The problem with modern society is nothing to do with the credit crunch or the price of oil it's the amount of handouts that we give to these freeloaders who see children as a way of earning a living. This has been going on for too long now so much so that we now have three generations of scum spanning less than forty years - they see nothing wrong with what they do and our society continues to support them. Sterilise the bastards now before it's too late. Now back to my Daily Mail!
So with mince pies in the pantry, made by Beth, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
A full two pages has been dedicated to the Steppe Grey Shrike, featuring the finders account, a shot of a group of birders crowded round it like a group of middle aged British 'tourists' at the opening of a Cambodian orphanage and an abhorrent posting of the editor of a rival magazine trespassing in a field and being removed by the local constabulary.
In a time when we have government agencies exterminating introduced species (albeit accidental introductions) due to the apparent threat to a species that is undergoing a terrific comeback. We find other publicly funded agencies throwing our money around on publicity stunts such as the Rutland Ospreys and now Natural England’s pathetic White-tailed Eagle scheme in East Anglia. Why introduce Ospreys, White-tailed Eagles, Common Cranes and Great Bustards? Because they’re bloody huge and even the most myopic individual couldn't fail to see them through an old bog roll. They are Zoo attractions that will pull in the green pound. What the general non-birding public want to see are big birds eating things. The conservation industry knows this and sees the pound signs. There are of course some exceptions, for example several utilities companies have supported ‘proper’ conservation schemes in the north of England such as Hen Harrier protection. Sadly the little brown jobs don’t pull in the money – they’re just not impressive enough.
Natural England should mean just that putting in resources to help support our dwindling fauna and flora, not pissing about with species that never naturally occurred in these areas masked up as conservation projects!
The DEFRA taskforce arrived on mass at 07:30, 6 4X4's and 6 motor boats. Dawn broke and the result of our efforts were revealed a raft of Pochard with 20+ Ruddy Ducks among them. The slaughter commenced!! By 8:40 the bulk of the Ruddies had been cleaned up with around 10 birds remaining. Having had to leave for parental duties at 7:20 I returned at 8:40, lost the plot a bit, stuck on my HI-Viz and jumped the wire fence and sat myself stubbornly at the waters edge taking photos of the ensuing massacre. At first it seemed to work the guns went quiet. After a short break the boats started to head towards me and it soon became clear that they intended to drive the birds away from me. This seemed to piss them off a bit but after an hour they had rounded the last one and started to pack up.
One of the few remaining in the foreground whilst another is scooped up
I think I was starting to get to piss them off a bit
Another one bites the dust
With just a couple left the hunters took to rounding then up and forcing them towards the hidden guns.
R.I.P Skills and Bills
First stop Orgreave Flash was just about devoid of life and noticeably the water levels had increased significantly and already in it's early life it's starting to look a bit sterile!
A surprise and a patch tick at Blue Man's Bower was a Green Sandpiper. Also there 10 Wigeon, 12 Teal, 2 Redshank and 2 Snipe.
I was then torn between staying in the Rother Valley or heading west, I foolishly decided on the latter drawn by a flock of Waxwings at Crosspool. On arriving at least 20 Waxwings were heading over the houses and appeared to carry on going. I couldn't be arsed hanging around as given the poor light and wind I was never going to get any decent photos even if they did come back into the trees. A Great Grey Shrike in the Leash Fen area had been present for at least a fortnight with the chance of a few Short-eared Owls and perhaps a Hen Harrier or two. Unfortunately none of the aforementioned were around though a couple of showy Stonechats provided minor consolation.
With a long (cold) weekend coming up I will hopefully have some birding to report on. Failing that there's bound to be some twat out there worth writing about. Who knows it might even be me!!
Glancing through the pages of the local groups website I couldn't help but notice that a number of interesting records are appearing from certain regular individuals. Now I'm no cynic but the word stringy keeps springing to mind. One record involves 3 Water Pipits at one site. Now I am familiar with this site and must say that a record of a Water Pipit at this site would not be remarkable - but three birds! Not impossible but what strikes me is the fact that the records states 9 Pied Wagtails and 3 Water Pipits - no mention of any Meadow Pipits which I suspect is what these birds really were. That's the trouble with birding websites that publish sightings along with the observers name (which I have been guilty of hosting in the past) - everyone wants to see their name in lights, though some a little more than others. However they do need a little policing based around local knowledge of local birders. I did say I wasn't a cynic and I maintain that - more of a realist!
