28th September. Seaside Waders

Spent the afternoon on Filey Brigg. Whilst Jo and Beth spent their time rockpooling I spent mine crawling around on my belly stalking the photogenic waders.

29th September. The kiss of death.

Seems my email to the finder of the Sandhill Crane has had a Jonah effect. I only enquired about the transport possibilities from Kirkwall and it seems to have taken offence. Meanwhile whilst it continues its journey, south, southeast,southwest etc, I can only hope that it settles down for a good few hours within striking range before my trip north.

I won't mention the current magic seaweedforecast for Shetland, in case I put the kiss of death on that as well.

25th September. Prozac Time

For the land locked birder this autumn (so far) has been hard with little or no reward. However over the last few months the number of quality rares has been pretty outstanding. The only downside being that few of them have stayed for any length of time or have been on far flung islands. The only 'stayers' springing to mind are the Crested Lark at Dunge' - which I missed by forty minutes and the current mega the Sandhill Crane which is frustratingly just too close to my Shetland trip to justify such a long haul. Added to this the gripping photos of 'that Puffin', missing the Royal Tern and one of those bastard Bee-eaters (that I can't even bring myself to name) there's no wonder that things are starting to get to me it has been almost one year since my last lifer - the Flamborough Brown Shrike.

I know I'm not alone, even those in the tradtional hotspots are feeling the pain and it is with this in mind I have developed a tasty snack to liven up even the darkest of days.

20th September. At last a Pifer

A week of Easterlies along the east coast made for a tempting trip. Unfortunately a very late night on Saturday and the winds reverting to westerley meant situation normal. Determined to get out somewhere and at least salvage something we decided on Potteric then failing anything on the coast visit the Dearne Valley.

An hour and a half sat in the Piper Marsh hide failed to reveal any Bitterns and had it not been for a juv Little Stint on Huxter Well Marsh the trip would have been a washout. With the east coast offering the merest scattering of 'scarce' we decided on the Dearne Valley as it was nearer and had the added attraction of an as yet sampled pie purveyor.

I'd had a tip off from a colleague that the pies here were a bit special and he was not wrong! I quickly identified a brace of fine looking Rabbit pies skulking in the corner of the fridge a new specimen for me, a pifer even. Despite Jo's reservation about cold rabbit pie we wandered along the Wombwell Ings flood bank gorging ourselves on a rich gelatinous game filling covered in delicate short crust pastry. Not even the discovery of rare white dog shit could distract us from these premier pies and a full ten points were awarded.Rabbit Pies with diagnostic rabbit features

A true 'Rare'

Pies consumed we waddled up to the hide to discover that the Pec' Sand was hiding behind a group of very stubborn pikey horses. A further walk to view the east of the Ings produced it but it was distant and shrouded in haze prompting Jo top declare how crap it was and that the Kestrel on the wires was far nicer.

16th September. Sick as a Sea Parrot

That's it we can all pack in now the Autumn is over. As if the Lancastrian Wobbler on St Miles From Anywhere Island wasn't enough then today's event in Kent will have been enough for any self respecting (and lets face it twitchers have to be self respecting) twitcher to throw himself in the Thames and hope that a Giant Petrel might be attracted to his our her rotting corpse thus not making their existence on this globally warmed planet finally worthwhile. As for those lucky bastards that nailed this beauty I salute you, particularly the hardpatchworking stalwart who found it.

If only I was

13th September. Waiting

Spent most of the day in waiting for various people to either pick up or drop off kids. The only birding in between drop offs was a pointless visit to Orgreave - pointless as I was looking straight into the sun.

Decided on an early evening visit to Edderthorpe where eventually the Spotted Crake showed very nicely.

11th September. All mixed up.

