26th June. Problematic Pork Pies

For the last few years I've been birding in denial. No denying the fact that actually I'm a fairly average - or even below average birder - who occasionally gets lucky with a few scarce and the very occasional rare. No. Denial that I am getting old (er) and that my eyesight is rapidly failing. Whilst you can pay for the finest optics in the world there's not a fat lot you can do when your eyes - the finest pair of optics you will ever own - start to pack up.  Recently it's got worse. Without bin's birds now appear as fuzzy images and after just 10 minutes of birding my distant vision gets frustratingly bad to the point where birding really isn't enjoyable. Digiscoping is difficult even when wearing my 'readers' and I suspect my degrading vision contributes to my generally crap photos. So having to accept that my eyes are pretty crap, and will get worse, I now have to learn to combine binoculars with glasses!
Should have gone to Specsavers!
Despite my near myopic state I've still managed some birding, but not much.  Seemingly, and no thanks to the wet weather, the waders on the patch are not doing too bad with Lapwing, Redshank, Oystercatcher and LRP all enjoying suacess. A few signs of return passage with Curlews,Dunlin and Ringed Plover moving through hinting that it won't be long before things start happening again. Hopefully my corrected vision will help me get the sites first and much awaited (and deserved) proper rare!

10th June. Swapping Rollers

Spent the last week almost housebound wrestling with brushes, rollers and paint and only visiting the patch on a handful of dates and not once in the last couple of days.  Finally cracked at midday and took the ladies and me off to Aldbrough for a look another kind of Roller. An absolute stunner, as they always are, feeding in the field and then posing on its favourite post for a few minutes.
Disappointing to see that the requests to park only in the Bewick Hall Car Park and to keep out of the field (photographers again) were largely being ignored (at least between 3 & 4pm). The resulting rutted verge was not a pretty sight, but that's some Birders for you arrogant, lazy and tight (the car park was a couple of hundred yards away, free, though with a donation bucket for those with a conscience!).  No doubt these will be the first to start moaning at the next big suppression!

2nd June. DIY Flyover

The Door of Fortune
Traditionally I take it steady once May is out, scaling down patch visits until around the second week in July when the waders and gulls start moving again. In the middle of decorating half the house and staying in bed until 7am, for the second successive morning I opted to stay at home.  To keep the dust down I decided that it would be easier if I sanded the doors outside.

Our house is at the highest point sandwiched between RVCP, Ulley, Treeton and Orgreave and decent fly-over birds are not too uncommon with highlights such as Whimbrel (21 whilst I was laying the patio in the above pic), Whooper Swan, Hobby and almost daily Common Terns in the summer. Anyway back to the door. I had almost finished sanding one side when to the north I noticed a group of four birds flying lazily west.  They were fairly distant and I assumed (without binoculars) that they must be large gulls!  As I looked at them more closely I realised that they weren't gulls but something bigger, probably herons. Herons that were flying on almost flat wings! At this point I ran for the bins' hung up in the hall.  Leaping back into the garden I raised the bins and was hit with the almost surreal view of four White Storks- shiiiiiiittt....  I then went a bit nuts, ran back through the house screaming "get out to the front" to Jo and Beth, who assumed that (by the noise I was making) some scumbag was halfway down the road carrying our TV.  I grabbed the camera, stood in the road in bare feet and couldn't see them - was I imagining it all.  Fortunately I wasn't as I then picked them up over the neighbours houses still drifting slowly west. Raising the camera I then pealised there was no memory card in it!!  Fortunately the compact was in the car and did have a card in it. I managed a feu record shots before they disappeared over the roof line of the houses opposite.  The next 30 minutes was a blur. I made a few phone calls, drank some sweet tea, did a little dance around the house and contemplated that actually these birds were most likely the first genuine wild White Storks that I'd seen in Britain!  These were presumably the same birds that had been seen at Lakenheath on 28th May and likely four of the original six (wild birds) that have been touring the south since April.  Whatever their provenance the sight of them over the house was pretty spectacular.