26th September. Hard Going Trails

Well it was a walk I hadn't done since I was 17 and hopefully it'll be 23 years before have to do it again. The photos do it no justice and I won't pretend that I can tell Willow from Alder because like everyone else I can't. All the same it will sit on the list as Trails Flycatcher, as would Soft-plumage Petrel if I ever see one other than off a boat!

Great bird, great twitch with no more than 5o present at any one time - suggesting that either everyone else (who's bothered about this kind of thing) either saw the Cornish bird or are just too unfit.
Further down the road at Kelling another first Red-necked and Grey Phalarope together.

Little and Large

23rd September. Raising the Bar


It's getting very close to that time of year when the Llama and myself head north for a feast of lasagne pies and smart price whisky, no doubt resulting in a few libellous blog posts. The next few days will be spent optimistically viewing the weather charts and pretending that we know what we're talking about. We might even see some birds!
Proper bird stringing finding liqour

There's a lot of exciting babble flying around the ether at the moment, most from the very excitable Andy L. He's even talking about a sweepstake, for the best 'rare', of £10 per entrant. £10 from a Yorkshire man - you're having a laugh! To save all the trouble Andy, you or any one else wanting to waste a £10 pie voucher, pop your money in an envelope and post it to Punkbirder's, Norfolk, England.

Punkbirders? I'm sure you all remember them:

They were new, fresh and anarchic. They travelled the world in search of 'rare'. Writing useful articles about vagrancy and with PHD's by the sack load they became an editors nightmare, just adding their qualifications in the credits would regularly run into the following months Birding World.
Gradually they grew older and even wiser and started to move their separate ways decimating the once rich gene pool of Norfolk. One to the darkest reaches of Amazonia, one to BOU's 'gentleman's club' with comfy chair with free pipe and slippers and most startling of all one to Doncaster! Others travel the length and breadth of our glorious land counting Coots and fondling Puffins, while rumour has it that one has regular paid work!
Sacking off the Northern Isles for previously uncharted territory - that turned out to be shit they went their separate ways leaving just a handful of members to dream about the halcyon days in the lighthouse. Days when they would pillage the Northern Isles of 'rare' (like their viking predecessors) 'skoring' in every ditch that they came across.

Just like those Daleks from Dr Who they've regrouped pulling in new recruits from Ireland (Tim O'tay) and Guernsey Dave. Presumably both wanting to increase their Irish and British and Channel Islands and British lists respectively. Well I don't know what dark arts those two wizard like Punks have taught our colonial cousins but it's bloody working. No sooner had Tim ticked his first (British) Willow Warbler he quickly progressed up the ladder to finding a super River Warbler knocking off Barred and Yellow-browed on the way! Not to be outdone Dave was on his way back to the lighthouse, for a brew, when the sudden case of tick induced shits came upon him - forcing him into the cover of the Sumburgh Quarry, where on dropping his pants discovered something brown! Britain and Ireland's 5th Brown Flycatcher!

I once saw a Goldcrest in here

Congratulations chaps there may only be four of you but you've raised the bar considerably, I'm sure LGRE will be sending you the appropriate certificate very soon. Now if you'd all move along and leave us something for next weekend we'd be very appreciative!

Rick looking shocked at the amount of 'rare'

19th September. Four Star Petrel

Waking to drizzle and what I could only describe as less than ideal conditions it was more than a little tempting to get back in to bed. Despite this I got up and by 7:20 was on my way to Orgreave. As I dragged myself to the shore I was musing yesterdays Fea's and thinking how it had put a bit of a dampener on my weekend. The rain wasn't helping much, but suddenly out of the corner of my eye I noticed a group of gulls harassing a smaller bird. Presuming it would be the Black Tern that was wandering all over the valley I picked my bins up. It was black...BLACK my brain screamed...SHIT LEACH'S PETREL!! Almost immediately it disappeared out of view around the point. I ran, faster than I had run in a long time probably even faster! By the time I'd reached the viewing pole my run had descended in to a near crawl and I was shaking like a shitting whippet! Fortunately the gulls were still pursuing it and I managed to scope it before it dropped down near the waters edge. Cursing myself for leaving the SLR at home I fished around for the trusty Samsung and grabbed a few seconds of very shakey video footage before the gulls set about it again.
Settling again I hurriedly made a few phone calls including one to Jo suggesting that if she wanted to see Leach's Petrel she should get up and to bring my camera! A Carrion Crow had made a few passes at it, at one point almost grabbing it. The Petrel seemed to have had enough and started to gain height. I watched it flying almost swift like over Treeton village, as it began to drop towards Catcliffe I was thinking it would drop on the flash, out of nowhere it was whacked by a Sparrowhawk. A sad end for a smart bird.

