30th November. Snow Joke

Apologies for the Sun/Star heading.

Very little to write about over the last ten days or so. It's not that I'm not allowed out birding now I'm a married man - far from it. I've had a couple of visits to Pit-house West and several to Orgreave. I don't need to tell you how cold it currently is but I achieved a personal weather first on Sunday, birding in temperatures of -11 degrees C.

Not surprisingly Orgreave was very quiet, in fact only one dog walker had ventured out. The few ducks present and the Coots had found salvation in a small area of open ice whilst the lapwings had more than a touch of frost on them. A group of three Golden Plovers flushed from aside the path - only my second record this year were the only highlight.

At Pit-house West at least one Bearded Tit was still showing, albeit briefly and not for the camera. Though I did manage to capture this idyllic winter scene.

See how this rustic gate has been lovingly adorned with a variety of supermarket carrier bags containing dogs eggs.


Like the freezing weather it's been difficult to escape Waxwings around Sheffield this autumn, unlike the weather I'm not already bored of them. Wandered out of the office for a spot of naked birding yesterday (29th) and located the 80 or so that had been reported earlier in the day. Spiralling round starling like they briefly settled in some berry laden bush before being flushed by commuters. I returned again today with the camera expecting nothing. At a distance the trees appeared empty but on getting closer a solitary bird became evident. This bird was ridiculously tame and posed nicely for the camera. I also picked up a flock of c.80 birds over the station but they showed no interest in the berries or the lone bird. A nice break from the office for a change.

19th November. Wedding Presents

I needed to get out of the house for a couple of hours this morning. The reason? Because today was the day that Jo and I were getting married and I was bricking myself! A couple of hours birding was just what I needed. There was quite a bit of mist around, so I opted to walk around the edge of Orgreave just in case any of the Lap Bunts were still around. There was very little going on, though a large party of mipits kept me occupied for a short while and the lakes are showing promise with increasing numbers of duck, particularly Pochard which prior to this year had only been recorded in single figures though now numbered almost sixty birds. Hiding among the common ducks was an imm/fem Common Scoter, only my third here. Better still was a Stonechat which remarkably was a patch tick pushing my Orgreave self found year list to 119. A nice couple of early wedding presents.

Photo courtesy of Martin Garner (though I haven't atually asked him)

Anyhow birding over and it was back to the days events.

16th November. Arty Poo

I have long thought that I suffer from a bit of S.A.D or should that just be sad? So the last two days of beautiful blue sky and no wind did nothing to help me. By 3pm I was getting irritable and just generally pissed off so I did a couple of site visits and knocked off at 3:30pm. This gave me enough time to get to Pit-house West and get some therapy. Arriving by the Bittern Pool, in good time, I immeditely heard 'some' Bearded Tits which then stopped calling and never showed. I thought standing by the concrete drain would be a good spot to get a flight shot of the Bittern as it headed for roost. I was right about it being a good spot, but the photo was a right pile of shit!

Arty shit or what!

The above goes to prove that no matter how much photoshop nounce you have you just can't polish a turd!

15th November. Gyr Crakes

I'm not one for constantly using You Tube to fill the blog post gaps but couldn't resist this.

14th November. Beardy Bloke

A fruitless couple of hours at Orgreave where the only birds that made it in to the notebook were 45 Fieldfares heading west. Noticeably less Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and for the first time since in a week no Lap Bunts, so I'll just have to make do with the photos from yesterday. The mornings birding had to be cut short as I had to return home to make a pie for the future in-laws.

Just as I was putting the finishing touches to a nice meat and potato pie I had a call from Kev again. He'd had a report of four Bearded Tits at Pit-house West. Seeing as I didn't manage photos of the 2004 birds I seized the opportunity to nip out before Jo's parents arrived.
The finder was still present, but hadn't seen the birds for two hours. Having only an hour spare I decided on encouraging them out with the iPod (I believe the term is to Harrop) this worked a treat. Within a few seconds the birds appeared feeding unconcerned just a few yards away, a rattled off a few record shots and made it back in time for our guests!

In my opinion one of the best looking birds on the British list

A very tasty specimen

13th November. Another Good Local Day

Following a Friday night out with a few birding mates I was slightly less than fit for an early mornings birding. However I had foolishly agreed to meet my boss at Orgreave in hope of showing him the Lapland Buntings. Anyway John arrived on time and I managed to find him a Lapland Bunting a nice showy bird as well - successfully securing a day off for the next mid-week 'mega'!
Three skeins of Pink-feet, totalling around 250 birds also passed through during the first hour.

A phone call from Kev mid morning informed me of a Great Northern Diver at nearby RVCP. I had planned to visit there in the afternoon anyway to carry out this months WEBS count so the Diver would at least be an incentive for this laborious task. With the count completed in record time we drove round to the Sothall side where the bird showed well in the mid-afternoon sun. Gripped off by Andy's 'rod end' shots of the Lap Bunt in full light we popped back and managed the above in now fading light and at 3200 ISO.

