28th November. Not Available In The Shops

Those of you who've been worrying about the health/sanity of LGRE need fear no more. Since his disappearance from the birding scene (well since he got kicked off Bird Foru...Blah Blah Blah) rumours of his dwindling health have been rife. Thankfully it became clear on Friday that it was in fact his lesser known doppelganger a Mr George Michael that was indeed ill and that aids (shouldn't that be aides?) close to LARGE knew his whereabouts.

Turns out LiaRGE had shut himself away in the cupboard under the stairs of his Little Chalfont home, with his Fisher Price tape recorder and a months supply of chicken cup o soup, to bring you his latest musical offering 'Praise Me'. Remember this is not available in the shops and stock is shifting quick (ten copies were dispatched to an address in Crawley this lunchtime) Order now in time for Christmas....

26th November. Snubbed

A quiet weekend on the patch, though another (or the same) Caspian Gull was found by Andy on Saturday. I rudely snubbed it by staying in and cleaning the oven! But he did oblige me with some nice photos again!!

Photos by Andy Deighton

20th November. Performing Seals

Almost too foggy to bird this morning, but given that I only had an hour I opted for a quick walk on the patch. Visibility was that poor you could hardly see the waters edge so I opted to check the bushes and river side trees. Not surprisingly woodland birds don't feature too highly on the list at Orgreave so a Treecreeper calling set the pulse racing almost as much as the earlier Smew and being a new species for the site equally valuable!

The seal colony at Donna Nook has long been a favourite late autumn day out so having promised Beth and her friend that we'd go we went. It's always been popular but thanks to that twat Packham and his hit man and her sidekick it's gone nuclear! The overflow car park was overflowing and the constant train of people trudging over the dunes was like a scene from dawn of the dead - but with white tracksuits and baseball caps! The seals performed but the whole thing was about as enjoyable as being dragged around Meadowhall by my testicles - still the girls seemed to enjoy it.


18th November. 130

Having turned down two lifts for the Eastern Black Redstart this weekend I was bound to feel a little gripped off. Fortunately you can't tick it (yet) so I didn't mind missing out. How many of us are still counting the cost of a similiar attitude towards the Essex Red-throated Thrush all those years back? Cough splutter - me for one!

However my extended weekend got off to a cracking start on Friday when I found a red-head Smew on the patch. Self-found patch year bird number 130 and a new bird for the rapidly expanding Orgreave list.

13th November. Predictable

I left the house this morning with one particular species in the back of my mind - White-fronted Goose. Nothing exciting, but locally scarce and given a notable number of inland records over the last few days surely a contender for the next patch tick. After a couple of hours counting ducks and grilling the Meadow Pipit and Linnet flocks I wandered over towards the 'plains'. Some newly seeded areas had recently proven popular with the roaming Canada/Greylag flock. Finding the flock I instantly found two White-fronts feeding on the edge of the flock. Incredible if only finding birds was always this easy and predictable.

Andy Deighton managed, as is becoming the norm, far better shots than me.

Some disturbance from the locals

And they were off!!

Back down in the evening and there was no sign of the geese. The White-fronts brought the self-found patch year to 128 and a Water Rail below the Rother bridge was another. Hoping that the 130th will be something special...

8th November. What An Ugly Bunch We Are

Glancing at Eric Didner's Long-toed Stint photos I noticed a couple of things; One of which is that our Gallic neighbours can sort out Long-toed Stints a damn sight quicker than we can. The other ,even more obvious, was that the majority of French Twitchers don't quite resemble us Brits. I present my evidence below:

French Specimen 1 - Handsome Bastard!

British Specimen 1. The Elephant Man thought it best to cover up

French Specimen 2. One glance at this Clooney esq specimen will have Mrs Bagnell heading for the Ryan Air ticket desk.

British Specimen 2. And it'll take a bit more than a big list to lure her back!!

French Specimen 3. The bloke in the hat is clearly an English birder.

British Specimen 3. Dumb, Dumb and Dumber

French Specimen 4. "Bonjour Carmel"

British Specimen 4. Another Brit birder clearly too embarrassed to show his grotesque features, or is he merely secreting a pie!

So there we have it British birders are ugly. Our near European neighbours, whilst lacking in the number of rare, are clearly a bunch of handsome gits that must spend the best part of their time literally beating the birds off with a shitty stick.

I must point out that I was assisted with my research by my ever loving wife Jo and I am most definitely not on the turn, that said, specimen 2 is a bit of a looker.... Oh eck!!!

3rd November. Gripping Stuff

The problem with being a working birder is that sooner or later retired/non working birders are eventually going to grip you off. Today proved to be one of these days, when I got a call saying Ray Platts had found a Grey Phalarope below the earth mound.

edit: It seems that Ray wasn't the original finder see comments below.

Fortunately I did manage to get down to Orgreave in my lunch. But the gripping (at least on a not finding things myself basis) continued when Andy found two Twite feeding exactly where I found last years Snow Buntings. Fortunately these also hung around long enough. Two species that would have fitted nicely on the SF Patch List - bugger!

Continuing the theme of me not only being unable to find anything (apart from stringy laridae) but also losing the ability to take decent photos (or any for that matter) here are a few crackers from Andy.