Cock of the Blue Rock

Watching a Blue Rock Thrush on 1980s housing estate in the pretty Cotswold town of Stow on the Wold on the 28th December wasn't where I expected to be spending some of my Christmas leave.To be honest had I had something better to do, such as clearing out my belly button fluff (coincidentally also blue) I would have stayed at home. It didn't impress me that much, in fact it didn't impress me at all as it paraded around the rooftops and I scoffed to one "celebrity" twitcher that it was clearly plastic and would never get accepted. To be honest I have no idea what that statement was based on, like the Grinch I just wanted to spoil the Christmas party.

My feelings about it didn't change as it overstayed its welcome into early spring. Then it disappeared and amazingly was picked up at Belle Tout in East Sussex, presumably en route to the sunny Mediterranean.  I guess that doesn't necessarily prove it's origins, but the BBRC have now deemed it acceptable. However just because a group of middle-aged blokes agree that this (and all those dodgy ducks) are tickable it doesn't mean that we should bow to their superiority and accept their decision. No I am better than this, I made my decision to tick this bird back in April (when it appeared at the latter locality) not because I thought it was a relocating lost migrant, oh no this was based on one thing.... I dipped the Scilly bird in 1999 and it hurt!

Next one to go on the list will be the Dalmatian Pelican - purely on the basis that I waited until October to see it and it was great!

Whilst on the subject of ticking stuff; I had a quick look at my new I.O.C list this evening - I wish I hadn't. Gained one with the split of the Bean Geese, but lost Thayer's Gull, Hudsonian Whimbrel and a Redpoll.

Hudsonian Whimbrel - Boat Cove. Not sure what's worse, the fact that I have to take it off or that I had to pay a fiver to park.

The Hills are alive....

Or maybe not...

It has to be said that over the last few years that when it comes to local birding I've seldom strayed from the patch.  The Peak District is a mere 30 minutes from home, in fact I can see it from my front door! Yet it's been well over a year since I ventured out there, which considering how impressive it is, is appalling.  Today we made the effort and after parking at Blackamoor, walked Houndkirk, Burbage, Higger Torr and back via Fox House.  The amount of birdlife was astounding. Astounding in that there was barely anything! A juv Stonechat, Curlew a handful of Kestrels and Meadow Pipits, seemingly the only birds up there in numbers.  Thirty years ago when my friend and I would come up here in the six week school holidays we would see lots of Wheatears, Whinchat, Ring Ouzels and lots of Curlews! Maybe they were all hiding!

Fantastic views from Burbage, but not many birds!

I did however get a surprise first just a 100 metres or so from the car, a Harvest Mouse. I almost stood on it as it sat on the path in the managed verge and it wasn't until I picked it up that I realised what it was. After putting back into the grass I was surprised to find another just 10 metres along the path. Not sure of the status of Harvest Mouse in the Peak District, but I guess they're not that common.  

Plover Lover

Since finding my first American Golden Plover, some 27 years ago, these spangled beauties and their Eurasian and Pacific cousins have been a favourite of mine. When the latter species turned up at North Cave on Friday and with the patch being absolutely dead I decided to go and have a look.

If my ageing memory serves me right this was only my third Pacific Goldie, previously in Lancashire (Piling 1990) and on the wrong side of the Humber in 1993, though these birds were stunning summer-plumaged adults, presumably this was a 1st year bird, though nonetheless still very smart.

On the downside, the finder Gary Dayes is my nearest rival in the Patchwork Challenge (Inland North) and with a 12 pointer like this soundly kicks me into 3rd place. Perhaps this will give me the kick up the arse to find something! A dream inland find for sure, these days I struggle to find bog standard Goldies at Orgreave! Apologies for the photos I'm still getting to grips with getting back into digiscoping!

Amur Regretting This.

For me new birds are becoming few and far between and when something that I do need turns up it tends to be on some far-flung island that I just don't have the bottle to twitch these days, though to be fair I've never been much of an island twitcher.

Friday 7th was my day off, though as with every day I was up at 5:30 ready to be on the patch by 6. I'd managed the 3S routine before picking my phone up and catching up with last nights bird news. The downside of getting up early is that I'm generally in bed fairly early and this time there really was a downside. The news of an Amur Falcon at Polgigga, Cornwall had broken at about 21:20 the previous evening and I'd slept through it all. No problem it was still early, quick trip around the patch and leave on positive news. I didn't have to wait long only half way around the lake and the news that it was still came through. Dashed back home, chucked a few bits in the car and headed south.