With no daylight prior and after work it was pleasing to get a female Peregrine, carrying a feathered rat, from the office window this morning.
Let's just look at the cute puppy and pretend none of this ever happened
Not wanting to push my luck too much I decided to do the seals first (not in the biblical sense of course). As is the norm there was lots of "ooh"ing and "aah"ing at the baby seals. There were a few birds namely 4 Snow Buntings and a House Martin, flying around with a large flock of Starlings and a couple of skeins of Pink-feet.
First birding stop was the female Desert Wheatear at nearby Saltfleet Haven. Not the most obliging Desert Wheatear that I've ever seen but it did eventually come close enough for some record shots.
Now for a rant with some minor swearing
It's a long while since there's been a twitchable Steppe Grey Shrike in Britain, so a very obliging individual near Grainthorpe would have been tempting even without the seals. It sounded flawless, walk around a mile and half and the bird would be showing very well. There was even the 'view from a sensible distance' message on the pager. So after a slog across the floodbank we arrived where the bird had been showing well. Unfortunately my arrival coincided with the outing of the mentally challenged f**kwits annual birding trip. To me 'keep at a sensible distance' means don't chase the little bastard around all afternoon pissing off everyone else present. Which is why I only got this record shot.
Anyone who has decent frame filling images was definitely not keeping at a sensible distance. Apart from the flushing behaviour several birders thought nothing wrong with standing on the farmers kale crop, despite the path being wide enough to get a bus down. Bad behaviour at a bird really pisses me off it is an all too common occurrence these days, with larger than ever numbers of birders behaving like selfish morons. After a while I got pissed off with the flushing tactics but more so the blatant ignorant twats trampling on the crops. A suggestion (ok it was a little patronising) to a group crop tramplers that it might not be the best of ideas to walk all over the crops was met with a torrent of abuse particularly from a talentless fat bastard in a Manure FC hat. Well fatty I got a photo of you and your mates for my name and shame gallery below.
Image removed. Copies available on request!
I was probably a little unfair in stating that all frame filling images were a result of getting too close. This bird does come close, but during my visit it was pushed right down the lane and would I'm sure have come close if people had stopped charging at it.
Until last night I had managed to avoid Autumn Watch, but last night I stumbled across it quite by accident. The fat pompous turd started going on about the recent birding highlights of the autumn starting with an 'amusing' story about how birdwatchers were watching a 'rare' American Nighthawk when suddenly, in front of their eyes, a car ran over it! Hilarious tabloid humour Bill, though totally untrue. The Nighthawk was picked up dead at the side of the road having probably been run over and in fact was never actually seen alive by any birders. The next story was about how 5000 'twitchers' had dashed to West Cornwall for the Alder Flycatcher - 5000 my arse!! Bill finished off by twitching a pile of plastic shit at Radipole after embarrassing a group of birders at Portland.
Bill. Do us all a favour and phone up some old Seventies sitcom star claiming to have shagged their granny or something and piss off from our screens all together.
The clip below proves what a nob he's turned in to. Kate must have had one hell of an overwhelming urge to push him in.
Arriving back home with warm baps ensured that I was still in the good books only for a Red-throated Diver to come on the pager at RVCP (I appear, probably deservedly, to be out of the loop these days). A cracking summer plumaged bird showing very well on the Northern Lake a new bird for me at RV and in the Sheffield area.
Other than a calling Warter Rail there was very little else at PHW I decided to pay one of my now less than weekly visits to RV where a couple of Dunlin and two Pintail were on the Reserve. Fortunately all was not lost as I had earlier purchased a couple of steak and ale pies from Morrisons which I scoffed - hmm pies.
Today there was a report of a possible Northern Flicker (Hampshire) seen flying up off a grass verge in to some woods- BOLLOCKS! Green Woodpecker feeding on a grass verge flying off in to woods more like.
