23rd May. Mad Dogs and English Scum

A weekend of balmy weather and I was predicting that the big one was just around the corner. Not surprisingly I was wrong, though there was a fair spattering of scarce. The hot weather did nothing for my enthusiasm and after a fruitless early morning wander around Orgreave, for just a Curlew, I decided to retire to the garden.

Sunday started warm and got even warmer, but unless you were trapped in the fridge you probably already knew that! One or two decent birds started to turn up - the best of which was a Broad-billed Sandpiper at Old Moor. By early evening and despite the life draining heat, I was itching to get out. Old Moor seemed the obvious choice, but I really didn't fancy being packed sardine style in a hot hide particularly as personal hygiene is not the highest priority on many birders minds. With that in mind I foolishly opted for another visit to Orgreave. Where I was greeted by this:

I'm sure that when Noel Coward wrote Mad Dogs and English Men he didn't picture pot bellied Chav's, swigging extra strong cider, whilst basking in the heat of the day with the obligatory (mad) Bull Terrier by their side.
Whilst you must forgive their ignorance, it is difficult to believe that even if you pointed out the disturbance they were creating to the breeding birds, that it would actually make a difference.
I did however manage a smile at their expense courtesy of this sign:

Fingers crossed!

Thins were no better at nearby RV with lawns apparently being turned in to some kind of landfill site:

18th May. A Tale of Two Birders

The warmest evening of the year so far had me eager to get out. With a couple of Dotterel and the chance of a male Montagu's Harrier on the moors a change of location was on the cards.
Arriving at the picturesque location of Abney Moor we set out along the path in hope of finding the two Dotterel. The peace and tranquility of this site was just what I needed. Sadly it was soon shattered by a couple of arriving birders who could be heard approaching some five hundred metres away. One of which I managed to identify on call as the 'Mouth From The South'. The 'Mouth' soon caught up with us enquiring loudly if we knew where we were supposed to be looking! He and his sidekick soon overtook us constantly shouting to each other and now stomping around off path. We settled at the side of the path and scanned the surrounding area. Amusing myself with the 'Mouth's' complete lack of field craft we figured that sooner or later he would put them up.

At this point we were joined by another birder who I assumed had arrived with the 'Mouth'. However unlike the aforementioned and his mate he was well behaved, pleasant and quiet, a complete contrast in fact! Thankfully it transpired that he had arrived under his own steam - literally!

Chatting to this birder - who we will now call Gary (because that's his name) - I was fascinated to learn that for the last five months he had been embarking on the mammoth task of visiting every RSPB reserve and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust site within the UK, whilst carrying out a year list challenge. What's that? Another sad LGRE style listing freak I hear you say? Well no, Gary is attempting this solely on his bike sleeping where ever he can, be it in his tent, reserve hide or the luxury of a friends spare bed. Gary isn't a super fit cyclist clad in shiny lycra, he honestly looks like a birder who's just nipped out for a spot of birding on his bike. This evening he'd cycled from Carsington and stopped off for the Dotterel en-route to the RSPB Saddleworth, I don't know how far that is but I do know that there's a hell of a lot of hills. Despite those hills he still walked around as though like me he'd just got out of the car. I liked Gary he was one of the nicest people that I've come across in a long time and added to this his determination to complete this challenge was amazing - he certainly didn't have those mad staring eyes that I've seen in the average year lister

Please take the time to look at Gary's Blog HERE and HERE and consider sponsoring him in his epic challenge I certainly will be.

Back at the Dotterel Gary, Jo and myself were watching the 'mouth' and his mate scouring the moorland with tact of a sex hungry bull elephant - when suddenly he screamed out that he'd got one of the birds. We wandered up the hill to find nothing except a Wheatear (hmm I wonder). The 'mouth' and his mate continued to engage each other in loud conversation when suddenly his mate shouted out that the birds were in flight - now there's a surprise! This presumed pair continued to gain height until they were just dots in the distance. They clearly had never experienced anything as loud as this before and had decided that they'd had enough.

We left Gary to pitch his tent and headed for the Monty's. A few birders were gathered there and it soon became apparent that it was a no show. After a few minutes we paid a visit to the nearby Strines Inn for two overpriced pints and a couple of gourmet bags of crisps ( I assume they must have been gourmet given that it came to £7.50!). We finished a great evening off with a couple of juv Long-eared Owls and several roding Woodcock.

TWO JUV LONG-EARED OWLS SHOWING WELL IN ALMOST TOTAL DARKNESS AT 6400 ISO (Apparently posting your photos with bold block type is the way forward!!)

17th May. Uncle of the son of Timperley comes to Sheffield

Regular readers of this blog (or Mum and Dad as I like to call them) will be familiar with the comments of Frank Sidebottoms Uncle. Whilst everyone is familiar with the papermache king of light entertainment very little is known about his uncle - in fact we don't even know his name! Following a rare recent press article featuring the very reclusive uncle it was revealed that not only is he the Timperley legends uncle he is in fact somewhat of a local birding stalwart. Sadly the article will not reproduce very well but some facts gleaned from this historic interview appear below.


