29th January. Casper

The gull roost has been building up again with mostly Black-headed Gulls (c.2000 last weekend) but last night several hundred big gulls roosted, raising my hopes of a white-winger. No white wings last night but a near adult Caspian was in the roost from 15:30 onward. Frustratingly I couldn't get a good look at the underwing, but the head shape, bill and beady dark eye looked spot on.

The video (taken in High Speed mode) adds nothing to the I.D of this bird except to show just how strikingly obvious the dark beady eye is. What you don't see is me running up the earth bund behind me and flapping my arms around in an attempt to mimic a huge bird of prey, a trick taught to me by hermit like warden Nick Riddiford on Fair Isle during that ill-fated trip of 86'. The point of flushing them was a desperate attempt for the bird to lift it's bloody wings - it did not even raise a metaphorical eyebrow! Actually this is not the intended video as that is 240mb and my (as previously mentioned) old laptop is currently grinding away trying to upload it!

Fortunately the bird roosted again this evening and Andy, Pete and Roy managed conclusive views and better photos. Incidentally this bird appears to have a knackered left leg.

27th January. New Toy

It's been a while since I did any digiscoping, mainly because my near vision is a bit crap these days and even with glasses I couldn't focus on the small screen of my well used Samsung NV3. After pondering for awhile over whether or not to get a new compact I narrowed the choice down to two cameras the Canon S95 and the Nikon P300. Being a fan of all things Nikon I opted for the latter - though being a typically tight Yorkshire man the £5o price difference swayed me more.

The Orgreave Little Owl was still present this morning and despite a strong breeze proved a good subject for the new camera to get to grips with.

Quite pleased with my first attempts and even happier with the homemade adaptor (saving more of my precious Yorkshire £'s).

The Video setting is very useful with High Speed and full HD, though the latter won't play on my ageing laptop (but the 720 option is more than adequate).

Overall the P300 is very easy to use with simple navigation around the more useful settings i.e. exposure compensation, ISO, aperture and self-timer.

15th January. Long Weekend

The long weekend got off to a good start with a Little Owl on the 'Plains' a new record for the site. Not much of a surprise as I've seen Little Owls at all the adjacent birding spots, with the exception of RVCP.

A pair of Peregrines putting on a spectacular aerial display was the highlight of Saturday afternoon. The evening gull roost has drastically reduced to just handful of large gulls with birds now favouring the more traditional Broomhead roost. Despite this I stuck it out until 4:15 when the numbness in my fingers became too much!

Sunday was another very cold clear start though the building cloud suggested that it might be a good day for goose passage. Sure enough between 9:15 and 9:45 at least 700 birds passed through. A Water Rail, on the river, was a useful self found year tick and almost made up for not finding this Whooper Swan.

8th January. Snow

Stumbled into this rather charming and very obliging Snow Bunting this morning. It's possibly the bird that's been popping up briefly since November, but the first time this year so I'm having it so there!

6th January. The Bus Home

There was something wrong with the bus journey home this evening. It all started when I overheard the bloke behind me moaning to his mate about how the only things in his freezer was pies.I would have offered to empty it for him, but he was wearing one of those hoodie things and probably would have stabbed me or worse.. That however wasn't the most disturbing thing (because nobody should moan about a fridge full of pies) the thing that upset me most was that when I got off the bus I was faced by one of those posters showing that witch Thatcher's evil bastard grinning head - okay so it's really Meryl Streep but it's close enough. Surely this would make a more appropriate poster for the buses of South Yorkshire...

2nd January. A Pie New Year

As the clock struck twelve the list hit zero and for a brief moment I was sad that my years efforts had come to an end, but soon the Unicum had kicked in and I was feeling more optimistic about the coming year and just a little bit pissed.

Nasty nasty nasty stuff

The First Pies Of The New Year

Spent the last day of 2011 at Slimbridge -why? Well we were down at the brother-in-laws for New Year - just a stones throw from last years Oriental Turtle Dove, and Slimbridge being just fifty miles away seemed a good bet for a day out. Obviously we saw lots of nice ducks with half their wings missing and some that had got there under their own steam. However the highlight was an half hour question and answer session on the Spoon-billed Sandpiper chicks that have been brought there with the aim of breeding, and eventually boosting the woefully low number of breeding birds. Following a brief talk we were treated to some live on site CCTV footage of the young (most of which had now attained 1st winter plumage). Ok so it wasn't Samut Sakorn, but it's probably the nearest I'll ever get to these enigmatic birds.