18th September. Gripped

Text messaging is great most of the time, but receiving gripping news this evening from Andy and Roy that they'd just had the Fea's Petrel off Kilnsea isn't! Many of you will know Roy and some of you will be aware that he's a right lucky get! Several megas spring to mind that Roy has seen that in football terms would be described as injury time, that is he didn't go straight away but jammed in on it on it's last day. So as I knew Roy and Andy were off to Spurn this weekend in less than ideal conditions it perhaps should have come as no surprise that the lucky bastard would score big time!
As I understand it Roy picked up the bird as it headed towards Kilnsea and then again as it headed north past Easington - top marks Roy you jammy bastard!

Conversely poor old Pete, who despite living almost next door, doesn't appear to have had Roy's luck rub off on him. Following the death of his car on the way to the Oriental Pratincole his fortune doesn't seem to be improving. Pete recently retired (or at least appears to have) from Sheffield birding to become one of the Spurn drunken animals regulars. Despite religiously spending almost every weekend at the Obs he chose, for reasons best known to him, to go to Bulgaria for two weeks in September starting yesterday!

17th September. Mauled

I seem to have become the latest target of those feline anarchists the Reservoir Cats, with a pie/pasty related spoof. However such is the depth of their humour (or my skin being as thick as a rhino) it took a day and a comment from the highly mobile Tom Logan before I realised it! Of course I'm flattered and being a firm believer that you shouldn't give it out if you can't take it I applaud them 100%. Keep up the good work and one day you might reach the humour level of The Llamas or the bard Mckinney.

Chemical or two bricks it doesn't matter

If all else fails!

Back on the 'patch' a juv Black Tern was a pleasant surprise, particularly given the fact that it's shit for Terns having only had two Common all year. To prove how bad it is it spent just ten minutes there before spending the rest of the day at nearby Treeton.

15th September. News in Brief

Getting late for waders

Squeezed a self-found patch year tick (114) in yesterday when two Whimbrel flew through early morning.
A blustery visit this morning produced a few Sand Martins and a 1st sum (or should it be 2nd winter) Yellow-legged Gull.

The Biking Birder

Had a surprise phonecall from the Biking Birder last night who is currently on Shetland. Gary's determination is inspiring and it was good to hear that my friends on Shetland were showing him their usual great hospitality. If you haven't donated yet then shame on you - visit HERE to redeem yourself.
I would like to think that Gary's Shetland stint is being fuelled by a diet of lasagne pies.

Squacco Takes Cover

I couldn't help but smile about the appearance of the Squacco Heron at Kilnsea today. Apparently, at times, it was seen underneath a plastic patio chair, no doubt taking cover from all the shit flying around regarding the Roller at Easington.

'British' Twitchers in political faux pas

Political relations between Britain and Ireland are in turmoil after a recent invasion by birders travelling to see the ship assisted House Crow. Not content with boasting about the size of their 'British' lists, the contents of which include such Irish 'rares' as Blue-winged Warbler, Canada Warbler and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, one such 'twitcher' took to advertising that the Crow was in fact his 500th British bird (IQ40 rules applied). Evidence of this political faux pas below in this exclusive picture featuring the two leading members of the 'elite' club centre and left of shot. Aside from the T-shirt blunder can any sharp-eyed readers spot the other bizarre occurrence in this photo? Answer at the bottom of the page.

