26th April. Big Mouth Strikes Again!

I'm feeling pretty stupid - nothing new there then! Yesterday, during my first Orgreave visit of the day I made the incorrect assumption that UK Coal had heavy rolled a large part of the 'steppe' area. Rather than look into it in more detail I fired off an email accusing them of heinous crimes against wildlife. Rather surprisingly I had a response almost immediately. The managing director of Harworth Estates offered to meet me on site to discuss my concerns. To cut a long story short, they hadn't rolled it, I felt a right tit, apologised profoundly and now realise that they actually do care about the site and what happens on there. I still feel a tit and am finding this large slice of humble pie particularly difficult to digest! Still it feels good to get it off my chest.

In an attempt to stop me feeling sorry for myself here's some pics just how nice the Norfolk Citrine Wagtail was!

Beth just before she confessed that she really enjoys birding!

22nd April. NFN

If you’re reading this then I’ve successfully managed to contact the outside world. I’m currently in the home of modern day birding – North Norfolk. I say modern, but you can’t even get a decent mobile signal out here. Wi fi is apparently classed as witchcraft, the only Apple you’ll get has pips and smart phones are looked on suspiciously by the locals – apparently six digits on one hand makes them near impossible to use!
This was never planned as a birding trip – more of a long weekend in the rain. However the weather Gods have gone nuts and bathed us in glorious sunshine. So today after a bit of shopping – no Aldi or Netto here we have to go to proper shops – I suggested a walk down the East Bank of Cley Marsh. It turned out to be a walk down memory lane, where I regaled (bored to death more like) Jo and Beth with tales of birding days gone by. Cley looks a bit different these days, from those halcyon times of the 80’s and 90’s, but still has that charm and magical feel. A couple of Spoonbills were almost the highlight of the day, that is until I found a rusty old tin can on the beach and spent the next half-hour throwing stones at it. I swear it was that same tin can, that I threw pebbles at with the Fray’s some 24 years back, though maybe not.
Tomorrow we’ll battle through the army of scopac users at Titchwell and hope to get a glimpse out of the overcrowded posh hides.
If by any chance Rob and Richard are reading this. I spotted that Scouse window cleaner at Salthouse and told the tale of our bollocking, for not answering the phone in Nancy’s – the phone that the lazy twat was sat next to!!
Goodnight all.
Oh and does anyone know who claimed a wood sand on my patch yesterday? Most annoying!!

17th April. Carpet Baggers

It's not normal for me to do two posts in a day, but I thought that this deserved a special mention.

Those of you who witnessed the toe curling documentary 'Twitchers a very British obsession' will remember that apart from Lee's Charlie Sheen style rantings, the other main talking point was the state of Gary Bagnell's stair carpet. I can (almost) exclusively reveal that following months of ridicule the Bagnell's revealed their new wool twist this weekend!

I shit you not this really is the Bagnell's new carpet!!

17th April. Alone again or....

The title of today's post doesn't indicate a breakdown in my marital status, but the fact that for the first time this week I had the patch to myself. I've counted no less than fifteen individuals since last weekend - I say counted but it's more of a mental note. Two of them having the audacity to get down before me - bloody cheek. I suppose that I only have myself to blame, instead of keeping all my sightings to myself and my dog-eared notebook, I can't help but share my occasional good fortune with others. So I guess I'll just have to put up or indeed shut up!

A couple of very approachable Bar-tailed Godwits on the small lake this morning was a welcome addition to the patch list and brought the self-found Orgreave year list to 98. Not a lot else to write about though a record count of 8 Little Ringed Plovers and Wheatears seemingly everywhere, with 8 this evening and at last 15 yesterday morning.

And a couple from earlier in the week.

If Carlsberg did birding......

11th April. A Brief Dip

There are some bits of habitat that you just know look right for certain birds. Dead trees that look perfect for hunting shrikes, light towers for Little Owls and cow shit for rare wheatears. So everyday when I cross the river I scan the weir, below the footbridge that leads to Orgreave's lakes, and look through the discarded fridge freezers, hazardous waste and old pallets for Dippers. So perhaps it was no surprise that this morning, whilst walking towards bridge I heard the familiar song of a Dipper. Not a rare bird in Sheffield, but there was something about connecting with this one, singing away on one of Europes (formerly) most polluted rivers.

Sadly the camera was still set up for the previous days sunshine, consequently the photos are crap.

10th April. Back in Black

Keen to get down and score the first 'gropper' of the year I was at Orgreave just after 6:30. Unfortunately no 'groppers' in yet and worst still thick fog over both lakes. I tried to salvage something by doing the areas away from the water only to find that the fog was following me around, like something out of a dodgy Hammer Horror film. At least one Greenland type Wheatear was just about visible - to be honest though there could have been a dozen or so lurking in the murk. After an eye-straining hour or so the fog began to lift and I was able to at least scan the edges. A couple more peachy Wheatears on the path, a Dunlin and a couple of White Wagtails were the fruits of my labour. However almost the last scan of the largest lake produced a couple (presumably a pair) of Black-necked Grebes. Being the 4th and 5th Black-necks in the last 9 months, they are almost as common as Little Grebe here!

9th April. Excuses

Oh I appear to have been a little lax of late with no posts for the last two weeks. To be honest I've seen bugger all, apart from the predictable trickle of common migrants. The early starts have been taking it out on me and I just don't have the energy or the inclination to sit down and write meaningless bollocks each evening (though I seem to have found the strength today).

Excuses over, here are some photos of a couple of probable Greenland/Iceland Wheatears from this morning.