25th May. Return to Hatfield

Having had such a smashing afternoon yesterday I decided to have another look at Hatfield, particularly as there was a drake Red-foot there. Unfortunately it had departed before we arrived though I decided that it would be nice to have a look at the returning Red-necked Grebe anyway and it was very nice indeed.

24th May. Norfolk like

An early start saw me wandering round Orgreave at 06:30 with low confidence of finding anything out of the ordinary. Two and a half hours later and just a Dunlin for my trouble I was thinking that a Sunday morning lie in would have been a better idea.

Elsewhere strange things indeed were occurring. West Yorkshire had turned into some kind of rare bird vacuum cleaner sucking all the rares out of Norfolk and depositing them at Swillington Ings, namely Collared Pratincole and a nice trio of Whiskered Terns. Tempting stuff but it appeared that the Pratincole had done one mid-morning leaving just the Terns. The addition of a Woodchat at Pugneys flicked my twitching switch and we made the short trip up the M1. The Shrike showed well as did the Terns but a muffled shout from the Swillington hide indicated that the Pratincole was heading towards us - hurrah a spot of luck for a change. We ended the day on Hatfield Moors failing to see the Buff-breasted Sandpiper but none the less very impressed with the quality scrapes - definitely a future wader mecca and only 30 mins from home.

22nd May. Knot so bad

With a change in the weather and wind direction it's no surprise that the last few days have been very poor. Forced myself out of the house this morning, despite the conditions being less than favourable and decided on a wander around the lagoons at Orgreave. This is technically trespassing but seeing as dozens of dog walkers have been doing it for months I thought why not!

No sooner had I sat down behind a convenient rock I noticed 3 medium sized waders drop to the shore and out of view, my immediate gut feeling was Knot which was surprisingly correct. Another patch tick and once they'd settled down I managed a couple of digiscoped shots before purchasing a brace of celebratory pies from Morrisons.

15th May. Clag

With a continuing easterly and accompanying *clag the prospects of some 'scarce' was promising. Taking advantage of the gift that is flexi time I decided on a thorough check of my three regular sites.
The clag had increased to scale 10 and my optimism had increased. However the hoped for wader fest' at Orgreave did not transpire unless you count 2 Dunlin and a handful of LRP's! Treeton was no better the hoped for terns just weren't there and I was prevented from getting to Blue Mans by a road closure. I don't usually bother with Catcliffe as it's well past its sell by date though I was plesantly surprised to have 4 Artic Terns steam through with no intention of stopping.

The evening visit was no better except with the addition of a thunderstorm.

*Clag - adj, heavy drizzly conditions often accompanied by easterly winds.

14th May. Dull

Following an extensive eye straining scan of Orgreave Lagoon the best I could come up with was two Common Sands and a new Gropper. Staying out longer than normal I wandered down to Treeton Dyke where I expected Terns various. Tern singular would have done but sadly the air and lines of buoys were devoid!
Blue Mans Bower would surely be holding a Temminck's, this turned out to be as likely as me having last nights winning lottery ticket in my back pocket - which as anyone who knows me will know I don't do the lottery (tax on the stupid and all that).

A evening visit to Orgreave did at least pay some dividend with at least 5 Dunlin and a Sanderling present.

Anyway the main point of this post (if indeed there is any point) was to draw your attention to this piece of lyrical mastery - enjoy.

13th May. Lunch Trip

With news of a trip of 6 Dotterel showing down to just a few feet at Stanage I was tempted to take an extended lunch - so along with my boss I did. No apologies for the amount of photos these birds are stunning and even the heavy rain couldn't take the shine off them.

11th May. Virtual Dip

Bugger! Following my 7 hour virtual drive to Aberdeen and 14 virtual hours on the Lerwick bound ferry the Cowpat has done a bunk. Fortunately I don't have to endure 2 virtual hours on the Good Shepherd (the virtual flight was booked solid) and a virtual night on Fair Isle. Oh well just the virtual ferry and the long virtual drive home!

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10th May. More bloody dog owners.

After a quick check of Orgreave where the highlight was two Dunlin we decided on a walk round RV. Starting at Pit-house West I was pleasantly surprised with a singing Sedge Warbler - my first here in several years. This species has significantly declined in the Rother Valley over the last few though there appears no shortage of suitable habitat.
Back to dog walkers. Just because you walk in front of your dogs while they have a shit does not mean you don't have to pick it up!!