No it's not LGRE's back to front binoculars. It's the fact that birding god Chris Heard agreed to appear in the same shot!

13th September.. A Country Outing

Some years ago, whilst sat in a hide at Denaby Ings I was being regaled with stories about the kind of antics that go on in the hides there. Trev 'sin em' Feltham described how the site was regularly used by gay men as a meeting point and how on one occasion he had to forceably remove two 'gentlemen' during a daylight session!

A search of the web in the name of research reveals that not only is this site still actively promoted amongst the gay cruising community but a number of other local birding sites are!

However modern society is more tolerant these days of such goings on and as a result this activity no longer provides these risk seekers desire. Photographic proof, received this morning, appears to suggest that they have taken their thrill seeking to another level by attempting to lure unsuspecting birders into the bushes!

It would be the last time that Stu posted a 'lift offered' message on the pager!

13th September.. Last few days

Not much to report over the last few days. A Whinchat on Wednesday was as good as it got for migrant passerines with large parties of Meadow Pipit and a Yellow Wagtal through. A small party of waders hurtling through Orgreave on Friday morning comprised of 3 Dunlin and a couple of Little Stints which seemingly kept going south. However walking around the smaller lake an hour or so later revealed that they had in fact dropped in out of view. Unfortunately a lapse in concentration saw me kick them up totally oblivious to their presence.

With the obvious shortening daylight hours, this week may see the last of my pre-work sorties until March!!

10th September. Book Burning

A leading member of the right wing birding terror group OBL (One British List) today criticised Christian fruit cake Terry Jones (always my favourite Python) describing his 'book burning' plans as old hat and behind the times (which essentially means the same).
The OBL was formed, by old school BOU members, in the mid 1990's during a time when control of the British List was slipping into the hands of the president of the IQ40 club. Until today the OBL's activities have been a closely guarded secret but recently a photograph depicting an OBL terror attack has come to light.

An anonymous OBL spokesperson said:

"We'd been watching this bloke for a while and knew all his movements, particularly his dance moves. We knew he'd got this book coming out and reckoned that he'd been to the publishers to pick it up. You could tell the boot was full as the exhaust was almost on the ground. Getting the car was the easy part, the daft bastard had left the keys in. My mate just nipped out and had it away. We planned to stack the books under the car and set fire to them as a kind of warning not to f**k with the British List, but there was a problem! When we opened the boot it was full of shit - not literally shit - but the kind of shit people sell at car boot sales. There was also a knackered pair of Leicas that only one half worked on and a special scope that looked like a kaleidoscope of birds when you looked through it! We were fu*k*d no sacrificial books to burn. However we were in luck the local oxfam shop had a shit load of Margaret Thatcher's memoirs at two pence each so we bought a job lot, stacked up the Vectra and burnt the bastard, figuring that that would put the brakes on el presidente at least until the autumn"

The OBL refused to answer allegations relating to the near tragic Charter Plane crash for the Thick-billed Warbler, the sudden, unexplained break down of a small charter boat during the Long-tailed Shrike twitch and, more recently, the suspicious last minute cancellation of this years Scillonian Pelagic.

7th September. Who Are Ya?

Went to bed last night more than a little excited about the evenings weather, almost gale force south-easterlies and torrential rain - surely the right recipe for some east coast rare and maybe some local scarce.

The advantage of doing jury service is that I can have an extra hour birding in the morning. The disadvantage is that I'm shafted if a lifer turns up.
Orgreave was very disappointing with nothing of interest and very little of no interest! I persevered and checked the bushes along the Rother. Plenty of activity but only Long-tailed Tits a good handful of Chiffs and a Blackcap., clearly no fall here!

After a rather trying day in court, where I had the privilege of being the jury foreman and handing out a guilty verdict, I needed a couple of hours birding. I would have preferred somewhere other than Orgreave, but had to make do. Plenty of gulls to look through with nice adut Yellow-legged among them. Best of all, though 'best' is stretching it a bit, was a nice party of five Greenshank - the largest gathering that I've ever seen locally!

