24th August. The Cruel Sea

They say that the sea is a cruel mistress, I've never had a mistress - too middle class - but I dare say if I had she'd be cruel.

Enough waffle. Today was not a good day. Heavy rain throughout the night continued into the morning, past Heir Hunters, beyond Homes under the hammer eventually slowing mid-way through Saints and Scroungers. With wind forecast to swing southwest  and strengthen mid-afternoon the obvious choice was to head to Porthgwarra, as I had done the previous day in less than ideal conditions.  After a brief shopping session in St Just, I got in the car and headed out to Nanquidno!!

The wind had dropped and the sun was out - surely not sea watching weather? I saw nothing in this charming valley and went back to the caravan in Kelynack. I hadn't even got out of the car when a twitter alert informed me of this.....

I moaned, cried and let out a small quantity of wee. A similar last minute change of mind had earlier in the week cost me a delicious crab sandwich after changing to a rather bland hot pork, though this was obviously worse! To make it worse earlier in the week I hinted to the finder, Mark Thomas, that coming down this weekend might be a waste of time!
Another birder staying on our site called round to the caravan catching me in a state of despair complete with head in hands, he was equally (and more deserving) distraught having left PG just an hour before!

Jo didn't help matters by offering her sympathy in the form of the comment "it's only a bird......"

7th August. Hare Brained Fools

Some months back I posted a series of images featuring Hare Coursing activities at Orgreave. After reporting this to the Police and following several arrests I opted to remove the images and all reference to the events, mainly for my own safety but also to avoid jeopardising the case. Rachel, the Wildlife Liaison Officer, put in a great deal of work, taking statements from me and from the landowner (Harworth Estates). These statements, along with my damning photographic evidence, were passed to the CPS. Everything went quiet for a while and following several arrests there has been no Hare Coursing action.

A couple of weeks back Rachel called to say that the CPS were uncomfortable with the Hare Coursing charge, but would support a charge of poaching. This was a bit of a kick in the teeth, as it would effectively free two of the accused, but at least a conviction for poaching would be enough to discourage any further coursing. A successful prosecution hinged on one further piece of evidence - that an independent witness could identify the animal being pursued, in the photographs, as a Hare. As the RSPCA had declined to get involved (apparently it's not their kind of thing) they suggested contacting the Sheffield Wildlife Trust. I wasn't concerned, a blind man walking backwards could see that the animal in the photos wasn't a Rabbit but a Hare. Wrong! Rachel called this morning with bad news. It would seem that the so-called expert witness identified the fleeing Lepus as a Rabbit. To take any doubt away from their ID they even threw in a "there are no Hares on that site" comment.
With one swift kick in the balls the whole case has now been thrown out. It was never going to be a major sentence, no custody and no doubt a nominal fine, but it would have sent a message out that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. Incidentally the four accused confessed to hunting Hares which makes this even more sickening!

I can only assume that if that's a rabbit that the four dogs are actually Jack Russell Terriers

I can't describe how I'm feeling right now but the words angry, frustrated, disappointed and bewildered would go part of the way. I don't know who they spoke with at the Wildlife Trust but I do know that they are clearly incompetent when it comes to the identification of medium sized furry animals and making uneducated comment about a species distribution is frankly inexcusable.
Rachel should be applauded for her dogged determination, as should Harworth Estates for giving the time to give a statement. However the local Wildlife Trust need to get their act together and a close inspection of their 'experts' competence is much needed.  I could have used a few swear words but that would have been childish, I could withdraw my membership of the local wildlife trust but that would equally spite me as much as them. But what I will do is offer someone at SWT an early morning session on how to identify Hares from Rabbits! The urge to swear the very worst of swears is coming over me so I better end right.....

On a lighter note I photographed this delightful Badger in the garden yesterday.....

2nd August. Gulls Galore

5th August Going For Gold

Despite not being an athlete of any sort (though speed eating pies is surely worthy of a place at Brazil 2016)I have been pretty engrossed in the whole Olympic thing. Let's face it we've paid for it, we'll be paying for it for many years to come so why not enjoy it whilst it's here. In between events I managed a few patch visits and struck bronze this morning with a cracking juv Med' Gull - one of my favourite plumaged gulls. Only needing one more species to equal last years personal self-found best it would seem appropriate to equal or even beat it in Olympic fortnight and Goldcrest (surprisingly) would do it!

A late start at work on Thursday meant that I could comfortably spend a couple of hours on the patch at the more realistic time of 8am. With activity on the building site in full swing the gulls were settled on a large bare area at the side of the 'plains'.  A quick scan of the flock (of some 400 gulls) through binoculars showed at least 10 herring gull types. On closer scope views there were at least 13 Yellow-legged Gulls. The video below shows the entire flock with at least 14 candidates and possibly more. How many can you see?