A few sites around Rotherham came good on Friday morning where I managed to add Green Sandpiper and Little Grebe at Centenary Riverside and Red-legged Partridge and Little Owl at Thrybergh. However my abandoned visit to RV left me still needing Willow Tit. The reason for abandoning was this cracking adult Caspian Gull found by Pete Wragg at Poolsbrook.
My return to RV to look again for Willow Tit and Chiffchaff was disturbed by larusophile Pete who had now found a Yellow-legged but not wanting to leave Bethany sitting on the doorstep I passed.
Saturday was never going to be a good birding day, several hours work, taking Beth to school and pissing down rain did not bode well. Fortunately I had a two hour window. I tossed a mental coin and headed for Beeley Wood in search of Lesser Pecker. Walking a mile or so from the car and scrambling up / falling down a railway embankment proved fruitless. Time running out and almost back at the car I stumbled upon a tit flock, gave a quick blast on the ipod and nothing. A text to Martin informing him of my failings did the trick and almost as soon as I'd pressed send the little bugger appeared in front of me. Another trip to RV mid-afternoon was again aborted in favour of 8 Corn Buntings at Pebley.
Sunday was going to be tricky I had to juggle family stuff with a few birds in the Peak. Monsal Dale first for Marsh Tits which eventually (after sending Jo and Beth to the cafe) were found adjacent to the viaduct followed by another sliding / falling over session on the ice.
The Derwent at Froggatt was somewhat in heavy flow and consequently the Dipper wasn't there.
Brambling appear to be in short supply this winter and Longshaw Visitors Centre at the moment is the only site pulling them in. Walking up to the centre I received a text from Pete which stated "Mealy Redpoll on feeders Longshaw" Bonus! A frustrating wait, another hot chocolate for Beth and a few tantalising glimpses of Redpolls did nothing for my patience - though an invisible skein of Pinkies over head added themselves to the list. I was clear by now that Jo was also losing patience - not with not seeing the Mealy or the Brambling but with my apparent obsession! Fortunately a nice white-wing barred, grey toned Mealy dropped on the floor with the lessers and a drake Brambling landed in the tree opposite. Brownie points now running in the negative we headed back to the car for a delicious crisp sandwich - I know I spoil them two!
Aware of a situation brewing I decided not to spend too long looking over Ladybower for Raven and thus failed. Another call from Pete left me frustrated in that he'd scored Raven, Dipper and Marsh Tit just down the road from Monsal Dale - bugger!
A quick tally up leaves me just 4 species behind the leader, though getting Willow Tit, Golden Plover, Raven and Dipper would see to that.