27th February. What Would Charles Say

Rather than go birding this morning I decided to do the big food shop! After purchasing enough provisions to survive a nuclear holocaust I settled for a mega breakfast. Whilst consuming the equivalent of a small pig in pork products I noticed a flock of around 60 Waxwings circling the car park - amazing what you can get in Asda these days.

After knackering my back prior to the shopping trip I settled down for a day in front of the computer/TV, however I was distracted by the antics in the back garden. I was reminded of the 200th anniversary of Darwin whilst making the attached video and amused my self by wondering what Chas would have made of all this!!


video

25th February. A New Pie

Photos of a previously unrecorded Shetland pie were sent to me yesterday by Rob Fray (yes he hasn't died just gone in to hiding) This specimen, a Steak and Gravy Pie was awarded a medium score of 7 but Rob commented that it will certainly warrant further investigation.



Note the prescence of both crust and base

24th February. Save Our Pies

The humble pie is in danger of extinction after a vicious attack by the Food Standards Agency. Apparently eating pastry can lead to death.

As a precaution they are promoting an healthier option i.e. Eat only pies with a crust or a base. Now correct me if I'm wrong but the only legitimate pie without a base is a Meat and Potato. By removing the base the pie becomes impossible to eat whilst carrying out usual simple tasks such as driving, observing football, birding or watching porn,necessitating the use of two hands rather than one (one to hold the pie the other a fork). Crust less pies are just wrong and clearly fall under the flan/tart family of savouries.

It would appear that this is a ploy by the Government to rid the country of pies in order to protect the endangered pasty (no where in the advert does it mention not eating pasties).

Already Government inspectors are planning a cull in the southwest in order to protect the Cornish Pasty and prevent hybrids forming. The Pasty appears to be mostly safe in its traditional habitats and as yet pies have not shown any interest in moving from their traditional habitat in the North of England and Scotland, however plans to reduce their numbers in these areas are afoot and it is only a matter of time before culling is common place. You have been warned.

20th February. The Top Ten

A poll is currently under way at BIRDGUIDES asking for us to vote the top ten British rarities of the last 50 years. The list has some glaring omissions on it such as Great Knot, Tree Swallow and Yellow Throated Vireo etc etc. Whilst I'm sure that there must be some validity in this survey I cannot feel that some birds really don't deserve a place on there for example birds such as Pied-billed Grebe and that f'ing disfigured Curlew in the Northeast.

A thought has occurred to me. What about the other end of the scale the crappiest birds on the British List? I've created a list of 15 rare or non-native species below which in my opinion are shit. To qualify as shit they must be either Crap looking,spurious, plastic or not on my list (which is why that bloody Bee-eater is there). This list is not final and I am open to further suggestions.

BLACK DUCK POSSIBLY THE SECOND MOST BORING RARITY ON THE BRITISH LIST
DOUBLE CRESTED CORMORANT WITHOUT A DOUBT THE WORST LOOKING RARITY ON THE
BRITISH LIST AT THE WORST LOOKING LOCATION
COLLARED DOVE WELL THEY'RE JUST SHIT
BLACK SCOTER MUTANT
GOLDEN PHEASANT PLASTIC FANTASTIC
LADY AMHERST'S PHEASANT TICK EM WHEREVER YOU WANT THEY'RE ALL CRAP
RING-NECKED PARAKEET THE FLYING TREE RAT OF THE SOUTH
AMERICAN HERRING GULL WHO REALLY CARES
BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATER I HATE THESE BASTARDS
GREY CATBIRD MASS HALLUCINATION ON A NORTH WALES HILLSIDE
FAN-TAILED WARBLER SEE COLLARED DOVE
IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF TOO MANY OCCURRENCES FOR MY LIKING
ROCK SPARROW YEH RIGHT
SCOTTISH CROSSBILL HANDS UP THOSE OF US WHO CAN HONESTLY SAY THEY'VE SEEN ONE
BAY-BREASTED WARBLER THE NEW AGE EQUIVALENT OF THE HASTING RARITIES

At the request of others

Pallid Swift Dull as dish water
Semi-palmated Plover A Ringed Plover for the over educated.

