27th May. Least of My Worries

Forcing myself out of bed at 5am, probably for the penultimate time this month due to the depleting number of migrants, I reluctantly made my way to Orgreave. Despite the previous day producing one or too decent birds, namely Sanderling and Turnstone, this morning was more typical of late may/early June i.e. very little of note. Added to this my mind was elsewhere, being more concerned about the rather bad limp that one of the cats had developed over the last couple of days and the subsequent damage that it would do to my bank account. If any one ever tells you not to bother with pet insurance ignore them as they are clearly insane - more on that

Early evening and news of a Least Sandpiper at Old Moor - now I know why the old boys used to call it Wath Mecca- coincided conveniently with dropping Beth at Guides, as had the Stone Curlew a few weeks previously. The hide was full on arrival but fortunately this smallest of the Calidris showed very well in front of the hide, amply making up for missing out on the previous two Yorkshire birds.

Without doubt the worst photo you will ever see of a Least Sand (or any other bird for that matter) don't go searching the Internet you won't find one any worse!

Seeing the Least Sandpiper at Wath brought back memories of the unfortunate incident of the only Sheffield record. It was at Middleton Moor back in 1988 - for whatever reason it was suppressed (frankly I don't really care) but it was as a result of this that one Wath regular penned an hilarious limerick about an infamous birder from the North Midlands - can't say too much there's probably the 1980's equivalent of a super injunction on that one! If anyone has that logbook I would dearly love to read it again - the cartoon of another birders wellies hanging out of the aforementioned's arse was almost as funny.

Back to the cat. It appears he's been shot and it's going to cost the best part of half a pair of Leica's to get him right - yet again the Devil vomits in my kettle, though some might say I deserve it!

Well I suppose the local nestling's will be safe!!

I've been neglecting the pie stuff lately, though my belly tells a different story, so thanks to Dave Mack here's something from local ukulele band The Everly Pregnant Brothers.

25th May. Thirty Year Gap

Settling down for an evening with my new edition Crossbill guide to Extremadura I was rudely distracted by a phone call from Andy. A thought occurred to me, during the split second that passed before I answered it, that this was it some fly by night had called in to the patch on my day off and scored the big one! I had commented to Jo the previous evening that they would be a Red-necked Phalarope at Orgreave tomorrow i.e. today, which was actually yesterday as I am writing this today! Anyhow I digress - which is posh talk for talking bollocks! Andy had kindly called to say that there was indeed a Red-necked Phalarope - but that it was at Middleton Moor about as far away in the 'Sheffield area' as it possibly could be! Anyway an hours drive later (yes it really is that far away) I was watching a cracking female Red-necked Phal' amazingly the first record in 'Sheffield' for thirty years, the previous bird being at the very same site!

Quite possibly the worst photo you'll ever see of such a stunning bird

It's always struck me that the 'Sheffield Area' is a bit of an oddity (at least when it comes to recording areas)with some very strange boundaries. It comprises 10 12km squares, 6 of which are in Derbyshire, 1.5 in Rotherham, a couple of bits in Barnsley and Doncaster with the remainder within the city boundaries of Sheffield! Odd I know, when you look at it, it looks as though a couple of blokes pulled out a map stuck drawing pins in their favourite sites then pulled an elastic band around them, thus creating the Sheffield area. The beauty of this method is that now and again when you need to you can pull the rubber band out just a bit further!

19th May. Sticking It To Them

Forum dwelling stick spotters were left reeling last night when it was revealed that the Bolton Abbey stick was still present. Indisputable photographs were posted by Britain's leading stick lister Steve Spider, currently exiled in Yorkshire following a smear campaign. Leading forum contributors were dumbstruck having spent the last week 'rubbishing' claims that the stick had been photographed in the UK, with many of them branding it a hoax.

The Stick yesterday

President of the British Stick Association Evan Lees said, "I never doubted this record for one minute. I've known the finder personally for over 30 years and have always found him 100% trustworthy."

Spokesman for the RSPB (Royal Stick Protection Body) Thomas Mark said, "This is the most important stick discovery this year and the stick will be given a round the clock guard against stick thieves." He went on to say that, "Stick collecting is still rife through the British Isles, but we should also be on our guard for people who may just innocently snap off the stick for the dog or worse still for scraping shit off their shoes."