More obliging than last years juvenile but I'm still struggling with birds on water.

7th November. What a Carry On

Another Lap

Enough of the sillyness. Back down on Orgreave this morning and fortunately the Lap Bunts were still present. Infact they had increased to three and had stopped being so flighty though still difficult to find among the grass. I did however manage my own photos this time - which were a bit crap!

Another new addition on the Orgreave list (photo at Catcliffe) was this Red-Crested Pochard - which was annoyingly found by Duncan!

A change of scenery in the afternoon with a stroll around the Botanical Gardens - that hot bed of rare action and supression in the late 80's (it's all water under the bridge these days). Enjoying a coffee outside the cafe I was quite pleased to see a party of 27 or so Waxwings flycatching from the tops of some nearby trees. Keeping the theme of the day going I took more crap shots!

6th Novemeber. A Merry Lap Dance

Well there I was thinking it was all over, so much so that at Orgreave I'd taken to counting the Canada Geese feeding on the path. Counting a total of 122 I'd by now started to drift off into a daydream (about pie fillings) when I noticed a small passerine flick up and down into the long grass. Walking over I gave an impatient PISH - no sooner had I done so a Snow Bunting flew up, called and circled the lake several times before heading off high to the south. Minutes later I heard the call again and eventually picked up not one bird but two mobbing a Kestrel perched on the viewing pole minding it's own business. Both these birds had obvious amounts of white in the wing but a third bird didn't! These birds dropped down and I lost them. Fortunately the Snow Bunts were very vocal and I soon picked up a bird overhead, not only that but also a calling Lapland Bunting which landed some way away on the causeway between the two lakes. This bird and another (God knows how many individuals were actually involved) were soon located on the ground but typically got up as soon as I raised the camera. As far as I knew this was the last sighting. However when I got in this evening I discovered that Thrybergh birder Mike Smethurst had managed some excellent shots of each.

Both shots by Mike Smethurst

A celebratory pie was called for and prior to another visit to Orgreave I knocked up a trio of these turkey,leek and mushroom pies, ending a rather splendid day for pies and birds.

4th November. Cat's Claws Pulled Out

In a week that has seen all that is bad in the world of birding laid bare for even common non-birding types to guffaw at, it comes as a great shock that every birders favourite feline has expired.

Things were clearly amiss earlier in the week when the cat showed little signs of life at BBC4's offering. By Wednesday and following the revelations that the Scillies sharpie was just a midget sprawk even a faint meow could not be heard.

Like those birding satarists before it, the Cat has shuffled off some might say at it's peak, others might not.

Perhaps like the Llama and Sir Mckinney of Glossop, the cat will make a comeback. After all don't cats have nine lives?

2nd November. Ladies and Gentlemen

I did try, believe me I did. But last nights car crash TV was too good an opportunity to pass on. Overall I thought the program 'Twitchers' was well made and relatively accurate - none of that 'Dipper' in a rowing boat off Blakeney nonsense that Channel 4 made some years back.

Thankfully the President and his sea of bizarre comments have taken the hard work out of writing this blog post. The following are a selection of LGRE's best quotes from an hours toe curling / hilarious viewing.

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you the president of the British Birding Association:

"I'm the equivalent of George Michael in the birding world. The way he has led his life is exactly the same way that I've led my life."

"13% of British birders are cheats unfortunately, and quite a few are incompetent."

"If you mention the word Lee Evans, it polarises people."

"My job is almost like being the Prime Minister, like Gordon Brown. There's no one polarises people more than me."

"I've always been the policeman of British birding, you can't have a free for all."

"I've always prided myself on being the boss."

"I love what I do, but it's the people around it that make it sad. The people bring it down."

"A lot of birding is about the psychology of birders. You've got to get in the brains of birders and the psyche of them to learn what they're about. I've spent a whole career doing that and I can identify these strange bods that are going to commit crimes, birding crimes."

"I find it very depressing when I turn up at a rarity, you can almost feel the aura of all the voices talking about you."

"What ever I get involved with I become exhumed with it."

And if Garry ever though he had a friend in Lee:

"Garry's probably one of my closest associates in birding and I really like him. I would still never let him in to my inner circle as such because I don't trust Garry. I guess he's probably loyal, but I still couldn't trust him."
Of his 7 year old year-listing rival:

"I don't really take any individual under the age of ten seriously"

Gary on the other hand is clearly a very obsessed individual whose selfish lifestyle will ultimately be the ruin of him, that's not a dig it's an observation from someone who once had a similar attitude to seeing 'rare' - me! Whilst the highest monetary price I ever paid was £160 for a Pine Grosbeak - the ultimate price was the reduced amount of time that I now see my daughter for! Gary take note.

And finally I should take heed of Garry's words:

"If you fall out with Lee it can become a problem. He can destroy people!"