RV was now typically over flowing with joggers, kamikaze cyclists and more dog walkers one of which spent the best part of 20 minutes screaming at her spaniel whilst it pursued a mallard and her ducklings. This all served to remind me just why I don't miss RV these days. Don't get me wrong the park will still get the birds, particularly whilst the two birding stalwarts keep plugging away, but the general public and especially the new regime (Oak Holdings) are a big turn off for me!

9th May. LiRPs

What is it about dog walkers? No matter how early you get up there's always one up and about before you. This morning was no exception when on arrival at Orgreave one had beaten me to it and was already walking his mongrel around the edge of the lagoons, oblivious to the Little Ringed Plovers alarm calling around him - TWAT!! I went through the pointless exercise of scanning the edges and saw surprisingly nothing. Why is it that dog walkers feel compelled to get as near to the edge as possible not matter what shit they have to walk through?

I gave up here and visited another site where a pair of LRP's were showing ridiculously close to a public footpath allowing for some up arse digiscoping.

8th May. Carbon Neutral Twitching.

The occurence of a Brown-headed Cowpat on Fair Isle has given me an idea for a new form of Twitching that given the current economic conditions, pandemic madness and our duty to protect the environment is sure to catch on. So ladies and gentlemen I give you Carbon Neutral Twitching.
Here's how it works.

Stage 1. The pager alerts you to a new British Tick, in this instance we'll use the Cowbird.

Stage 2. Funds.

Check that you have the appropriate funds. If yes go to stage 3

Stage 3. Travel arrangements

If the target is within immediate striking distance go to stage 4.

Now in this case you should now check the availability of flights. However I know allready that there are no flights going near Fair Isle this weekend as it's horribly windy. So it's the Sunday night ferry from Aberdeen and pre book a flight from Tingwall which I would have got my Shetland contact to arrange. If no travel is possible then it's a non starter otherwise go to stage 4.

Stage 4. Request leave.

This is the easy bit if like me your boss is very understanding - however the other half won't be quite as easy! However you should have no problem convincing her that your sanity depends on it and that you'll bring her something nice back like an itchy Fair Isle jumper.

With stages 1-4 complete you are now ready for your carbon neutral tick. It's simple really you can just stay at home and wait. On Monday the Cowbird appears on the pager, now providing it is there at the time your flight would have arrived you can tick it - after all you would have seen it anyway and if like me you've seen 100's of Cowbirds it doesn't really matter. Obviously if it isn't there on Monday you dip. So fingers crossed come Monday I can add it to the list from the comfort of my front room - after all at least one leading twitcher has been doing this for years.

This might all sound slightly insane but if nothing else proves that twitching is utterley futile and clearly a form of OCD. Will realisation of this change me? Probably not!

4th May. Futile Twitchering

Having the bonus of a Bank Holiday to recover from the previous two days I decided to put it to good use and twitch the Dungeness Crested Lark. Having turned down the offer of a lift, that would have meant me sleeping in the car, I decided to leave at 4am and pick up the 'Drunk Birder' en route -who was surprisingly sober. Arriving at Dunge' at 7.20am we were greeted with the news that it had been seen up to 6.30am when it flew off towards the Old Lighthouse. Having been present since Wednesday it had finally decided to up sticks and leave 50 minutes before my arrival and was not seen again during the day - bollocks. Roy and Andy (who had offered me the overnight stay in the back of the car) were successful which serves me right - probably. So after 500 miles all I came away with was sunburn and distant views of Northern France where there was no doubt thousands of Crested Larks + 1!

This was my first long distance twitch since the White-tailed Plover and, given the pain of dipping, may very well prove to be my last perhaps.

Crested Lark - not showing well

1st-3rd May. Wedding

No chance of twitching the Crested Lark, this weekend due to family commitments. However they're shitty brown and boring - that's the Lark not the family.

This was the weekend of my nearly brother-in-laws wedding. Friday night involved a bit of Shakespeare in Stratford - which was far better than I had anticipated though it took a while to work out that it was actually English they're were speaking! Saturday was the wedding with the reception at Warwick Castle a few photos below. The rest is a bit of a blur due to the copious amount of free alcohol.

Two pies please

Apparently not a pie