According to the counter at the bottom of this page this is the 165th most popular birding website on the fat birder list. It's nice to know that people read this but it's beyond me why it outranks such quality blogs such as Martin's Birding Frontiers which should really be in the top 100. I don't know who most of you are but thanks and Dad keep hitting that refresh button!

5th September. Brownie Points

The plan for Sunday was, like the previous day, in tatters. We had planned to head to Spurn early, but a call to Pete the previous evening suggested that there had been a bit of a clear out so it was back to the same old with a 6am visit to Orgreave. Yesterday's Black-necked Grebe had gone and the only birds of note were a couple of Shelduck and a Yellow-legged Gull. By 8am it was obvious that there was no movement so I went home and mooched around the house. By 10am I was bored and decided on going to Spurn after all.

As forecast Spurn was very quiet and within an hour of arriving we were firmly rooted in the Blue Bell Cafe with Coffee and Beans on Toast - a few hot pies wouldn't have gone amiss though. Dragging ourselves away from the Cafe we headed down Beacon Lane where at least a couple of migrants were found namely Spotted Fly' and a Redstart. Things improved later with a couple of Whinchat, Pied Fly', Garden Warbler and a few more Redstarts. Refreshments in the Crown and Anchor and newly arrived Wood Warbler raised enthusiasm. Whilst strolling back to the cafe, for another caffeine hit, news of a Brown Flycatcer at Buckton came through. Opting for the coffee I sat musing the Flycatcher. There were a couple of factors that suggested we should go: It was only forty miles away and the occurrence of the Flamborough bird coincided with a particularly low point in my life and given that my mind was elsewhere at that time seeing another wouldn't be such a bad thing, besides with just four records it would have been damn rude not to.

Fortunately it was showing very well when we arrived but soon became very elusive occasionally metamorphosing into a Pied Fly' or worse still a Garden Warbler!

4th September. The Early Bird.......

Unable to get to Flamborough for the Olivaceous Warbler during the week I decided to head to Orgeave first thing Saturday morning then head to up to the east coast on positive news. Predictably the warbler had gone overnight. Rather less predictable was Roy beating me to Orgreave. Feeling slightly less enthusiastic I headed towards the pole. Roy had already found three Yellow-legged Gulls and beaten my previous days count of four hundred Lesser Black-backed Gulls with a count of six hundred. Feeling a bit miffed I scanned through the rolling mist and picked up a a Black-necked Grebe! Happier I headed home for a spot of bra shopping!!

2nd September. I Don't Care What The Weather Man Says.....

There seems a lot of speculation of late that it's going to be a mega year for New World rares. The drunkbirder is going all Wincy Willis whilst the Punks have gone all proper Met Office with charts and shit. I prefer to go down the common sense route and to misquote the great Michael Fish "Earlier on today some birder rang the BBRC and said they had heard that there was a hurricane of rare on the way " "Well if your watching don't worry there isn't."

Nothing to see here

The last few days

Whilst those greedy bastards in the East Midlands basked in a rush of scarce and rare over the bank holiday weekend and the Spurn boys scratched their heads over a mystery Ficedula, I continued as normal scouring the banks of Orgreave. As a reward I secured two self found year ticks, namely, Turnstone and Sedge Warbler - that's about as exciting as it gets! At least the latter skulked and gave tantalising brief views as it flitted around in the long grass very briefly raising hope that it could have been something a little better. Surprisingly, given how shit it really is, they were my 111th and 112th self found birds at Orgreave this year - whoo hoo!!

And finally

There is of course, as usual, justification for my bitter cynicism regarding the imminent weather systems. For the next two weeks I have been ordered to attend Sheffield Crown Court for my second go at jury service. So think of me whilst, during the middle of next week, you're tripping over a sea of Sapsuckers or staring at a tree full of Tanagers. I will be stuck in a sweaty court room whilst little Jimmy "who never done no one no wrong" is up in front of the beak for kicking the shit out of some poor old pensioner. No doubt being punished with a slap on the wrist and an all inclusive to Disneyland.