As you will have now gathered no birding was done today, though I did have two probable Fieldfares over the house at 10:00hrs GMT. They of course weren't probables but by claiming them as probables I open up a whole can of worms (or can of moths as a colleague of mine once said) what if these probable Fieldfares weren't Fieldfares but something far rarer like er Ring Ouzels they have a similar call to Fieldfares well similar if your a bit deaf. Come to think of it I was talking to the next door neighbour at the time so I probaly didn't here them properly that's it then, today I saw two probable Ring Ouzels over the house at 10:00hrs GMT. See it's that easy 2 probables go out on the pager (though I wouldn't of course put out two Fieldfares) and everyone thinks I'm great*
The whole of the day was infact spent stripping wallpaper and as a result my right arm feels like it did when I was 15, but without the accompanying crusty sock**
* Actually anyone would think I was a total wanker claiming a probable Ring Ouzel.
** See scene from American Pie
So that was it another Shetland trip over, but I'll be back next October.
We were a bit unfamiliar with the Levenwick area but headed for a spot where Andy had previously found a Firecrest. The initial walk around this garden produced just a couple of Goldcrests, but on the way back I noticed a small bird flit out and back in. This proved to be a spanking male Red Breasted Flycatcher my first such male. Also at Levenwick was a Whinchat.
It occured to us that new birds were in so we decided on heading back to the Sumburgh area. A call from Rob informed us that he and Helen had just had a Coal Tit near the Christian Youth Centre - hallelujah. Again another Shetland mega! We tried to show enthusiasm for it but unfortunately it, like its cousin, had buggered off probably towards Scatness/Toab. With this in mind we headed for the gardens of Toab. The lure of the Toab shop proved too much, I just had to check the pie situation. Amazingly they had been a massive fall of 'rare' and 'scarce' Chicken in White Sauce, Egg and Bacon and my all time favourite Cheese, Bean and Tattie. Despite not being the slightest bit hungry I bought the latter and consumed it immediately (10 points).
The pie distracted me somewhat from checking the gardens and we suggested rechecking the lighthouse and farm areas, which we did and saw nothing.
The day finished with the Long-eared Owl hunting the grassy edges of the POV.
Unlike the pie the Richard's Pipit did not show at all so we buggered off to the Lighthouse and saw 2 Goldcrests which was crap to say the least.
The rest of the afternoon was spent at Hoswick and Fladerbister with the Pied Fly and Lesser W' at the former. A stop off at the Sandwick Bakery produced just 'meat pies' confirming my thoughts in that there is some kind of pie famine occurring.
Incidentally our finding rivals of the previous years have just returned from a foreign trip HERE Can't help but feel sorry for the boys, surrounded by 'Giga Rare' and just a few 'scarce' to show for their efforts.
Yep that's it 8 hours in North and Northwest Mainland for a Pied Fly.
The day got off to a good start with a quick stop at the Lerwick Tesco where amazingly pies were being sold! A pack of Macaroni Cheese and a pack of Chicken Curry Pies were purchased.
Site 1 Lower Voe where we managed a mere 6 Goldcrests, 1 Blackcap and some Robins.
Site 2 err
Site 3 err oh F*** it it was crap we saw nothing and to make it worse there seemed to be birds everywhere else, including sites that we decided to leave out of the itinerey*.
The highlight was a scone and a cup of tea at the cafe at Esha Ness - though even here we managed to dip on the legendary 'Fine Breasts of Esha Ness' that Rob had fascinated us with earlier in the year.
In the end we had to go and look at someone elses bloody Ring-necked Duck though we did also have a Slavonian Grebe there.
The aforementioned pies weren't too bad, though the curried chicken was better than the macaroni 7 and 6 points respectively.
*.I must point out that Andy's Itinerey was flawless apart from the lack of birds
A party of Pale-bellied Brent Geese were on the POV as well as the usual small selection of waders were the only birds seen all day.
Tomorrow we have a plan and a strict itinerary, we're hitting the north and west of the Mainland - watch this space!!
The current economic crisis coupled with an unprecedented fall of "Giga Rares" has lead to a number of high profile 'Twitchers' facing fuel poverty. This has resulted in at least one of them taking up demeaning jobs to fund their addiction.
Anyhow. The day started off well when I found a nice 1st winter Great Grey Shrike in the Sumburgh Hotel Garden, which typically showed well knowing that I had left my camera in the car. The lighthouse was poor with just a couple of Goldcrest and a Reed Bunting. The Toab area produced a Yellow-browed Warbler and best of all an obvious fall of Lasagne Pies in the Toab shop. These were very soon reduced to just two with none present at dusk.
Early afternoon seems the best time to visit the lighthouse as migrants often drop in before dark. Andy M commented that this was the first year that he hadn't seen Red-breasted Flycatcher there. Sure enough as we walked around the corner two birders had found one!
