Whilst walking round we began to discuss that old chestnut that is the Breadcake/Tea Cake arguement. Jo, being from West Yorkshire, is of the opinion that a Breadcake is infact a Tea Cake, except when it is purchased from a chip shop when it magically becomes a breadcake - how can this be?
The birth of the Drunk Birders.
Inspired by my latest house list addition I decided to check the total and was quite impressed to have amassed a total of 78 species, highlights being Kingfisher, Redstart, Whimbrel and Hobby. However with the addition of three cats, to the household, the list could grow rapidly albeit with dead specimens!! I might post the list when I can be bothered.
The only birding highlight of the week so far was booking the flights for the annual October Shetland trip. Anyone who is looking into this would do well to book the mainland leg through Flybe and not BA it's £100 cheaper and you fly on the same plane!! Total cost for Birmingham - Aberdeen - Sumburgh £157 - bargain.
Whilst preparing the squid around 4pm I received a call from Andy Deighton informing me that a large party of Whooper Swans were heading over Walesbar towards RVCP. After a headless chicken impression, whilst trying to find the spare Leicas, I managed to get on them just as they appeared to drop into the Park. Andy phoned me to say that they had dropped on to the Main Lake so I let the squid in the sink and headed back to RV. They were indeed on the Main Lake and showing very well a total of 41 birds. Also there 22 Sand Martins.
An early morning (7am!!) wander around Wooley Woods produced very little except lots of psycho Nuthatches chasing each other around.
The rest of the day was spent clearing the clutter out of the garage. A new moth, a Herald, was found hibernating on an old car mat before being transferred to the shed.
I decided to do a circuit of Pit-house West starting at the Walesbar end. Things started well with a nice male Stonechat in the Greencore field and a Curlew by the flashes. Another Curlew over 20 minutes later and an obscured owl, roosting in the Long-eared conifers, proved to be a Tawny Owl rather than the expected Long-eared. March is usually the peak time for finch flocks at PHW so a flock of 80 + Lesser Redpolls was not surprising. Being the technophile that I am I had recently uploaded the entire Roche birds of Europe onto my phone, useful if you ever want to tape lure a Gannet or something!! Anyway I stuck the Redpoll on repeat and marvelled at the halo of Redpoll's around my head one of which was a very nicey marked Mealy Redpoll. Once they had sussed that I wasn't one of their gang they buggered off over the hill. The gorse field at the western end of PHW still held a pair of Stonechat. Very little round the pools and reed bed except a Water Rail so I headed back to the flashes where a pair of Redshank had taken up residence. A walk back to the car via the Greencore field revealed that the Woodlark is still present having first been seen in September 2006, it was flushed from the edge of the gorse before disappearing into the sheep field below. All in all an excellent couple of hours filling me with renewed enthusiasm for the coming spring.
Plenty of good sites along here that might still hold Black Redstarts, though you're more likely to get a shag and a dose of something nasty.
So are the days of crisp winter birding a thing of the past? Do I need to discard the Damart's for a thong? Perhaps I should take up this new craze of Euro listing like the girlfriend less cheque book birders. Or should I just spend the entire winter drunk (like the Punks and certain Shetland birders) and stumble across 'rares' whilst birding/driving under the influence. Perhaps I should get some work done and keep my head down until the Spring.