26th May. I'm Still Here

If there's anyone still out there, and after a four month absence why would there be, then hello I'm still here.

Blogging hasn't come easily this year, and eight hours a day sat in front of a computer kinda makes you start to hate the thing by the end of the day.  Combined with the early (pre-work) starts on the patch I really am too knackered by the evening and like most zombies of the 21st Century I watch shit TV and look at videos of cats on the Internet.


After a very quiet start to the year with only a couple of noteworthy birds namely
two Iceland Gulls, one of which was probably something rarer, but I have to let that one go..

The mantle and upperwing really were this dark!

Other than a Sanderling no other winter highlights spring to mind. I managed to miss most of the Whooper Swans, just scraping a couple at the end of March, but wildfowl numbers on the whole were very low and for the first time in five years the patch never froze..

Despite the promise of an early Spring, with the first Wheatear on the 20th March things soon went belly up with migration almost grinding to a halt until the third week of April.

Almost daily Whimbrel.

A better than average Spring for Arctic Terns

Then came May..

May always arrives with great anticipation, but more often than not it ends with a great deal of frustration.
The 3rd was one of those typically frustrating days, warm sunshine light south-west wind and very little movement. After a lap of the two lakes I decided that a circuit of the site, taking in the hawthorn hedgerows and young trees would prove more fruitful. A couple of Lesser Whitethroats singing in the southwest corner were a good addition - and at the time of writing still the only ones this year - and a Cuckoo (the first since 2012) almost deserved a little dance. Other than the aforementioned it was generally very quiet though.
Trawling through my Twitter notifications I scowled enviously at a report of a Glossy Ibis at Carr Vale and carried on round the perimeter stopping to scan over the seemingly birdless lakes. A quick look at Twitter again revealed that the Ibis had flown north from Carr Vale. Hmm. I stood on the causeway between the two lakes scanning the skyline all around me. I could see distant Swifts and Skylarks and mused to myself that even I could pick up a distant Ibis - though in all likelihood it would be miles up by now. As I turned from looking over the near woods at Treeton I was immediately faced with the site of a Glossy Ibis slowly dropping out of the sky towards the largest lake.
For a second or two I was stunned, then grabbed the camera and rattled off a few shots before it disappeared briefly. As I picked it up again it headed towards me and to my amazement dropped at the waters edge just in front of where I was stood. Okay Glossy Ibis aren't the best lookers in the world, but this was the first Sheffield area record (though strictly speaking Messrs Beevers and Gould can claim that honour as it headed north from Carr Vale) and one that had avoided our area for too long. Despite the good weather there wasn't and hadn't been a single dog walker onsite all morning and as the Ibis fed at the edge there was no danger that it would be flushed. After making a couple of panicking phone calls whilst firing off the camera like a three year old with a machine gun (the photos were all shit) the Ibis realised that it wouldn't get a decent meal disturbance or not and promptly left for the Old Moor area where three weeks 
on it still resides...
Disappointingly only two Whinchat so far.
Hobby can be tricky some years.
The first Spring record of Black Tern

My run of good luck through May continued adding Little Egret, Hobby, Grey Plover, Whimbrel (almost daily in the early part of the month), Little Stint (4 in total including a very tricky grey looking bird that had me completely screwed at the time), Black Tern and a fine drake Garganey on the 24th.

The Patchwork Challenge has totally taken all my birding time so far this year and to say that I'm addicted would be an understatement. As I write I've amassed a total of 120 species and 142 points, slightly ahead of last year but on course for a record year. Again August will be the make or break month and there's still lots of waders to aim for....

Easy when you've got a comparison species.

Only the second record of Garganey and the first drake
For once a peaceful  year (so far) for the many Hares