26th April. Gutted

It was all going so well. Monday I had a Greenshank (first of the year), Tuesday I jammed in on a couple of Avocets on the small lake and Wednesday I had a Sanderling another Greenshank, a couple of Dunlin and a Whimbrel and a Common Tern. All reasonable stuff with the promise of something bigger to come.
The worst Avocet picture ever, taken with Samsung phone through my bins as the DSLR's battery was flat again! 
With persistent overnight rain I headed out for the early bus and was on site for 6:30. Almost two hours later I had absolutely nothing to show for my efforts - apart from a few Swifts and a couple of Dunlin.  As I got on the bus to work it started to rain, not just any old rain either - clag.  I knew in my heart that anyone else going down in these conditions would have a good chance of something good. Sure enough the text that I was dreading came through just after 10am!!

I'm not bitter, but it's really not cricket that these retired types lounge around in bed half the day, then once you're safely tucked behind your desk they sneak onto your patch and bag the goods. Bloody pensioners!!

22nd April. Mr Angry

As I get older I've noticed that I'm getting more and more intolerant to everything. Things that used to slightly annoy me now proper piss me off. Where once I would stop to let a cyclist steam through a red light, I now stand in the middle of it and obstruct the ignorant bastards! The youth on the bus with his annoying trance dance shite bleeding through his earphones gets a disapproving look. Yes I've become a proper grumpy middle-aged man and sooner or later someone is going to give me a punch on the nose.

So today having had a lie in until 7am I opted to go to the patch around mid-morning.  Once again the lack of migrants was obvious - in fact the general lack of anything was obvious, anything that is except for the fourteen birders walking around the site. I appear to have created a monster!  In truth I don't actually have a problem with other birders visiting this site, the fact that I continuously put out reports from the site is testament to this. However, I do have a problem with birders who have a complete lack of regard for the resident breeding birds here.  One particular member, of a visiting group from York, this morning completely ignored my, initially polite, request to keep away from the edge of the lake, though credit to the other three who did move away.  After an exchange of words with this particular individual (who I have a nice full frame photo of) and his continued insistence to stay off the path, I lost it and told him to f**k himself.

Some suppression never goes away
The dog walkers I can tolerate but birders should know better and one local (with a very high profile) who I've seen poking his lens up the arse of the local LRP's, needs reminding that they are schedule one and that next time he might appear on the pages of this blog!

Given this experience I totally understand why some people see fit to suppress the good stuff that they find - though don't understand those that do it purely for spite -  I won't be doing that just yet!

Anyway I need to lay down in a dark room now.

21st April. Godwits On Parade

Regular followers to this blog (such as the criminally insane and my Dad) will have spotted the removal of some of my last posts content. Plainly and simply I bobbed my pants and realised that even no-mark scumbags have Internet access and might even be capable of stringing a couple of words together in Google - such as my name!  The current situation is that the Police are dealing with it and will hopefully make a few arrests in the coming weeks.

Anyway back to the birding.  This has got to be one of the slowest Springs in a long time, with the flow of migrants being more akin to a dripping tap than a full on flow. Willow Warblers are only just becoming obvious and Sand Martins have either suffered crossing the Sahara or their just hanging back - though Swallows seem to be plentiful!

Some decent birding weather occurred on Thursday with a nice easterly breeze combined with some low cloud and rain. An early start on the patch paid dividends with a group of distant Black-tailed Godwits on the causeway between the two lakes. First there was four, then eight, then fourteen and then, when I got to the previously out of view south side of the causeway, an amazing twenty-six. With quite extensive dark orange underparts they appear to be birds of the Islandica race. Seemingly there was plenty of food for them as they were still present the following evening when I shot this video.

Pushed for time I moved to the northern end of the large lake and in the now heavy rain picked up another prize, a cracking adult summer Little Gull. Unfortunately it only stayed for ten minutes or so before heading north.

Lots of Wheatears over the last week with an all time personal high of 23 last Saturday (14th). With the seemingly blocking conditions most of them still remain with at least 15 still present yesterday.

9th April. Ton Up

It's been a very quiet period for the last few days with very few migrants making their way north. Once again though the rain brought some goodies, with a couple of White Wagtails around the lake and best of all and a patch first a Sandwich Tern that circled the lakes at 9am before heading off north. The latter took this years self-found patch list to the 100 mark.

Arriving home from another visit that proved fruitless I'd just sat down to tot up the species total for Orgreave (161) when Andy rang me with news of a mega on the 'Plains'.

Despite looking as wild as it could ever be it was clearly one of the three escaped birds currently wandering the country.

6th April. Thayer's Gull

With the cold weather well and truly back I had planned on making this a weekend of jobs around the house. Having spent just an hour yesterday at Orgreave and seeing just a solitary Wheatear I opted to stay in bed this morning.  I planned on finishing the plumbing job that I was halfway through then heading over to Lincolnshire for the Thayer's Gull around midday. Halfway through draining down the central heating Roy, rang offering me a lift that I declined.  It must have been the fumes off the flux that was affecting my brain, this was lift to a lifer that was only 40 minutes away and with the Gull Guru giving us a free sample I changed my mind and rang Roy back. Things with Roy have a habit of not going to plan and after a diversion to collect Ray (Ratty) Platts we finally hit the M18 some 30 minutes later. I was conscious of the fact that this bird never seemed to stay in the same place for very long and I honestly didn't expect to see it, so when we arrived to see birders running for their cars we just followed the crowd, right to where our target sat posing for a good twenty minutes or so.  I can't pretend to know much about Thayer's - I've only just joined the cult of gull watching - but it seemed to tick the few boxes of knowledge that I have got

It's no Audouin's or Great Black-head Gull, but as Roy would say "they all look the same on the list"

31st March. Out Of The Mist

Daily visits through the week bore little fruit with a few Curlew, the Knot and a few Little Ringed Plovers being the only birds of note. Despite the warm weather not a single hirundine was noted. Early morning fog was persistent presumably preventing any passing birds from actually seeing the lakes.

I only had an hour to spare on Saturday but with light rain and a north easterly breeze the conditions looked promising.  Almost as soon as the rain got heavier things began to happen, an adult Kittiwake dropped in and the first Swallow of the year came out of the shower with a single Sand Martin for company.

As the rain cleared the assembled gulls rose hurriedly and I scanned the air expecting a raptor - probably a Peregrine.  Picking up a distant silhouette with the naked eye I was stunned when I realised this was no Peregrine but a Red Kite a new bird for the patch and still fairly uncommon in the low parts of the Sheffield area.  It circled round for ten minutes before heading south. A few minutes later Kev rang me to say it was passing over nearby RVCP. A nice end to a fairly quiet March, taking the self-found patch year to 98.