28th June. Cemlyn

Waking up to a cracing sunny day we decided to spend the day on Anglesey where any self respecting Royal Tern would surely hang out. The lagoons at Cemlyn is probably my favourite place in North Wales mainly due to th quality rare Terns that it's produced over the years. After having had a couple of poor seasons, apparently due to the local Grey Herons and some marauding gulls, they are fairing quite well this year with a healthy looking population and a endless stream of adults carrying sand eels.

Holyhead Harbour was the next step where a total of eight Black Guillemots were found just off the long stay car park. By the time we reached South Stack the temperatures had increased birding was starting to become uncomfortable but the call of an overhead Chough revealed three birds departing from a swirling mass of around fourty individuals, presumably a post breeding gathering.

27th June. Shotgun

With a strong urge to escape this weekend I decided on throwing the tent in the back of the car and heading away from it all. Question was though were to go? Having enjoyed Llandudno so much last weekend Jo and I decided on a return visit, after all it seemed that if the Royal Tern was going to put in a reappearance on the Welsh coast I would at least be within striking distance and perhaps even in with a chance of a re find. As it turned out it didn't reappear and I'd more chance of discovering Lord Lucan receiving fellatio off the Queen Mum - now that really would have been a Royal turn!!

"You should have been here last week"

22nd June. Bird Forum

It's been a while since I wandered along the dark corridors of Bird Forum and a quick look at the Royal Tern thread reminded me just why I tend to stay away these days. The caption at the end of this 'Doc Marten's League Twitcher's post' says it all really.

Click on the image. A pie related prize to the best alternative suggestion.

20th June. Royal Snub

In what is becoming a familiar pattern of late I again managed to dip on another lifer. The Royal Tern was inconveniently mega alerted just as we sat down for a family get together. Forcing me to endure a few hours of anxiety and near heartburn. There's not been many rarities lately that have got the old twitching enthusiasm flowing but this one certainly had the adrenaline well pumped. Fortunately as we were eating close to the Leeds end of the M62 the journey should have been pretty trouble free. Setting off at 17:50 the bird was still present but with a mid evening high tide things weren't looking promising. On arrival it was clear that it had indeed done one (hopefully moving on to the next leg of its Welsh tour) and despite a brief appearance and a spurious claim further west nothing else was seen of it that evening.

Fortunately the journey home was not the downer that I had warned Jo of as I was warmed by the cheerie news of Lady Thatchers continuing stay in Hospital - not long now you wizerned old cow.

16th June. Mid-summer surprise.

It would appear that I was a little rash writing off the spring. The appearance of the Royal Tern in North Wales almost tempted me in to taking a day off - but fortunately sense prevailed. The subsequent no show of the Tern left me feeling somewhat relieved and a text informing me of some local 'scarce' at an undisclosed location was an added bonus. Better still was a phonecall from Pete regarding a singing Golden Oriole in the Poolsbrook area mid afternoon. I didn't fancy my chances with the Oriole but surprisingly after just 20 minutes a familiar strangled cat (not that I am in the habit of strangling cats) sound came from some large willows. After a couple of minutes of screeching and the occasional flutey song it gave itself up albeit in flight, never to show again. All in all a pleasant evening in the company of a couple of local ticks though the wearing of shorts was not a good idea!!
After the swelling had gone down!

14th June. Moffs

Finally some decent weather for a bit of mothing. Unfortunately and for some unknown reason I wandered downstairs at 02:30 switched off the trap and placed it in the fridge (the spare fridge in the garage that is). What made this all the more surreal was the distant boom of some house/garage/shed music presumably emanating from Rother Valley, this shit was still going on at the break of day though apparently no one else in the neighbourhood had heard it. Anyway there were some moths but no surprises so in the after coming around after overindulging in some sangria I managed a few photos.

