25th February: When I'm 64

The walk to work this morning was enlivened by this humorous piece of 'street art'.

24th February: Achoo

Bless you. A change of scenery this morning with a brief stroll around Pugneys C.P. A drake Smew and a Kingfisher, with a broken lower mandible, were the only highlights. Though some of the inept local birders provided some entertainment!!

23rd February: Man Flu

I had planned to go to Norfolk this weekend and see the Sparrow and anything else that the former birding mecca might have to offer. Unfortunately I have been struck down by a dose of most deadly man flu and have been sat in the house, feeling sorry for myself, since Thursday. I should also be on the goose ridden island of Islay but other circumstances meant I had to cancel ho hum such is life.

17th February. Red Sunday

Having seen at least six Red Kites from the Banbury to London train yesterday it made sense to go and take advantage of a sunny cloudless morning. A 45 minute drive along the M40 gave us fantastic prolonged views of at least 30 individuals including 10 in the air together.

Surely England's finest Raptor

Having had awesome views of the Kites we headed back north. A report of a probable juv Thayer's Gull (or hybrid) at Poolsbrook C.P gave us a good excuse for a diversion on the way home. Unfortunately the gull, which had been showing well, flew back towards Erin Tip 20 minutes before we arrived. However after 30 minutes one of the original finders (KRG) picked up a bird that was probably it flying probably towards Staveley. So I probably saw a probable Thayer's Gull or hybrid, which is what most Thayer's Gulls probably are !!! I hate these obscure gulls. Less obscure was Glacous Gull and a 2nd winter Iceland Gull which was claimed as a Kumlien's (another obscure bag o' shite).

16th February. Blue Saturday

Having stopped following football properly in the early eighties, the only games I tend to watch these days are either on the telly or the occasional freebie. Today was a case of the latter. Jo's dad had acquired tickets to watch Huddersfield at Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA cup. Coming from Yorkshire you'd think Jo and her dad would be going along to cheer on the mighty Terriers - not so they're both followers of Chelsea! They both spent an uncomfortable 90 minutes stifling their celebrations following an under strength Chelsea sides unconvincing 3-1 win.

Mr Lampard celebrates his 1,000,000th Chelsea goal

Stamford Bridge (not the Yorkshire one)

Premier football does not mean premiership pies 5/10 on the pie scale

Escaping from London (why do people want to live there) back to Banbury for an overnight stay meant we would be able to do a spot of birding the following morning.

15th February. What no Coots

Whilst walking around RVCP the it struck me that there's no Coots. Not strictly true there are some but certainly no more than a hundred throughout the Park. An average Jan/Feb count should produce in excess of 600 birds. I can only assume that the usual wintering birds have decided to postpone their migration this year possibly due to mild winter conditions elsewhere.

The pair of Stonechats were still at Pit-house West in the gorse field west of the Chinese Bridge.

10th February. Egrets I've had a few.

After a later than intended start Jo and I headed for the flatlands of North Lincolnshire for a spot of needless twitching. The first stop was at Legbourne for the Cattle Egret which had been present for a week.

One of four Little Egrets at Donna Nook. This one showing some nice plumes

The Spanish rung Glossy Ibis showed very well.

At least 20 Little Grebes in the small pools probably the highest concentration I've ever seen.

The day ended nicely with a showey Short-eared Owl near the Howdens Pullover car park.

9th February. Of unknown origin.

My first full days birding for too long started off with a visit to nearby Ulley Country Park for the two Scaup that have been present for a while. Both birds (male and 1st yr/female) were among a small group of Tufted Ducks off the bridge. Whiston Meadows held just 45 Wigeon and 4 Shoveler.

A brief stop at my mum's for refreshments was interrupted by a pager message of a Night Heron near Penistone. Not the most exciting of birds and possibly of dubious origins it was still tempting. A male Peregrine over the M1, presumably on its way back to the cooling towers at Meadowhall was a brief distraction from driving! The Night Heron was visible from the car park at Scout Dyke and was typically dull, though apparently the first twitchable one in the Barnsley area.
Mid-afternoon I visited Pit-house West and saw bugger all except for a flock of 27 Meadow Pipits and a Red Admiral butterfly basking in the Mediterranean style weather, which no doubt also produced the Night Heron!
Following a two hour trudge round PHW I was torn between returning home for some crispy duck or going to Steetley for a Ferruginous Duck, both coincidently of unknown origin. Unfortunately despite an array of sat' nav', street maps and atlas I not only failed to see the bird I actually failed to find the village - DOH!!

Returning home I had better luck locating the crispy duck as it was still in the fridge and showing well - at least until I'd eaten it! Lunch was spoilt by a call from Andy D' who informed me that the Kumlien's Gull had just dropped on to Broomhead Res'. A quick law abiding dash and I managed to get there with enough light to get some very poor video footage to go with the very bad photos from earlier in the day. Also there an hyperactive Little Gull.

5th February: The Queen is dead long live the Queen

The Queen of Pie making that is. Unless Miggins can come up with a better one then My mum has truly stolen her crown with this magnificent specimen.

Quality pie with obligatory condiment

I had intended to visit the gull roost at Broomhead this afternoon but unfortunately my plans were truly pissed on by a very heavy downpour. Friday will be my next opportunity.

4th February: Log in the bog

The following is not at all bird related though I suspect a rather heavy pie might have contributed.
There's some dirty buggers in this office block. On Friday afternoon I made a semi hurried visit to the water closet. As my favourite trap, number 2, was occupied I turned to trap 1. Horror of horrors a log the size of Moby Dick was floundering menacingly in the now murky waters. I beat a hasty retreat and clenched for a bit longer. Imagine my surprise, this morning, when Tim reported it as still being in a beached state. Fortunately by lunch time an attempt to refloat the beast had been succesful. I should hate to visit the house of whoever commited this most evil of crimes a visit by the Bottom Inspectors is in order.
This whole episode reminds me of a week on the Isles of Scilly. During a stay with the Llamas a suspect package appeared in the toilet and resided there (showing well, despite numerous flushing attempts) for the entire week. This was a particularly good, almost a classic year on Scilly but for me was tarnished by the mystery turd layer of Hugh Town. Which incidently turned out to be a certain egg bound Northern Isles based Llama.

3rd February. Of shops and birds.

Despite Saturday being a very nice sunny day I ended up not venturing out in to the field.
Sunday was no better as the plans for the day involved catching up on sleep, eating, shopping and some minor decorating.
The sleeping went to plan as did the eating of a big grilled breakfast. The shopping was brief, but a quick (if that's possible) visit to the Leeds Ikea produced a rather nice flock of Golden Plovers on their roof and two long staying Waxwings just around the corner. Jo' was suitably impressed with the Waxwings and by the time we had returned to Sheffield she was confidently identifying Wood Pigeons and Black-headed Gulls. My cunning plan to only take her to see pretty birds, such as the Waxwings, is working. Show her the pretty stuff first then when she's hooked introduce her to the brown dregs that Autumn usually offers.