23rd April. In Bloom

The last few days have been fairly productive though I've still a few holes in the year list, some despite being relatively regular are scarce at this young site, namely:  Lesser Whitethroat (only one last year), Grasshopper Warbler (no records since 2011), Sedge Warbler (very rare here, just 2 records). A nice surprise this morning though was a partial summer plumage Spotted Redshank an unexpected patch tick and my first new species this year.

Is there a finer looking spring than a male Whinchat? Though this one was a bit drab compared to the cracking male earlier in the week.
However, any male form of Yellow Wag' is a worthy contender 

Hopefully a few more of these before the spring is out.

Another good year so far with double figures most days over the last week. No Greenland types yet though.

16th April. Cape Teal

Had another one of those 'not been sat at my desk very long when the mega alert goes' off moments yesterday, when news of the Flamborough Baikal Teal broke.

I always find it difficult to get excited about ducks, particularly when their provenance is generally viewed as suspect. This bird however at least ticked the fully winged (though there was some slight secondary and primary damage on the right wing) and unringed boxes and the fact that it was picked up initially, on a seawatch, by Flamborough stalwart Brett Richards helps give it a little more credibility. Pretty impressive work by the salty old seawatching dog.

A cracking male and only 1.5 hours away it would have been rude not to go.  Despite moving from Northcliffe Marsh to Old Fall and then being flushed by a couple of dogs it settled infront of the hide back at Northcliffe it slept (most of the time) before feeding among a handful of Wigeon. Unfortunately both cameras and my scope were left at home so I had to make do with a few phonescoped images. Whatever the provenance it was a pretty smart bird in wild surroundings.

This wasn't the first Baikal Teal that I've seen in Britain. The first was a suppressed (cough) female at Fort Henry Ponds, Leicestershire some twenty odd years ago.  Where after being drugged* and a hood placed over my head*, I was driven to the edge of some private estate where upon arrival I was beaten* and forced at gunpoint* to look through a scope at a drab though subtle duck cavorting among the resident Mallards. To my utter amazement it was rejected - though this did save me the guilt of knowing I had a suppressed bird on my list.

Now the bird has gone the usual bollocks debate has begun on Birdforum. Despite the sniping    the decision ultimately rests with the BBRC and at least one serving member seemed happy with it.

*all lies

14th April. A Request For Common Sense

Please stick to the path

Orgreave is becoming ever popular with birders and it's seemingly impossible to visit these days without seeing another. Most visiting birders stick to the footpaths around the lakes but lately an increasing number have choose to wander around the waters edge. For most of the lakes perimeter this isn't a problem, but frustratingly birders often wander onto the western and southern margins flushing the feeding/breeding waders. To put this in to context I've witnessed more disturbance by birders than dog walkers over the last week.  In defence of dog walkers they are generally ignorant to any harm that they might be doing and I'm sure that in the majority of cases would keep to the path if they knew. However, birders should know better, particularly where breeding birds are concerned. We are trying to encourage dog walkers to keep to the path in this area, but need birders to set a good example. So please stick to the path in these areas, particularly between the drain and the causeway separating the two lakes, after all you wouldn't want to appear on the pages of this blog - with a rather unkind (though wholly justified) comment attached!

The landowners, Harworth Estates, have kindly agreed to put up signs requesting visitors to stick to the path in these areas. Whilst these won't have the benefits of a physical boundary they will hopefully make people aware and encourage the majority to keep to the permissive rights of way. Hopefully these will be in place in the next couple of weeks.

Anyway now I've got that off my chest.....

No big push yet but finally migrants are starting to get through.  Monday produced my first Sand Martin with a lone pioneer heading north in the still biting easterly wind. 

Post work, on Tuesday, paid off with a Scandinavian Rock Pipit and a Ruff, the latter only just about annual here. The post work visits continued to pay off peaking at the end of the week with a Jack Snipe and 2/3 Little Gulls along with a cloud of c.250 Sand Martins

Despite the late arrival of all of the early migrants the mid-April birds appear to be arriving bang on cue with a Common Tern, Yellow and White Wagtails and Willow Warbler all putting in an appearance over the last few birds.

8th April. Dead But Never Forgotten

This is going to be predictable, but I've waited a very long time for this, three-quarters of my life in fact. MARGARET THATCHER IS DEAD and I for one am overcome with Joy. I'm not proud that I'm celebrating the death of a senile old woman but I am proud that I am celebrating the death of Thatcher.

I grew up between the steelworks of Sheffield and Rotherham and the ten coal mines of the Rother Valley. The sound of shunting trains at night lulled me to sleep as they moved steel and coal from the nearby marshalling yards. From the late 1970's this familiar environment gradually fell into decline. I'm not naive, I know that change was needed in many of these industries and often change can be unpleasant, but this was different. Throughout the 80's the Iron Lady brought misery to the communities of South Yorkshire . As a youth I witnessed the steel strikes and picketing miners at Orgreave. These weren't men striking for more money these were men fighting for their jobs and their right to provide for their families and you could and still can see it in their eyes. The Tories, with Thatcher at the helm, seemingly led a crusade throughout South Yorkshire to destroy the heavy industries that the largely socialist residents had their roots anchored in. In turn this destroyed the communities, something I saw particularly around Barnsley in the post Thatcher years.  She created  what we have now, a society where we're all in it for ourselves and community spirit is replaced by community service.

I wasn't brought up to hate Thatcher, It just grew inside me like a cancer. The very mention of her name in anything other than derogatory terms filled me with anger and anyone who didn't agree with me was either a Tory or a twat, or at least I thought so.  My family aren't socialists, I even suspect that they might have voted Tory at sometime, we were lucky my dad was a bus driver and apart from deregulation, survived the Tory slaughter. I'm not a raving lefty I just believe in a fair and just society and if you don't then you're either a Tory or a....

When I heard the news (thanks dad) I cheered, I smiled and something in me died.. all the hate that was left, that cancer that had grown deep in me vanished almost instantly, my demons were exorcised.

People will try and tell me how great Thatcher was, that she created this (not so) Great Britain. It won't wash with me I saw it through my own eyes and I didn't like it one bit.....
Billy says "good fucking riddance Maggie"