29th December. Last Of The Year

That's it, this afternoons visit was my final to the patch this year. It, like much of the 400 or so visits throughout the year was pretty uneventful and I failed to add any more species to the self-found year list. The list stalled at 131 back in November and despite much leg work I just couldn't get another. I'm not complaining though, I managed 11 more species than last year. A total of 141 species were recorded at Orgreave this year - which given the habitat isn't half bad.

Three records of Black-necked Grebe this year - all in cracking summer plumage. This bird was found on my first bus visit after ditching the car.

Even the detritus strewn River Rother produced some good birds.

Some new additions to the site list were a little underwhelming.

Despite the at times constant disturbance breeding birds did remarkably well, with success from Redshank, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, L R Plover, Tufted Duck (4 broods) and Common Tern - the latter species' presence and persistent patrolling against predators no doubt helped the other breeding birds.

A total of 24 species of wader were recorded throughout the year.

One of my personal favourites this year was this totally unexpected Arctic Tern flock on the 29th July.

A good year for Wheatears with 'flocks' in double figures and an unprecedented number of Greenland birds.

So it all starts again on Sunday - or in my case Monday. I'm feeling a little negative at the moment, I always do at this time of year, but the excitement of a new challenge is already starting to fuel my enthusiasm - maybe this year I'll find I'll get my first BB rarity on the patch.

19th December. 12 Days

With only twelve days of the year left, I can already feel the new year bells ringing in their anti-climax marking the end of one of the best years local birding that I've ever had. But a lot can happen in twelve days and it's perhaps a little too early to feel the chill of Old Father Time. One of the glaring omissions on the Sheffield area list is Lesser Scaup and with the Orgreave Pochard flock reaching almost 200 birds it's surely only a matter of time before it falls, and something that is well and truly at the top of my Christmas list.

Meanwhile I spent a good chunk of the weekend tracking down the Redpoll flock and with a little help from Jean C Roche and the magic of MP3 I managed to keep them in one spot long enough to find at least one Mealy among them, though there were probably at least two others. Something to keep me busy in the coming weeks.

The gull roost is still coming up with the goods with Martin scoring a putative 1st year Caspian or hybrid (see his blog for details) and at least two Yellow-legged Gulls and the green-ringed Med' Gull still roosting most evenings.

It seems a long time since some quality pies featured on the pages of this blog, so here in all it's naked pie porn glory is a quality Huntsman Pie purchased, from Cannon Hall Farm Shop in Barnsley, by a very kind colleague who understands my need for savoury pastry products.

Stuffing, Turkey and Pork - Pietastic

14th December. Good Evening

The lack of blogging lately has been down to one or two things; like most working birders the general lack of daylight at this time of year restricts us to weekends, occasional days off and er sick days. Managed to miss out on a fine herd of seven Bewick's Swans at the weekend due to me being a nesh lazy git! Hence the self-found list remains stagnant at 131.

There's also been an appalling lack of scandal of late, though having recently thrown myself off Facebook my source for gutter birding news has all but dried up. I did attend an interesting bird group meeting recently where the speaker was like a cross between Eric Hoskings and Bernard Manning - and that's where we'll leave it....

"......Tits like coconuts"