Suppressing Bastard!

16th May. Chiff Chiff Chiff Chaff....

I woke up with that can't be bothered feeling this morning and for the best part of it I really couldn't. Even a call from Roy about a 'blue-headed type' Wagtail on Orgreave couldn't give me the kick up the arse that I needed. By mid-afternoon I needed to get out birding though, as the sun was now shining, the usual favoured spots would now be swamped with the usual feral scum freshly emerged from their stinking pits! I fancied another spot of twitching and the choices were the Ilkeston Great Reed Warbler or the Potteric Iberian Chiffchaff, neither stunning to look at but both equally vocally interesting. I opted for the latter.

Exciting isn't it?

You can see the yellow supercilium in the top one and the remnants of the yellow washed upper breast above. Quite why it should be in such dreadful plumage in mid-May is beyond me.
The song was far more interesting but you'll just have to take my word for it. But lets face it, if these things didn't sing none of us would have a bloody clue.

15th May. A dull day saved by the Orient

With the RV Red-rumped Swallow still present it seemed a good idea to get in there early doors, particularly as it had regularly been performing on the railings in front of the Watersports most mornings. Of course this morning not only did it not perform on there it did a complete no show. After a couple of hours I decided to cut my losses and head for Treeton/Orgreave. The sky's by now were almost cloudless and it was clear that there would be very little passage so I thought I'd salvage the morning photographing stuff. A Garden Warbler, at Treeton, performed well but the other warblers were keeping well hidden. Orgreave was dull, brightened briefly by a record count of seven Oystercatchers woo hoo!

Seeing as Jo had been working I promised to take her to a food fair at Clumber Park unfortunately it was a bit crap (to say the least) though I managed to purchase a quality pie. Seeing as we were some of the way there I suggested that we might go to Frampton for the Oriental Pratincole. Despite having previously seen two others (Elmley 1988 and Gimmingham 1993) at just seventy miles away this one was just too tempting and my first chance to photograph one - albeit badly!

Frampton Marsh is a quality reserve, much nicer than any of those further along The Wash such as Titchwell. With shit loads of Yellow Wagtail and Corn Buntings like there were in the old days.

A top quality Steak and Kidney pie though at three quid it needed to be. By far the nicest "shop bought" pastry that has passed my lips and lets face it there's been a few!

12th May. "road to Grimsby"

The last week, since returning from Scotland, has been pretty dire. In between trying to ignore seemingly constant election coverage I seemed to spend the rest of my time either looking at other peoples birds, cutting grass or doing other necessary chores. As soon as I'd parked the caravan I nipped off to RV to see Kev's very splendid Red-rumped Swallow. As it had been seen earlier in the day it seemed fairly straight forward - of course this was not to be and in fact it took me a further two attempts before I finally connected. Shortly before finally clinching the Swallow a call from Roy informed me that an Avocet had been reported at Orgreave - there's not much you could mistake that for so reluctantly I dragged myself down there to patch tick someone else's find!
This of course is Kev's photo. I hope he doesn't mind me using it

Several further visits to Orgreave over the last few days have produced nothing. I was hoping that yesterday's fresh Northeaster coupled with rain would surely bring a few choice morsels. Sadly the rain increased the cold got colder and the birds just weren't doing their thing - whatever that might have been. In fact I got wetter and colder than I had been all year and in the end, after running out of graphic swear words I decided to go home. Further news items had me reaching for the Viz Profanisaurus (which is where this post title originates) to refill my 'swear bank' though with a report of a Little Gull on Orgreave this morning shortly after my hurried visit it is now well and truly running on empty - "Sausage Wallet"!

1-5th May. Scotch Pies and Birds

Twenty three years have passed since my first jaunt to the Scottish Highlands and repeat trips have never been as productive or as enjoyable until now. In addition to the usual sites and thanks to several birders I also had sites for Parrot Crossbill, Scottish Crossbill and an alternative Capercaille Site. We had several flyover parties of Crossbill Sp with birds flying over at the Parrot site and at the Scottbill site but nothing that I would dare put a name to!

The mountains were still covered in snow, up to several feet thick in some places, so we were a bit restricted in our search for Ptarmigan - none the less were persevered (which proved to be the theme of the trip) and found a nice partial winter male at the highest point of our steep ascent.
Apparently Ptarmigan are having a hard time this year and we heard stories of how corpses were being revealed by the slow thawing snow. Some of the forest birds have had a real hammering from the three month freezing spell, we didn't see or hear a single Wren during our five day stay, Coal Tits weren't as numerous we did however manage three Crested Tits though only at one site - the track to Loch Mallachie.

All the other specialities were fairly easy - even Jo found a male Caper whilst I was listening to the gripping voicemail informing me of a Red-rumped Swallow at Rother Valley. Jo also found the only Red-throated Divers of the trip.


Lots of these

and one of these thanks to Speyside Wildlife


This bizarre hybrid (watercrust /puff pastry) was bloody terrible and almost devoid of filling

The pies in the Glenmore Cafe were far more palatable