24th April. Other Peoples Crap

I carried on today where I'd left off yesterday, searching for a Ring Ouzel or two but this time at Pit-house West. I tried the higher grassed areas where have at least I have seen them before. Regardless of this I still failed in fact I saw very little. What I did see though was not pleasing on the eye at all. The pools at PHW as I have mentioned before seem to have become the playground of fishing youths. It should be made clear that in no way would I consider these to be fishermen. These are the mindless morons that leave a trail of destruction where ever they park their fat backsides and this week these wasters have excelled themselves.

Arriving at the Bittern Pool I was greeted by this.

Two thirds of the Bitterns favoured roosting area has been torched.
Note the discarded fishing tackle and sweetcorn cans.
Fortunately the new growth had still to come through.

Tired of worm drowning lets rip down some fences for fire wood.

These fences are far too high so they've cut off a couple of rails, thus preserving vital calories.

Slightly away from PHW this Stoat was enjoying playing in a fly tipping pile!

24th April. Target Birds

One thing that's certain to make me put a bit more effort in whilst out birding is something to aim for. It's certainly the reason why I can wander around seemingly birdless crop fields on Shetland in October. I always seem to have some senario in my head that the big one is just around the corner - it seldom is, in fact it very rarely is but when it is then all those hours of birdless drudge are forgotten. Future dull days are enlivened by the memory of the time that you struck proverbial gold and that memory alone just gives you that extra push to get you through the day. So before I set out today I had targets, nothing outlandish just three species; Cuckoo, Redstart and Ring Ouzel. There seemed to be plenty of these three at other locations such as Annersley Pit Top in Notts so why wouldn't they be lurking at Orgreave. Well I walked the entire site, checked every likely nook and cranny spending almost four hours doing so but failed. But the point was that the thought of perhaps getting one of my targets gave me the incentive to keep on pushing through, it's this chance of uncovering the expected or even more the unexpected that keeps me watching a site as bad as Orgreave or Treeton - one day they will come good and the memory of that will fuel my enthusiasm for the coming years.

During the morning I did however manage another three Wheatear and a female Peregrine and then spent an hour or so photographing, or at least attempting, some warbler photos including a constant singing Gropper that hopped on to the adjacent fence briefly.

19th April. Fly Through

Today was one of those days when looking at the forecast made you wish that you weren't at work days. It wasn't a sunny warm forecast it was one predicting clag combined with a light easterly breeze, almost classic conditions for some straying migrants. Unfortunately I had to go to work!

Leaving work at 16:30 with a blinding headache I was torn between an hour or so at Orgreave or going home for a nap. I decided on the former and after a slight diversion to Morrisons for some provisions including some fine half price Scotch pies. Having scoffed two pies by the time I arrived at Orgreave I was feeling much better, though better still was the sight of a couple of hundred hirundines over the lagoon, at last some birds to look through. Whilst scanning through the Swallows and Sand Martins I heard the familiar call of a Yellow Wagtail. Scanning the area in front of me I found not one but eleven of these marigold yellow beauties. I must admit I got quite excited, Yellow Wagtails are far scarer in these parts than they used to be and the first flock I'd seen in many years. For the first time during the day the sun began to shine and no sooner had it done so the Wagtails were on their way like little yellow sprites energised by the brief solar energy. Likewise the swallows began rocketing through and within a couple of minutes the lagoon was devoid of hirundines. Just beyond the wagtails I flushed a wheatear, then another and then three more, this was a red letter day by Orgreave standards and to say that I was enjoying this mini fall was an understatement. Added to this there were Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, 'Ringed' Plovers and a couple more Yellow Wag's all in this small area. This was certainly the best hours local birding I had had in a very long time.

Just for Colin

14th April. RIP 'Gilly'

I was going to write about this evenings birding walk around RVCP and Pit-house West but frankly I didn't see very much though two hunting Long-eared Owls at totally separate locations were very welcome and presumably breeding birds. Obviously I was going to write more than two lines about the evening but lost my thread when I opened an email from Mr Fray informing me of the said death of Martin Gilbert AKA Gilly. I can't pretend to have known Martin that well because I didn't, but I had met him on several occasions first on my first Scilly trip in 1987 and lastly some six years ago at Lands End where I enjoyed a Pallas's Warbler alongside him. Those who really new him would probably agree that he was a smashing lovable eccentric who cared not for modern comforts, apparently recently living in a cave in North Wales. But for most birders of my generation it will be the finding of the two gorgeous Slender-billed Gulls at Cley that Martin will be fondly remembered. RIP mate wherever you are.

I nicked this from Tom Mckinney (who copied it from the Cley bird log) I'm sure nobody will mind

9th-11th April. Filey

Not for lack of trying I have seen very few birds of late and the search for migrants has been somewhat frustrating. Having recently acquired a caravan we decided on a weekend at Filey in order to get used to it before strategically timed trips to Speyside, Northumberland and Cornwall though I'm told that only the former will be a birding trip! Once there I soon found myself reminiscing about 'rare' specimens from years gone by and all seen within just a few hundred yards of our caravan. Memories came flooding back, my first Bonelli's Warbler by the toilet block (just before the mad dash to Flamborough for a, at the time, ultra rare Paddyfield Warbler), Dusky Warbler, Little Auk, Shorelark, Bluethroat, Great Northern Diver all firsts for me at the time. Who could forget the Spectacled Warbler and with other rares such as Sardinian and Pallas's Warblers, Yellow-breasted and Little Buntings that at the time were new birds in Yorkshire. Sadly this was the Filey of old the Filey of today doesn't seem to do it anymore and I've no idea why. Perhaps the early to mid-nineties were it's purple patch, a flash in the pan if you like. Both Saturday and Sunday morning I was out at first light I saw very few birds and just two birders. I saw just one migrant in a couple of hours - a Yellow Wagtail. I suspect that it's a combination of factors, a lack of birds, some of the old regulars defecting to sites further south and perhaps the remaining regulars getting on a bit. Despite not seeing much at all I still got that buzz each time I caught a movement in the hedge bottom, even if it did turn out to just be a Chaffinch. I'm sure Filey as still got it and perhaps one year it will return to its glory days of the early Eighties - I do hope so.

The highlight of the weekend.

There's always the old favouries if all else fails.

A trip to Bempton for some Puffin stroking is a must.

8th April. Law and Order

Following my trip to Suffolk it would seem that I wasn't the only one taking crap fuzzy photos that day.


As if the speeding ticket wasn't enough I also got called for jury service of all times in early May! Fortunately as I had already booked a holiday I managed to get it deffered to.... September!!