29th July. "Hello. Is that Norris McWhirter?"

"Dedication, dedication, dedication that's what yer need..." was what the late Roy Castle would sing just before he'd get down on his knee and do that Al Johnson bit "if you wanna be a record breaker... yeah" Even at nine years old I was a cynical bastard and would shout back (admittedly in my head) "bollocks, the best way to break a record is to come up with something that no sane person on earth would think of like err how many black jelly babies can you shove up your arse!

So the point of the last paragraph (apart from perhaps the chance to get a few weak laughs) was that today I broke a record and just like some of those freaks on Record Breakers I too made it up. Today I broke my Orgreave self-found year list record - woo hoo. Last year I managed a total of 120 species - now lets not get too excited I could have a good day out in Norfolk and beat that. But lets put it into context, Orgreave is a barren wasteland stuck next to the M1 slap bang between Sheffield and Rotherham and more famous for it's rioting miners than birding. I thought that I'd had a good year last year and had settled for equalling this year at best, so to beat it before August was surprising to say the least.

So at 6 this morning, when scanning the gulls at the northern shore of the large lake I picked up a flock of roosting terns. Aware of several parties of Arctic Terns in the Midlands over the last few days I set up the scope and sure enough was faced with not only the 120th species this year but also a site tick a total of 15 Arctics. They didn't stay long but treated me to a close flypast before heading northwest - though a couple did return. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was again present along with a juvenile. A return visit this evening produced species 121 with 3 imm/fem Common Scoters and one of the Arctic Terns. I've a feeling this autumns going to be a good one.

So back to Roys opening line. I suppose, if I hadn't got the dedication that I've had this year I'd still be chasing that target - now where did I put those Jelly Babies.

Oh Amy if only you'd stuck to Jelly Babies.

25th July. Scream For Me Sheffield

Realised one of my things to do before I die ambitions yesterday. I finally got to see the mighty Iron Maiden. Thinking that they were probably past their best and most likely ever so slightly Spinal Tap, I was more than happy to be proven wrong - so very wrong. In the words of my cyber (or should that be Cider) friend Tom M "Maiden Flipping Rock" In fact it was Tom's writing and general man love of all things Maiden that lead to me becoming reacquainted with the music of my youth. Thanks Tom you twat.

The only downside was whilst walking round Orgreave this morning, I couldn't hear a thing apart from a strange whooshing noise in my ears!

The Trooper

Steve Harris, bass playing God with the energy of a teenager

23rd July. Chip Off The Old Block

In a shock move Beth said she'd go out birding with me this morning. She wasn't even phased when I said I was going out before seven am and set her alarm for six. After doing a circuit of Orgreave, where three adult Yellow-legged Gulls showed well, Beth insisted on walking the extra distance to Morrisons for a pie! Following a couple of excellent steak pies we walked the Rother towards Whiston. We saw nothing of note except for a bit of graffiti chalked on the motorway bridge.

20th July. Little Egret

With an apparent Little Egret influx it was no surprise that Orgreave finally pulled in it's first of the year (on Wednesday) only to be followed by a second bird (that I failed to see) ten minutes later. I'd almost written off any chance of one this year as I figured that the Arctic conditions at the back end of last year had either pushed all the northern birds south or worse still frozen them to death.

16th July. Can't Believe It's Not Better

Successfully managed an early morning circuit of Orgreave every morning for the last week with a couple of evening visits thrown in for good measure. Not a great deal of new stuff but a steady build up of Lesser Black-backed Gulls pulled in the first Yellow-legged Gull, an adult on the 13th. Coincidentally the same date as the first (also an adult) last year - creatures of habit?

Other than that it's been pretty dull - hopefully things will get better over the next few weeks.

"or you'll have someones eye out"

I often got told off as a child, but one of the things that stuck in my mind was that if I waved things about in the air I would have someones eye out. This usually referred to rubber bands, blades of grass and sticks with dog shit on the end! Nowhere did my parents warn me of the dangers of messing about with injured birds.

It would seem that no one else was warned about the danger of birds either - particularly those with big stabby beaks - after some bloke lost sight in one eye from a dying Gannet. I'm sure that when he went to pick it up he was more concerned about the animals welfare than his own and to be fair probably didn't think that the bird had the strength to lift its head let alone lunge at him.

So it fills me with despair and not a great deal of surprise that another human being - admittedly at the lowest end of the evolutionary scale - would make a comment, on a popular forum like this; "Anyone who picks up a bird with a bloody big, sharp beak and doesn't think "I'm going to get a good grip on that bugger" deserves all that happens to them." and this "I love how you are all acting like it was you who had your eye pecked out. Its an eye the guy isn't gonna have difficulties in day to day activities and its not like I'm calling him a w**ker he just should have been more cautious and before any of you say, I do have a missing body part so I know it isn't a big deal." No prizes for guessing which missing body part!

Poor chap I hope he isn't filled with as much hatred as some of the pond life on Bird Forum!!

7th July 2011. China Syndrome

Having done an early morning tour of Orgreave, where an impressive total of 17 LRP's was the highlight, I settled into the journey to work. Engrossed in my Metro and the heinous goings on at News International I was distracted by a text from Andy telling me to listen to Radio Sheffield. They were apparently running a story about new plans for a development at Pit-house West - a Chinese theme park. You really couldn't make it up!

One of the attractions already confirmed:

The Tiananmen Tank Challenge. How long will your nerve hold, as you line up in front of a fleet of heavily armed artillery, threatening to crush your very existence, shopping bags provided.

To quote Toby Foster (Radio Sheffield presenter and former Phoenix Nights drummer)

"All attractions free except Tibet"

Unlike the doomed YES project this new scheme has applied for over 5 million of government money. Can't help thinking of this classic Simpsons sketch when it comes to Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council's planning board meetings.

4th July. Thank Flip

Despite being almost 42 I still get told off for swearing by my parents and the memories of having my mouth washed out by a crusty bar of imperial leather will live with me forever - so flip it is!

With the exception of the first week, June has been a terrible month. A month that has seen me spending even more time in veterinary waiting rooms, wasting my life reading 'that thread' on Birdforum and doing very little birding.

July couldn't come around quick enough - but eventually it did. Throwing myself back into the birding before work regime, I scored on my first attempt with a Greenshank heading south over Orgreave. Great this is it autumn begins.

Pumped full of enthusiasm I did a return visit in the evening and scored a pair of Pochard and a site first!

Great White Dogs Eggs

Look out for a full ID feature on Birding Blogs, where Tom Mckinney will explain how to separate Greater from Lesser with the help of a plopagram graph thingy.