With yet another Friday off (I haven't done a five day week for almost two months now) I decided on a cunning plan. I'd figured that seeing as the majority of birds reported from Hatfield were being at the weekend I would get on and have the whole area to myself. I was wrong. By the time I got there some bloke was already walking back and another was halfway round. Undeterred I carried on. Things looked good straight away when a Grey Plover flew over calling. it had been that long since I'd last seen a Grey Plover that I'd actually forgotten that they existed. The distance call of Pink-footed Geese seemed surreal, it was after all technically still summer. But sure enough they were Pinkies, 44 of them in fact. They headed at first east before circling round and thinking about landing, no doubt mistaking the former peat workings for napalmed North Norfolk arable land. This was certainly the first time I'd watched migrating Pink-feet whilst just wearing a T-shirt and watching dragonflies - bizarre.

There also appears to be at least two Cormorants among them!

The rest of the morning was spent watching two Marsh Harriers a Hobby and looking for waders and most of the latter spent looking at an interesting Calidris that was obviously smaller and shorter straighter billed than the Dunlins present. At a distance it looked good and I was seriously thinking White-rumped but as I got closer and closer (down to a few metres) it became clear that it was just a small short-billed Dunlin. However during those few long minutes several things became clear: I need to gen up, My photography skills are even worse when the adrenalin is flowing and that it's not a good idea to wander out into the middle of a peat bog for a Dunin. Feeling somewhat frustrated with myself (If I'd had the ability I'd have kicked my arse all the way back to the car) I went home.

At a distance it looked interesting

Not quite as interesting now!

8th September. Worstest Ever

Over the last few days at Orgreave I've seen very little, some Common Terns, Common Sandpiper, Wheatear and some more of those crap gulls.

So far this autumn has all the makings of a real duff one and apparently this has been the worstest one so far in 25 years. Worstest isn't a word I know, but it is far more descriptive than worse and more polite than wank. However with a chance of something eastish (also not a proper word) at the end of the week we can but hope for a few drift migrants at least on the coast. Meanwhile up north Rob has become that frustrated that he is counting street furniture. In the east the Punks are in disarray and seem to be bogged down with real life. The Leicester Llama is sulking in his chair and plotting a 9/11 style hijack of Shetland bound Flybe planes and no doubt the lads at Spurn will have by now have drained the cellar of the Crown and Anchor and will be too pissed to find owt when it does turn eastish. Meanwhile I continue to write this shit and tick off the days leading to Shetland - where I too can count the street furniture and grip off Rob with flight views of grit bins etc during the, no doubt, violent NW gales.

The definitive guide

2nd September.

Another two Yellow-legged Gulls on Orgreave this morning which were that boring they didn't even warrant a heading also the regular five eclipse Tufted Ducks which hopefully were not the five Common Scoters reported mid-morning?

1st September. Shelducks

It's a sign of the times when I write about the excitement of finding 13 Shelducks, but frankly after a month of nothing other than grotty Larus anything would have done.

Certainly the biggest flock and definetely the crappest photo of Shelducks that I've seen locally

30th August. Blacktoft, Hatfield and a Dogger.

There's only so many Yellow-legged Gulls that anyone person can stand and for me one is far too many. Order of the day was a change of scenery and given that it was bank holiday it had to be somewhere that would be twat free! So on reflection Blacktoft wasn't a good choice. However it wasn't that busy probably because it was virtually bereft of avian life forms. This was the first time in my memory that I've not even managed to see a single Dunlin here!

I know Blacktoft is a 'reedbed reserve but is a little bit of decent mud too much to ask for during August? We did see some very nice Bearded Tits though and pinched some bog roll from the toilets and rebelliously refused to attach that RSPB tag to my binoculars - so there.

Hatfield on the other hand did have waders, okay they were just Dunlin and Ringed Plovers but you got the feeling that any minute now you would stumble across a Baird's or a White-rump though more likely a dead tree. Several Hobbies and a Marsh Harrier brightened up the dull afternoon but the Red-necked Grebe was either hiding or gone. Whilst having a sit down and having a final scan of the Ten Acre Lake we were approached by a rather shifty looking character who asked us if we'd seen anything interesting. When he suggested that he might bring his bird next time alarm bells started to ring. I gingerly enquired as to what kind of bird he had as horrible images of some twenty stone beast awaiting a good time in his car flashed through my sick and twisted mind. Fortunately he told me it was a Harris Hawk but on returning to our car and seeing his learing grin I had my doubts.