The plan was; see the bird, take some photos, have a pasty, stay over with my holidaying parents and drive home the following morning.

In reality it went like this:

The highlight of the trip!
Get almost as far as Exeter and hear that it's flown off. Mood changes. Convince myself to carry on, and that it's just having a brief fly around. Update at 11:30 that it's been seen again. Mood improves, it's obviously still in the area. At Hayle by 1pm no further news. Console myself by buying a huge Phelps pasty* - at least I won't go hungry whilst waiting for it. Fill up with fuel and do the last 10 miles to Polgigga, by this point thinking (out loud) that this was a very bad idea.  Arrive at Polgigga at 2 ish and note the rather scant number of observers present.  I got the impression that nobody (including me) present during the day had the vaguest idea about where the bird had actually roosted the previous evening something that became evident later.  Despite unsubstantiated reports from the Sennen area and rumour that the the bird had been present for 3 days it was not seen again. Personally I think that it had arrived the previous evening, dropped into the first bit of cover and roosted in the open waiting for it to get warm, feed up and move on.

By dusk I was too knackered to drive home and with vague optimism, that it might have sneaked into roost, I decided to stay over in the car. The Peugeot 108 does not make a good bed for the night, kind of like folding yourself into a suitcase! The following morning and with the help of various crowd shots from the previous day I managed to locate the roost spot. Obviously it wasn't there but I tried to imagine how great I would feel had I refound it. Which frankly like the whole trip was a bloody daft idea.  With that I threw in the proverbial towel and headed home via my sympathetic parents!

Quite a different scene from 24 hours earlier. To make it worse there were two horses hiding among the cows. 
I bloody hate horses!

*Not a pie but acceptable when in Cornwall

Back For Good

Well three years since I did anything on here, so why choose now to start back up? I'm a firm believer of not doing stuff when it stops being enjoyable, and that's pretty much what happened. So why start again? No idea really, I just got the urge to take it up again and I apologise in advance if it turns out like most comebacks to be a complete pile of crap!

Readers of this blog (I make the assumption that there are some) in the past may have found me (in no particular order) boring, witty, annoying, antagonistic, spiteful, funny, inspiring, wordy, illiterate .... and so on and so on.  I purposefully left out words such as intelligent, knowledgeable, ace birder (two words obviously), because I'm not. I'm just an average middle-aged socialist, who lives in the grim northern town of Rotherham and likes birding. I don't claim to be an expert birder, because I am very far from that. However, I have been birding since the age of 12 and I love it - always have, probably always will.

When this blog started back in 2007 I was in a dark place (read the early posts, they are bloody awful). Filled with venom and Prozac (literally), I spewed out posts filled with bile and sometimes hate.  Ten years on and that's all behind me - mostly. So, readers (again I make assumptions) what can you possibly expect to read in the coming months?

Birds. Of course, birds.

Pies. Some, though I'm choosey these days and pastry gives me indigestion! Who knew?

Patching. I dare say that somewhere in the dark corner of the internet "patching" means something sexual, I recently discovered that "dusting" is not just something you do when trying to impress the wife to earn vital birding Brownie points - or maybe it is! I digress. Patching in my case is my near daily obsession birding Orgreave. Since last visiting blogger I've managed to find a few tasty species there, such as: White-winged Black Tern, Caspian Tern, Great White Egret and Temminck's Stint, all top drawer rares from a local perspective. Entering the Patchwork Challenge has increased my obsession, taking on well-established (proper nature reserves) in the Inland North.

Caspian Tern as it headed north from Carr Vale 22nd July 16

Twitching:  Less and less of this these days, but there will be some.

Politics: For the record I'm pro EU, anti-austerity, hate the Tories and love Corbyn, given the chance I would take out Trump tomorrow. I'll probably steer clear of politics!

Lee: Who? One for the birders I guess.  I think that's run its course.

Photos: Lots of photos, ranging from awful to record shots. I'm no photographer, I'm a birder with a camera who gets lucky now and again. DSLR, bridge camera and recently back into digiscoping. 

Life. Occasional more personal posts, probably about my wonderful wife and amazingly intelligent daughter. Sick bags are optional.

So that's it. Like watching Love Island it's your choice nobody made you look. Enjoy.

Oh, and this is me. If you ever have the misfortune to meet me, feel free to chat, mock or just punch me in the face. You can even follow me on Twitter @mn_reeder but I really am very boring!