On hearing of the impending departure of our friends we were told to help ourselves to the remainder of their provisions. We didn't need telling twice and quickly cleared the fridge, we did however decide against the collection of magazines featuring elderly ladies in compromising positions - whatever floats your boat!
Following breakfast we headed for the birderless Sumburgh area. Rumours of South Mainland being awash with Birders this October appear to have been unfounded and we quite literally have the whole southern end to ourselves. The fields around Sumburgh Farm were alive with Redwings and news of a White's Thrush on Fair Isle filled us with enthusiasm. Another Yellow-browed was seen briefly in the Hotel garden and a Stonechat was by the quarry along with a couple of Chiffs. We got in the car and headed up to the lighthouse. A bunting dropped in the road and caused all three of us to call Little Bunting simultaneously. It immediately flicked over the wall and disappeared, fortunately returning to the same spot shortly afterwards. This helped soften the pain of the constant barrage of American Landbirds appearing on the pager and reminded me of why I come to Shetland. Geosetter being sheltered seemed a good idea but in reality there were less birds than yesterday. Channerwick produced several Blackcaps and at least two Yellow-broweds. A call from the Nordagerdi boys informed us that they had found a Sibe Stonechat suspiciously in the area where Andy and I had earlier had a Stonechat. Calling at Mainlands on the way back produced an excellent 9 point award winning Chicken and White Sauce proving my theory that scarce pies = scarce birds and so on.
From the chart below we can see the affect that pie has on the occurrence of scarce therefore
The Nordagerdi crew were having a similar day but managed to keep their spirits high by getting over excited about Peregrines etc. Returning to the Toab area I decided to pay a second visit to the shop in the hope that a pie delivery might cheer me up. Unfortunately they had only the ‘Meat’ variety that I tasted on my arrival so I complained to the management about the lack of suitable pastry provisions, bought a bag of crisps and left!
After a short tea break we set of towards Exnaboe and saw nowt. The remainder of the day was spent around the Sumburgh area where the highlight was a Hedgehog! Though the Nordagerdi lot found a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Greenland Redpoll. After spending eight hours in the field we gave up and returned to Sunny Dell for another curry thoroughly knackered and pissed off.
"Hello Birdnet, Hedgehog showing well at Sumburgh mate"
It would also appear that he has banished all birds from these lands and landed us with a plague of wind and rain to prevent us birding upon the Sabbath. Well it appears to be working as I'm sat here writing this rubbish. However I did have a walk around Toab and saw a few Skylarks and a fly over Great Northern Diver.
A slight improvement during the afternoon with a Red-throated Pipit reported in the Valley of Plenty. Unfortunately it's at times like this when you discover the true amount of Birders visiting Shetland. Being the only new good bird of the day this attracted a sizeable crowd with over 50 birders arriving, many of whom were happy to tick off a Meadow Pipit! We soon tired of the crowd and left to purchase provisions.
A Sabine's Gull was reported heading towards The Pool of Virkie, half way through cooking a curry, but unfortunately it couldn't be relocated. We decided to return to the Pipit and managed excellent views with just a crowd of 7.
Arriving at Rob's I decided to take Sparky for a walk and encourage him to walk along the shore in the vain hope that he might flush some sheltering vagrant, which of course he didn't.
Returning somewhat windswept and cold I decided to take the car and check the Golden Plovers around Fleck. There were lots of Goldies but not much else so I decided to check the pie situation at nearby Mainlands. Once again pie was in short supply and the only types on off were a Steak Brodie (which looks like a pasty) and a slice of Grosvenor Pie (which looks like Pork Pie with an egg in it). I opted for the latter an improvement on the earlier pies but only a 6 as it made me gip a bit.
Bad news of the day was the defection of our regular cook to the Drunkbirders, who have no doubt lured him with pornographic literature and a bunk up with young Dave! As a result we had to make do with a Fray Fry Up washed down with lager.
Tomorrow might be a bit better.
I'm no Michael Fish but that looks nasty.
But things returned to normal later.
At last some recognition for my photographic prowess.
