30th March. Dirty Gypo's

A pair of Egyptian Geese seen copulating at Pit-house West, the first breeding pair in the Sheffield area. Unfortunately this is their second go as they did have a brood of six young earlier in the month, which disappeared in unknown circumstances. Hopefully this time they will be more successful!

Oh Baby!!!


At RV an immature Whooper Swan was among the Mute Swans having first been seen yesterday morning.

29th March: Wheatear

There's some birds that really signify the start of Spring and for me it's the Wheatear. The first Wheatear of the year always, whether it be early or late March, gives me that rush of adrenalin that Spring has really arrived. Even though my first Sand Martins appeared a fortnight ago it is, for me, the Wheatear that is the harbinger of Spring . So one at Pit-house West this morning was just as welcome as any before it.

24th March. Monsal Dale

A change of scenery today. A walk through a very cold Monsal Dale, with Jo, for several hours produced very few birds except for 5 Mandarin, Dipper and at least 3 singing Marsh Tits.

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?

21st March. March many weathers.

Despite a nice bright start to the day it was bloody cold with a strong north-westerly wind which is presumably keeping the early migrants at bay. The east end of Pit-house West was very quiet though the long staying Woodlark obliged briefly. The flashes were deserted though if they stay in their current flooded state should attract the odd wader or too over the next few months.

If this was on Shetland it'd have Phalaropes spinning around on it.

According to the blog poll I should stop moaning and get out more, so I will!

20th March. A slice of humble pie

I was informed last night that Mr 'Sweary' Hague's Drunk Birders blog has made it into the Birdwatch Top of the Blogs list. I can only console myself with the fact that I was part of the inspiration during those dark early seperation days, when several of us were in an unfortunate state whilst watching a Pechora Pipit. Well done John though I notice you have them in your links you bloody creep!

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.

15th March: House Tick

After a very unsuccessful early morning walk around PHW, in thick fog, where the only reward was a party of 5 Redshank and a Snipe I went to Morrisons to by some fish! Whilst in there Bethany had to physically drag me away from the pie counter where I was eyeing up a particularly attractive meat and potato pie.
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.

10th March: Bob a job

Had a text from my good friend Mr Fray this morning. Apparently he now has a part time post working for the RSPB. Apparently Pete Ellis is glad to be passing on the Puffin suit to a younger man.

Rob's efforts to charm the birds on Shetland took on a bizarre and disturbing twist.

9th March: A near miss for Mrs T'

The champagne was on ice but sadly the old witch survived. So those of us old enough to remember what she did to the communities of South Yorkshire, during her eleven evil years in power, will have to put the party on hold.

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.

8th March: At last

After dropping Beth off at her mum's I was undecided whether to go back and do some ironing or take the advice of the above poll and get some birding done. Fortunately I chose the latter.
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.

7th March: Maffs Test

Whilst surveying (if you can call it that) the length of Sheffield's shiny new Inner Relief Road this morning I came across this rather disturbing calculation (presumably by one of the contractors) on the side of Sheffield's biggest retaining wall.

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.

4th March: It's still crap!

Despite going birding every day since Sunday it's still crap. Walked round the Main Lake at RVCP this afternoon and noted ducks various in insignificant numbers two Egyptian Geese present since 2006, Shelduck present since 2006 and a much reduced number of Wigeon. On the Reserve 20 Goosanders.

A good old fashioned twitch during February 89'. Yes it is 19 years since the Golden-winged Wobbler. Halcyon days.

3rd March: Pie Week

Thanks to Dave for reminding me that it is British Pie Week www.britishpieweek.co.uk.
Spent an hour walking round RVCP late afternoon. Very little, but a party of 17 Goldeneye getting the horn provide me with some amusement.

3rd March: Winter is crap

Is it me or has this winter been the worst in living memory? Not just for the rarer specimens but also just birding in general. Even the wintering ducks and thrushes haven't bothered to put in much of an appearance this winter. A three hour yomp around Pit-house west yesterday produced nothing but 6 Moorhens, 2 Coots and a mixed party of L-t Tits, Blue Tits and Goldcrests. The only highlight (if you can call it that) being a singing Willow Tit.

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.