Stick Twitchers were expected to arrive on mass over the weekend, with some predicted to be on site at dawn today. Top Western Palearctic lister Ricardo Bonsai has already filled a charter to Leeds-Bradford, with further charters expected to arrive throughout the day. Sticky wannabe Garry Bag-em-all commented, "You just can't compete with these cheque book stickys. It's not fair. Last week I spent £5,002 and 63 pence twitching a stick on the Heb's. Turned out when we got there it had been re identified as a garden cane - a common captive kept stick!"

Right image shows the stick a couple of weeks ago (complete with a singing Chaffinch) aside yesterdays clearer shot.

Sheffield based research group Laboratory Garner were today expected to take samples from the stick. Head researcher Martin said, "Sampling of the twig is vital in order to prove it's provenance, there has been some debate that it shows features of the boreal race known as Northern Stick."

13th May. Bad Press

A nice flock of Ringed Plover and Dunlin building up on the patch at the moment with at least 12 and 7 respectively - which by local standards does constitute a flock. Fingers crossed they keep building and pull in something scarce.

Just to prove that the dog walker problem isn't a uniquely British problem have a look at the shocking pictures on Dutch birder Arnold Meijer's blog HERE.

Anyone who knows me well will know that I'm not one for reading Thatcherite rags or their cyberspace equivalent. So it really goes against the grain to post a link to this story on the Torygraph site. Sadly it seems a fairly accurate story, particularly as you don't have to look too far (on Surfbirds) to see examples of this. Seemingly 'tape' luring has increased massively, presumably as a result of almost every birder toting a camera these days perhaps it's time we (me included) took a long hard look at ourselves and put the birds first.

Just to offset my promotion of the aforementioned Tory rag it would seem appropriate to post a link to my current favourite website HERE I just can't hit the refresh button fast enough!

11th May. Canine Bad Temper

Couldn't help but get that feeling this morning that it's all over at least! That's the spring migration (at least from a local aspect) not life in general. With the wind switching to the west over the last few days things have quietened down - which is obviously why I'm sat typing this and not out in search of local scarce.

The constant battle with irritable dog walkers strolling around the waters edge (some of whom have been birders!) came to a head on Monday evening when one walker stood and watched her two collies attack a Mute Swan. Taking heed of the advice given to me in a recent anonymous comment I had a word with the dog walker concerned and they immediately put the to mutts on their leads. Actually it was a few words screamed from the opposite side of the lake, they seemed to get my drift!
The following mornings visit revealed that the dogs appeared to have trashed the nest leaving the single egg in the water. I doubt very much that even if they had left it alone the nest would have survived, no doubt someone else's dog would have trashed it sooner or later. It's not the dogs fault it is of course the irresponsible owners or perhaps it's the stupid swans fault for nesting there in the first place!

Anyway got to go it's all kicking off about some Rock Bunting in North Yorkshire. No doubt the web forums will be awash with the usual bollocks and unfounded speculation within the hour.

1st - 8th May. Catch Up

The first week of May has been a bit tiring with five AM starts every morning, a couple of hours in the evening and nine hours work in between has left little energy for blogging in the evenings. So in a complete lazy arse way here's a (crap) photo montage of the last weeks highlights at Orgreave:
Photo by Richard Hill

30th April.

Jo and I spent the day in North Lincs chasing rare. Managed the White-tailed Eagle, Dotterel and Collared Pratincole but not without having to make repeat trips for the eagle and the pratincole at Jo's request as I'd had enough and wanted to go home.

30th April. Fresh in From North Africa

Perhaps this followed the hirundines and newly arrived Swifts north! Wherever it came from it's going o the list.

29th April. Nice Day For a White Wedding

Thanks to the happy couple I managed a ridiculous three visits to Orgreave today. All fairly dull with the only highlight being the first Whimbrel of the year.

Seemed a fair few were avoiding 'the wedding of the century' by walking their dogs around the waters edge of the large lake. One individual, obviously so concerned about which major fashion house had designed Kate's dress, was completely oblivious to me photographing a Little Ringed Plover - either that or he was just pig bloody ignorant. Ironically his dog stuck to the path!

Another 10 yards and he managed to flush a further three LRP's.