30th July. "I've had worse"

"I've had worse." That's the phrase I seem to be using on an all too regular basis over the last month. On the whole it's been pretty grim and with no useful weather predicted and the water levels remaining stubbornly high I suspect I'll be saying it a few more times in the coming weeks. That said I really have had worse, but with only a Yellow-legged Gull, two more Common Scoters and a site first in the form of a Coal Tit not much worse!

30th July. New Developments

A while back, whilst on the bus ride home, I noticed one of those yellow and black roadsigns that are generally used to guide contractors vehicles to a specific development site. This sign however filled me with doom and despair, it said "Waverley New Homes". Waverley, for the uninitiated, is the Tory developers friendly name for Orgreave. After all a sign saying "Orgreave new homes" would instantly remind anyone (old enough) of the infamous battle during the miners strike - but enough of that.  Development commenced way back in April, just as the ground nesting birds were getting down to it.  Did the developers take this in to consideration? Did they bollocks. Herras fencing was hurriedly erected and an army of earth moving vehicles moved in.  Harworth Estates (HE) later claimed that their ecologist had walked the site and found nothing - this was a complete lie and a poor attempt by HE  to cover up their cock up. I do believe that it was a cock up and not a deliberate act but ignorance is no excuse! HE's only saving grace was that in the subsequent weeks the wet weather screwed up just about all the local ground nesting birds seemingly saving their blushes. I do hope that any subsequent developments (and there will be lots more in the coming years) take into account the ground nesting species.
The first three houses are under the right hand wind turbine
The development has moved on at a very quick pace and already the first (show) houses are up. Approximately one quarter of the northern plains area has now gone. This first phase will create 250 houses with a further 2750 planned over the next 25 years! I'm not going to moan about it, people need places to live and this part of the site was always earmarked for a development of this nature. Orgreave will see many changes over the coming years - some good some not so good. Work on the lakes as a flood defence has been carried out recently and we now have a overflow for the River Rother and an open culvert and spillway that will carry all surface water away from the new development. Both of these new habitats will hopefully improve the biodiversity of the site.

The new spillway and open drain 

Gyr Crakes. Scillonian Pie

Quite possibly the greatest Gyr Crakes video yet, featuring birds and more pies than this blog has in the last 6 months

10th July. Deadlock Broken, Breaking Bad

Last nights brief visit to the patch, between heavy downpours, produced a much expected year tick with five Common Scoter on the largest of the two lakes.

Another wet visit this morning revealed that the summer doldrums were truly over with an obvious movement of waders taking place and another Common Scoter. A total of 7 Dunlin, 7 Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sand', 3 Black-tailed Godwit and a very nice partial summer plumage Ruff.  Seems other local sites also noted wader movement, perhaps returning failed breeders?

The last month quiet spell gave me the chance to feed my current TV addiction - Breaking Bad. In a nutshell it's the story of a chemistry teacher who, following being diagnosed with terminal cancer starts to 'cook' Crystal Meth (Methamphetamine) as a way of supporting his family once he's gone.  That probably sounds a bit crap, trust me it is by far the best US drama I've ever seen.  Unfortunately it's not available in the UK except via Netflix (series 1-3) and by illegal streaming of series 4. The whole story is as addictive as the Crystal Meth' that Walter (the main character) produces, that by series 3 you will do anything to get your hands on series 4 - anything..

8th July. Fifty Shades of Gary

Birding's pretty dull at the moment so I wrote this bit of literary filth.........

                  Fifty Shades of Gary (see what I did there?) 

Gary was just like any normal guy, but he had an obsession, his obsession was making lists. Even at an early age he'd made lists, he was the champ of his EyeSpy group, the under 7's South-east Martin's News Group League even though secretly he was almost 8 at the time. Lists were his passion. Saturday mornings were spent dashing up and down the aisles of his local Tesco as he frantically crossed items off his mum's shopping list as they flew off the shelves into the trolley. Recording a personal best of fifteen minutes, including packing he quickly grew tired of the mundane listing. Following ejection from the EyeSpy Group - for an incident involving the ticking of a number of Llama species in the Big EyeSpy Book of Farm Animals (he was a renegade, who made his own rules - screw what anyone else thought) he moved onto bigger things - planes!