15t February. Sexist Nonsense

Despite being colder than the Ice Age the cold weather doesn't appear to have made any difference to the winter bird populations and 'rares' are well er rare. Despite everybody being on the dole there's no one using their new found free time to go birding. Though in these dark times there is a glimmer of hope emanating from the TV soaps. During an educational viewing of Hollyoaks mid-week I came across (stop it!!) a rather interesting story line. The story involved a young nubile Lap Dancer and her boyfriend Dom twitching a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Now this wasn't the usual case of bloke dragging bird off birding, this was the young filly taking her bloke birding. The purpose of this story line I have no idea but the affect could be amazing. The average Hollyoaks viewer is female and will ow no doubt be inspired to take up the noble art of birding. Hurrah by May Spurn will be awash with scantily glad bikini toting tottie - probably. Now if that doesn't inspire all of you male birders out there to get out into the field then nothing will.


Footnote.

There is also a large proportion of male 30+ viewers so don't be surprised if there's equally an upsurge in middle-aged men looking for said tottie birders!!

7th February. Proper Winter

A cracking winters day today i.e. clear blue skies contrasting with a snow covered landscape. We decided on a walk to Pit-house West and RVCP which seemed a good idea for a spot of photography. A Woodcock flushed from the path as we entered PHW was a good start but once again there were no Long-eared Owls in the once regular roost. Meadowgate Lake was mostly frozen as were the Fishing Pond and Main Lake giving the chance to get close to some of the birds. Get close yes, take decent photos no.



5th February. Black on White

Despite me being able to get in to work and do several site visits around one of the highest parts of Sheffield the soft teachers at Beth's school couldn't make it. Consequently I had to spend the rest of the day at home working, building snowmen, sledging and photographing any birds that dare run the 3 cat gaunlet. Fortunately the cats stayed in so I got a chance to at least photograph some Blackbirds - not easy dark birds against snow.





1st February. White Rabbits

Blimey managed 3 consecutive days with some birding. A brisk walk round the Main Lake at RV.
produced nothing of note except 22 Great Crested Grebes and the female Pintail on the Reserve.

Pterodactyl

31st January. Pie Maker

For the last few months Beth has been attending a gifted and talented school - no I'm not bragging as in Rotherham the ability to write your own name and tie your shoelaces is classed as gifted!! Anyhow to cut a boring story short she's doing cookery and today she made her first pie - hurrah, an egg and bacon pie - bleugh!! My history of egg and bacon pie is that we used to have it at school - I would eat it and it would make me puke every time! This time however I managed to keep it down and despite Beth eating a chunk of crust pre serving awarded it an 8.


Pie minus some crust.

Stringent testing in progress

The last couple of hours of daylight were spent at Pit-house West where the Bittern was seen going to roost at 17:15 and at least 2 Water Rails calling.

30th January. Day Off

Having seen Beth off to school I had a full six hours of birding to look forward too. Struggling to find any Long-eared Owls this winter so I decided to check some favoured roost sites of the past. Unfortunately all four of them were devoid not only of owls but more or less everything, which led me to wonder if the presence of winter thrushes near these roosts has any direct correlation with the lack of owls. The old big roost at RV back in the late eighties also held 100's of Redwings and more recent roosts also had good numbers o roosting Redwings - until this winter. So before I find any Long-eared' I need to find a thrush roost.

Better luck was had on the Reserve when I managed to flush 35 Common Snipe and 3 Jack Snipe from juncus. A male Peregrine headed north and a pair of Bullfinch and a couple of Stock Doves made four new birds for the year bringing the self found list to 82. The long staying Brent Goose was still present on the new Orgreave Lagoons along with 36 Wigeon.


The nearby Waverley site has in recent years been excellent for Jack Snipe however many parts of it have now gone under the bulldozer and a walk through the boggy areas produced just one Common Snipe. Just before exiting the new Technology Park at Wavereley I caught a glimpse of a couple of Stonechats hardly typical industrial estate specimens! Further down the road and just past Morrisons I picked up a party of nine Waxwings just next to JTF. All in all not a bad winters day.

Industrial strength Stonechat.