Peppered Moth

Ingrailed Clay

Scalloped Hazel

Bright line Brown-eye


5th June. The King of Pies

Returning from Potteric we called at Morrisons in order to get supplies for the weekend. Unfortunately the lure of the pie stall was strong. Fortunately Jo managed to drag me away in time but sadly only to drag me in the direction of a small refrigerated section called "Yorkshire Fayre" where an array of artery bursting goodies was on display including PIES. Drifting in to some kind of trance I came (steady!) upon a selection of Andrew Jones premier pies and selected an un-ticketed 454 gram (1lb) Ploughmans Pie. At £3.29 this was the most expensive pie I have ever bought - but it was worth every penny. Taking just a few minutes to demolish and without the necessary brown sauce that most Pork Pies require I crowned this the King of Pies! The light non greasy pastry and an array of flavours from the delicately cured pork to the sharp Wensleydale complimented by the tangy relish took this pie off the scale and the maximum 10 points does it no justice at all. Andrew Jones we salute you.

5th June. Love at First Site

For the last few years I have looked on in envy, at the impressive looking scrapes along the M18 between junctions 3 and 4. This of course is the infamous reserve that is Potteric Carr. Despite being less than thirty minutes away I have only visited the site on two occasions during my 27 years of birding and neither of these were proper visits. Jo, clearly confused with my apparent reluctance to visit such a good looking site, suggested that it would be good to have a look just to see what it's like.

So once Beth was at school we headed the short distance up the M18. First surprise was that this site is only 14 miles away and is in fact nearer and easier to get to than most sites on the west side of Sheffield. Disappointingly it doesn't open until 9am and there appears to be no other way of getting in and on arrival you feel as though you are attending some sort of corporate event as you enter through a rather vulgar looking modern office complex. Once through the visitor centre you walk out on to the reserve and it really does feel like a proper reserve where some areas even had the feel of the likes of Minsmere. We walked the whole reserve (c.9km) and wasn't disappointed with a single bit. This place has everything open water, reed beds, woodland and best of all some great new scrapes, that despite being new already not only pull in the birds but provide enough food to encourage them to stay as the three Avocets there testified.

The addition of a cafe halfway round is perfectly positioned to encourage you to fill up and thus stay that bit longer without the need for further sustinence. Sadly there were no pies on offer and the only savoury pastry items were a couple of overdone sausage rolls, we opted for a plate full of beans on toast for just two quid - proper birding food! Following this we had a look at the newly hatched Black-necked Grebes then set off to view the excellent scrapes. Unfortunately we were restricted by time and had to get back for Beth. However we had time to subscribe to the YWT before leaving and after falling in love with this site will return many many times.

4th June. Coast

A seaside trip to Filey was cut short due to the March like weather and not checking the tide tables before leaving. Fortunately a visit to Bempton saved the day. Some predictable photographs followed.

30th May. Too hot for birds

Well it seems as though the spring migration is well and truly over now and that the next six weeks or so will be spent passing the time watching insects and the like. The afternoon was spent wandering around Treeton Dyke in the vain hope that some late migrants might have found it to their liking. Predictably the only such migrant was a single Painted Lady. A few other insects were around and much easier to photograph than their avian friends.

Mother Shipton

Common Blue

Dingy Skipper

Red-eyed Damselfly

Banded Demoiselle

Hard to believe that the latter three species only started occuring in this area within the last 15 years.

28th May. Goat Sucker

With the Spring migration just about over getting around the local spots was becoming a chore. So with this in mind Jo and I decided on another trip to Hatfield this time for Nightjars. First stop on the way was a Black-necked Grebe site where we picked up at least two pairs and managed some very poor shots.

Having located a likely Nightjar spot using Google Maps finding the site was fairly straightforward if not a little hairy driving down the rough track. With the current warm conditions the area took on the the guise of a Mediterranean Salt Pan with low scrubby edges and sure enough as dusk fell at least three birds began calling one right in front of us which after a while stopped singing and gave us some nice close wing clapping display views.