30th March. More Unfunny Shite

In keeping with recent standards here's another load of shite. The kitchen is nearing the final stages and hopefully will be completed by the weekend giving me the freedom to get out birding for the remainder of the spring, however I managed my first Swallow and 30 Meadow Pipits over the house this evening whilst pasting some wallpaper.

During the weekend I was forced to set foot in a church thingy in order to attend my cousin's kids christening. Now I'm not the religious type and have always found christenings the most hypocritical of services and the reason why my daughter is not christened This service was no exception and one step up the religious twaddle scale. It wasn't the actual christening that I had a problem with, it was the 5 minute sermon about how to fill in the gift aid form when making a donation. Clearly this was in the forefront of the vicars mind and failure to do so would result in offenders burning in hell for all damnation, well at least I'll keep warm!

See I told you it was shite but in case you need some more look here

24th March. And The Winner is............

Following an exhaustive survey of the British Birding public, all 94 of them, the final result of the 'Crappest British Bird Poll'. The winner with a total of 21% of the vote is the infamous Cley Rock Sparrow. Now I feel I should point out that this is not my opinion but the opinion of the British public - the same British public that make an icon out of an illiterate reality TV 'star' so the finders shouldn't take it to heart too much, even if there are no other records in Northern Europe and the species has no history of vagrancy. Perhaps if the BBRC were to conduct similar polls then the British List might become somewhat shorter.

In second place , and the one that got my vote, was the curious Lady Amherst's Pheasant better known as Lee's nice little earner. Fortunately the BOU have now seen sense with this one and pulled it from the list leaving modern day birders with a gap on their list and Lee with a shed full of corn!

Next poll which is the stringiest county in the UK - I think we might have already covered that though!!

21st March. The hole truth

Not had much chance to get out lately due to a spot of kitchen demolishing/fitting but being the first day of spring it seemed only right to have a morning out. With the sun splitting the flags surely the whole area would be awash with early migrants. The patch of wasteground on the eastern edge of Pit-house West always comes up with my first spring Wheatear and in recent years a Woodlark. Unfortunately neither were present but a pair of Little Ringed Plovers gave me some enthusiasm to carry on. A welcome Long-eared Owl was an unexpected bonus but there was very little else of note.

A phone call informed me of a pair of Garganey at nearby RVCP so I paid an obligatory visit and took time to consume an earlier purchased Morrisons Meat and Potato Pie, though I'm not quite sure what meat exactly!!

Having been watching the Orgreave Opencast site for almost a year now I decided that the time had come to follow the lead of the local dog walkers and enter the site by means of trespass. I headed towards a large whole in the fence, that I noticed some weeks earlier, only to find that the bastards from UK Coal had repaired it - how very dare they! Given the trespassers will be prosecuted/shot/bummed notices I lost all enthusiasm and went back to the kitchen.

British Pie Week

Oops it appears that I have received some well earned stick for not mentioning British Pie Week. Well in a nutshell I forgot. I have no excuse as it was pointed out to me earlier in the week that as a mark of respect that we should have a pie a day. However as a mark of respect to my waistline I quaffed only one, a fine homemade chicken and mushroom. The rest of my Internet time was spent reading 'Britains Top Birders'views on the Siberian Thrush - when will we ever learn, probably never. To save anyone the boredom of trawling yet another pointless BF thread here are Lee's thoughts on the Thrush.

Unfortunately, due to laws of libel, I am not able to go into the 'ins and
outs' of this record on any publicly viewable email group and for me to explain
the reasoning behind my statement would involve such, particularly as the
record is so much in the public domain and the claimant is so readily

There is a long history surrounding this sighting and it involves Kent,
Norfolk, Siberian Meadow Bunting, released Silver-washed Fritillaries, rare moths
released from pupae, obtaining Red Squirrels for release, Egyptian Vulture,
Lesser Spotted Eagle, Masked Shrike and many other species of birds. For
legal reasons, I am not able to elaborate on this.

The bill on the Siberian Thrush appears far too large than normal and this
may be due to the fact that the feathers are all missing from around the base
of the bill. The bird has a particularly long hindclaw and has damage to the
primaries, distinctly cut in the same places on both wings. It has also
replaced completely at least one primary.

Unfortunately, no photographs have become available showing the bird before
it was placed in the cage so I can only study those which show it afterwards
and I am being told that all of the damage was caused in the cage. However,
many of the caged photographs were taken shortly after news was released of it
being in care (between 1300 and 1400 hours), when I was lead to believe it
was sitting quietly on the floor of the cage and not getting agitated and
flying back and forth into the sides of the cage, which happened much later (at
about 1450).

It has been a particularly bad winter for Siberian vagrants with no Hume's
Leaf or Dusky Warblers, no Black-throated Thrushes and very few Yellow-browed
Warblers. Sweden is the only country that did perhaps benefit from an influx,
with a Dusky Thrush in Belgium.

Siberian Thrush is surprisingly frequent in captivity and at present, I am
trying to trace all those that have been sold in recent weeks. Pegasus Birds
believe that there is a minimum of 40-100 birds in captivity in Britain (and
have been so for at least 10 years) and will be surprised if breeding is not
taking place - I am trying to get hold of more data on this.

Best wishes


It's getting increasingly difficult to tell which Lee Evans is the comedian.

5th March 2009. Zoothera Disappointment

For some reason unbeknown to only me I just couldn't get the urge to get excited about this top draw rarity. Maybe it was the late winter apathy or the cost of filling the car up with black gold, though I suspect it was the tainted nature of this record. I mean who wants to drive the 140 mile trip to North Norfolk to watch this Sibe' gem in a cage? Well some birders clearly wanted to see it in a cage as apparently over 150 birders made the trip - for them it was worthwhile as the bird was released early in order to enable the bird to stop knocking seven bells out of itself in the large cage. I can't help wonder what they would have done to their lists had it not been released - but hey who gives a shit. For me a Sibe' Thrush has no right to be in a back garden in Norfolk, they should only be found skulking at the bottom of a Northern Isles wall or clinging to the rocky edge of a geo anything else is just disappointing!

25 Years today saw the start of the miners strike. Whilst it would be easy to sit here and write about how harshly treated the miners were and how the Notts miners were scabs I won't. I was 14 years old and had just started birding my local patches all of which had one thing in common - coal! They were (still are) old spoil heaps, subsidence flashes or previously opencast areas that without the mining industry would never have existed. Whats more without the pits closing sites such as Pit-house West and the new Orgreave workings would not exist, nor would the superb Old Moor complex. Like it or not the legacy of the pit closures in South Yorkshire has been a wealth of great birding areas that clearly benefit wildlife much more than any coal mine ever would have. So perhaps as birders we should thank Mrs Thatcher, though for me it'll be a cold day in hell before I do!