26th September. Wake Me Up When September Ends.....

What a God awful month September is proving to be - at least for me. Those two bastard Ravens that flew over on the 1st seem to have placed some kind of curse on the patch leaving it devoid of anything worthy, certainly a case of 'Nevermore' for the time being. In almost forty visits this month the best that I've managed is 3 Ruff, 4 Little Egrets and today, bird of the month, a Rock Pipit which was my first autumn record here.

To add to my woes Shetland looks set to be sinking under the weight of rares and scarce in the coming days, with Yellow-broweds almost as numerous as the number of 'crews' up there. Which brings me to another moan. Who the f*ck started calling a carload of birders a 'crew'?  When I think of a crew I think of youths wearing tracksuits and bandannas or a ship load of blokes a bit like this:
So as correctly pointed out by Dr Collinson, of the BOU, the correct terminology is a 'carload' or a 'busload' (if more than 5 and over 65). If you use the term 'crew' then you deserve your cars brakes to fail sending you over Hermaness to a salt watery grave.. So don't!!

More gripping than any of the Shetland birds so far has been the abundance of rare pies seemingly concentrated in the Voe area despite rumours (on Twitter) to the contrary. Ryan Irvine (one of the Patchwork founders) tweeted these gripping images of a massive fall of the Johnson and Wood variety.

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Having sampled all of the above I wasn't too upset but then he tweeted a picture of a previously undescribed specimen with an Asian influence I was truly gripped:
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Showing well

6th September. Another Promising Day

Keeping an eye on the weather through the week suggested that Saturday could be good and Friday would be wet, very wet.

Arctic Tern in the murk
Setting out at dawn it was disappointingly dry, though there had been some rain during the night, but there was a light northeasterly wind and it certainly felt promising, almost as good as skua day (I really need to move on from that). Arriving at the patch I first checked the small lake, surely there would be some waders around the edge - there wasn't. Plenty of gulls on the larger lake, including an adult Yellow-legged and a group of terns, an adult and 3 juvenile Arctics, surely a good sign.

I did two laps of the lakes and as the rain by now seemed set in and the birds just weren't happening I threw the towel in and headed for work.  This was one of my fortnightly Fridays off and I needed to build some time up so at the time it made sense to work - didn't it?
Well no it didn't. Throughout the morning there were messages of inland skuas in Derbyshire and West Yorkshire and clearly I had made the wrong choice.

I left work at 3 getting to Orgreave just after 3:30 where immediately it was clear that birds had arrived. More ducks, 4 Curlew a couple of Snipe and lots of Meadow Pipits. A juv' Arctic Tern and better still a juv Little Gull on the western edge, clearly birds out of the North Sea. Ten Snipe heading high north, a juv Wheatear, 2 Whinchats and a circling Ruff added to the magic of this 60 miles inland 'fall'. But all this left a bitter taste in my mouth - what had I missed? What if I hadn't gone to work and stuck it out in the rain? I'll never know and as seemingly no other local birders were out I didn't suffer being gripped off.

1-5 September. Dog Days

After the excitement of the Long-tailed Skua things gradually reverted to normal i.e. not very many birds.  The less than great birding conditions became frustratingly difficult with an apparent increase in dog walkers flushing everything. After noting the actions of one individual previously in the week - he basically did two laps with the dog constantly barking and disturbing everything - I decided to ask him (politely) if he wouldn't mind avoiding the west bank. To my surprise he was very pleasant and said he would try to keep the dog away. Unfortunately all the time I was chatting to him, the dog playing in the mud, a Dunlin stood no less than 3 foot away literally watching us seemingly unconcerned. The nice dog walker commented on it and I felt a right tit. In future I'm just going to look the other way and let them get on with it - stupid birds.

I did however, in the last couple of weeks, manage another two patch firsts, a Tawny Owl, a couple of Ravens and an eclipse drake Garganey next door on Catcliffe Flash. The flash subsequently enjoyed a purple patch with Bittern (which was seen to fly off over Orgreave) and a Marsh Harrier - maybe it's time to stretch the patch boundary.