After years of hanging around public viewing areas with a jotter, Biro, Polaroid Instamatic, and a copy of Razzle (for those moments when the planes just weren't hitting the spot) Gary again began to grow tired. He had a longing for total fulfilment and those giant metal birds just weren't doing it for him. One  quiet afternoon whilst browsing the 'specialist' magazines in the Gatwick branch of WHSmith Gary spotted a magazine that would change his life forever. As he quietly asked the assistant to pop it in a brown paper bag a euphoric feeling came over him, resulting in a tiny damp patch in his undergarments.  Dashing home and up the stairs, almost tripping on the uppermost step as it had begun to fray, Gary headed for the spare room, slammed the door and locked it behind him. As he placed the brown paper bag upon the bed it opened, spilling it's contents onto the flannelet sheets the words 'Bird Watching' clearly visible.  Gary fell to his knees and flicked slowly through the pages, tits, shags, boobies drew his eye but his breathing fell silent when he read about a birder named Lea who had smashed the year listing record for the fifth consecutive year... Gary let out a short sharp yelping sound threw the magazine under his bed and went down for his tea.... A look of shame on his face as he sat down to his Findus crispy pancakes and potato waffles, he couldn't get the contents of that magazine out of his mind.....

Pulling off the road Gary opened the boot of his trusty Vauxhall Chevette, rummaged around pulling out an industrial looking pair of Mark Scheffel 10-30x50 binoculars, a Peter Storm cagoule and his trusty Thermos flask. Heading down the muddy track to a small wooden hide clutching the magazine he had purchased earlier in the week, his thoughts were on just one thing how many species of bird would he see?
The hide was deserted when Gary entered, fumbling around he found the catches and slowly opened the flaps. The bright light caused him to squint and he reached for his binoculars, first removing the lens caps then adjusting the flimsy vinyl strap before raising them to his eyes.. Birds were there, but what were they?  Gary had made a bird list from the index of an old bird book he'd picked up at a boot sale, but he hadn't a clue what any of them were, never mind what they looked like.  He needed to put a name to them, he needed to add them to his list but what the Hell were they? As he screwed up his eyes for another look through the Mark Scheffel's (approximately £12.25 plus postage from the Sunday People) the hide door creaked open and day-glow figure in a purple shell-suit entered and sat quietly in the corner.
Gary reached for his flask and as he put the purple rim of it's cup to his mouth a voice in the corner murmured "Is that a Vogue?" Gary looked up from his chicken cup o soup and clocked the polyester clad figure in the corner. "Do you come here often" said Gary. "No mate just here for the year-tick" replied the bejewelled (a crucifix glinting in one ear) 80's throw-back. Conversation blossomed between the two. Gary was getting more and more animated and as he clocked the silver wellingtons that his companion was wearing he realised that this was the 'legend' he had read all about in that magazine. Flush with excitement Gary pulled his Peter Storm over his head revealing his binoculars to an incredulous Lea. "Jesus what a massive pair you've got, can I hold them?" Gary stuttered "of course help yourself." As Lea held them in his hands he playfully flicked the rubbery eyecups, swinging them too and fro as they hung below Gary's neck.  Gary was enjoying the attention of his new found mate when he spotted something poking out of his Tacchini tracky bottoms "what the Hell is that?" said Gary. "that's my Hertel Reuss" replied Lea. "Can I hold it?" said Gary breathlessly. "help yourself" said Lea. Gary reached for the hard cylindrical object protruding from Lee's pocket and clasped his hands around it, "hold on" said Lea "you need to make it longer before you can use it." There was no protective rubber and Gary extended it to almost a full two feet in length and slowly moved his head towards it. As he looked down the end the image of a large shiny wading bird appeared before him "isn't this a Glossy Ibis?" he said "year tick" said Lee.....

This chance meeting lead to one of the most beautiful pairings in British Birding and that continues to this day.........

The End

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. 

Hertel Reuss