After the excitement of yesterday it was always going to be difficult for today to live up to it. So it was no surprise that today was a bit of a damp squib. With a stubborn blanket of fog over much of Sheffield I decided to head for Blacktoft with the thinking that I would at least be half way to most sites on the Yorks/Lincs coast. Blacktoft was surprisingly devoid of spotters but also pretty empty on the bird front. However I did have a Bittern and several Bearded Tits. A mass clear out on the east coast was evident and no new birds were being found so the chance of a few juicy morsels was unlikely so I went home for a nap!
On the way to Blacktoft I called at the service area just off the M62 where I had a hot tip of hot pies. This tip off prooved right as hot pies were indeed on offer, albeit a whopping £1.55. I went for a Chicken and Mushroom. A tasty specimen with a light shortcrust pastry. I would have awarded it 10 points, instead of 8, however whilst trying to eat and drive it broke in two and the volcanic juices leaked out whilst it was on my lap and found their way into my groin!!
Prints available on request!!
Mean while on Shetland the shit was well and truly hitting the fan. A call to Rob revealed his whereabouts as "stuck on Fair Isle" - there's worse places. However A Sykes Warbler at Sumburgh Farm was quite frustrating for the poor lad - so much so that he couldn't be arsed to have a look at what would have been his 3rd Siberian Thrush (Git) but consoled himself in finding another Arctic Warbler.
Back at work for 1:30 meant I could keep on the right side of my very understanding manager. Though the same cannot be said for my ex who questioned the logic of taking Beth to see a Brown Shrike (she was off school with a nasty cough), for fu**s sake it's a Brown Shrike what more need I say?? For the record Beth ticked Red-backed Shrike after Brown - way to go!! Hopefully more of the same tomorrow as I'm off all day.
Alkborough Flatts is only a mile, as the crow flies, from Blacktoft, but unfortunately 22 miles by road!! Unfortunately the phalarope had vanished and the heat haze made it very difficult to see anything. After 45 minutes of eye straining I'd had enough and decided to try for the Pecs. Hatfield Moors is a vast wasteland of post peat extraction land and like a giant maze. In short I got hopelessly lost and pissed off with the sun so we went home.
Charming greeting as you enter North Lincs
This morning was spent ringing at Ramsley After setting 5 nets up we were put to work with a constant supply of Lesser Redpoll. In the end we had rung around 180 though interestingly none were re-traps suggesting that there is a hell of a lot of Redpolls going through there, over 300 had been rung this week prior to today. By 11am we were knackered and fortunately the nets were empty so we packed up.
I was awoken from my much needed afternoon nap with a call from Andy D informing me of a Honey Buzzard over Treeton. This prompted me out in to the garden where almost immediately the dark sillouette of a Buzzard was picked up over Aston Church. Unfortunately this bird was a Common Buzzard but encouraged me to spend a bit more time out there staring at the sky, even if I was pushing the lawn mower at the time!!
Almost as good as these shots
Orgreave held one migrant a Common Sand and 10 Teal. Whiston/Treeton Meadows was marginally better with a juv Whitethroat and several Chiffies, though a flock of around 30 Yellowhammers reminded me of ye old days.
Highlight of the morning was a visit to Morrisons to purchase two exquisite steak pies. These really were 10 pointers and enhanced by the fact that they were eaten whilst birding Orgreave from the footbridge.
Other sites were equally crap with two Snipe at Pit-house West being the only birds of note!
End of sermon.
Three weeks to Shetland
Can't be arsed with all this predicting 'rares' nonsense, however I predict a large fall of pies in the Sandwick area around 10am on the 6th. Among the usual 'common' will be the odd 'scarce'( lasagne pie) and possibly the odd 'rare' (macaroni cheese pie) I doubt this year will see the appearance of any 'giga rares' (mushroom and tofu) but one never knows.
Talking of predictions
Me thinks that the Punks are hiding something.
The guys in the Northwest appear to have found a way around the 'credit crunch' simply stick out news of a couple of 'rares' and an 'ultra rare' to keep the phone lines bustling. Don't worry that they'll all turn out to be utter bollocks and that the Northwest will get a reputation for being ultra stringy the money will keep rolling in.
Recent Strings from the NW:
Cowbird = Blackbird
Whiskered Tern = Arctic Tern
Sharp-tailed Sand' = Ruff
Steak and Kidney = Mince and Onion
Awesome White Dog Shit found in the Canaries HERE
A late morning visit to the patch armed with the Hubble Telescope proved worthwhile with, 8 Cormorants, 9 Grey Herons, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and best of all a Sanderling.