27 April 2011

Tormented Ticking!

Yo! Now, before we begin, this post may be a little lengthy so perhaps best to go and make a brew, roll a fag and slip into something more comfortable...

Ready? So I shall begin.
After neglecting the blog for a few weeks, I thought it might be an idea to scribe some nonsense as to what I've been up to - don't get excited!
Rewinding back to nearly two weeks ago, the weekend of 16th-17th April was spent scouring the patch. Highlights over the two day period consisted of (16th)a single Barnacle Goose that arrived with two Canada Geese (This bird remained for only c30 minutes before flying off. It was later seen heading over Bentinck Pit Top) 1 LRP north, a Jay thru SE, 3 Yellowhammers & 5 Whitethroats. On the 17th, the only highlight really was 2 LRPs that zipped thru SE & the first Sedge Wblr of the year. Throughout the weekend, 4 pairs of Teal were present along with 2 pars of Gadwall. Greylags had increased to 12 and 2 Snipe were mucking about in the SW corner. Late morning on the 17th, I headed to Willington GPs in D*rbyshire in order to have a squint at a pair of Garganey but infuriatingly, the pair of summer ducks had been flushed by a bitch with a dog shortly before I arrived at the Canal Pit! Other bits here included 2 Reed Wblrs, up to 7 Sedge Wblrs, 2 Groppers & 4 Oystercatchers.

The first four day bank holiday weekend began pretty quietly with a visit to KMR on the 22nd. It was once again a sombre affair with the highlight being a single LRP in the SW corner. Later that morning, myself & Feely did some snooping around the meadows adjacent to my house in Tibshelf and discovered two singing Groppers & 2 Lesser Whitethroats.

The morning of the 23rd was spent melting at Padley Gorge where we kinda bagged the lot - Curlew, 5+ Redstarts, numerous Tree Pipits, a male Merlin, 3 Pied Flycatchers, 4+ Stonechats, a very showy male Ring Ouzel & a singing Whinchat.

The afternoon was spent monging out in the garden where the highlights were a Yellow Wag over and Mikipedia getting his ears lowered....

On the 24th, I awoke to the sweet sound of a male Cuckoo singing from the paddocks behind my house. Sadly, that was as good as it got as I chose to stay within the confines of Castle DUNNington and indulge in a spot of gardening/housework for the day. That afternoon at c4.45pm, news of a Black Stork seen flying SE over Beeley Moor would have had me screaming off NW in order to intercept the beast....had the news not been two f*ckin' hours late! The usual excuses about the gimp not being a twitcher and not having any contact numbers have been thrown about on that Bird Forum thing but as you can imagine, I believe that excuse as much as I believe in the fairytale about that bloke called Jesus (thought I'd use that example with it being Easter 'n' all).

The 25th saw me at Attenborough NR early morning, strategically positioned should the Stork be relocated in south Notts/north Leics. This proved to be ineffective as the creature had allegedly not even left D*rbyshire - I was gonna write a bit more on this but really couldn't be arsed to humour the cunts who held it back for 7 fuckin hours!. However, Attenborough did prove to be pretty productive with a fair few bits - a stunning drake Garganey snaffled around the margins of a reed fringed pool while a Common Sand & its Greener Cousin grubbed about nearby. A couple of Garden Warblers vocally scrapped with the far more numerous Blackcaps who in turn were outsang by the copious volume of Whitethroats. A few Groppers reeled from dock and fence post and a Cetti's Warbler showed its tits off as it sang from the outer fringes of a Hawthorn clump. Common Terns were noted on every pit, scrabbling amongst each other for the prime spots on the 'Tern' platforms and a White-fronted Goose was noseying about in amongst some scruffy geese over the Trent. With the hands of time slipping by and the temperature rising, the volume of Joe public insidiously increased thus I quickly vacated leaving the dog walkers, joggers and picnic people to enjoy their freedom away from their city constraints. I headed to Long Eaton Gps where I picked up a Hobby foolishly heading towards Attenborough but very little else. With the overspill from Attenborough encroaching on my space, I did one back home.
Sat at home later that afternoon, I updated my very poor 2011 year-list on Bubo and realised that I was only c25 birds away from being back in the top ten, with an awful lot of easy dross still to collect.....
Could I? Would I? Should I? Perhaps not but..........

14 April 2011

Even MORE patching!

A days holiday from work today (April 14th) gave me the opportunity to have a few hours at King's Mill early morning. Arriving just after 6am, the first couple of hours were relatively quiet although Blackcap & Willow Warbler numbers had dramatically increased since the weekend (with end of 'day' counts of 17 & 11 respectively).
With nothing 'new in' on the water and very little moving, I decided to go and have a bash around the 'Weedy Field' and swiftly bagged a 'reeling' Gropper in the adjacent Rape field. A quick blast around the hawthorn scrub produced little else but as I was heading back towards the water at c8.30, a patch tick called somewhere in the grey skies above....GREY PLOVER!! But where the f*ck was it?? Panicking somewhat, I scoured the skies until my eyes were almost bleedin' and then there it was, quickly zipping away from me heading SE. Luckily I managed to lock the scope onto it and enjoy c5 seconds of Plover arse before it vanished behind nearby Hamilton Hill (KMR list - 175).
Another highlight today was the discovery of a sleek male White Wag' in the paddock adjacent to the visitor centre. The years first Sedge Warbler was chuntering away from an hedgerow behind the Sailing Club stables and at least 3 Whitethroats were noted. It was also interesting to note at least SEVEN Willow Tits (two pairs and 3 singles) throughout the recording area and The SW Corner held 4 pairs of Teal, 2 pair of Gadwall and 2 Snipe. The best day of spring so far at KMR.....roll on the weekend!!

This evening, I went out looking for Yellow Wags in the paddocks and cattle fields around the village. I ended up at the fantastic Doe Hill Country Park and although I failed to locate any Wagtails, I did discover three smart Wheatears poncing about on the grazed turf at the south end of the pools. Doe Hill is severely under watched and with it being literally a two minute drive from my house, I would love to absolutely hammer the place but sadly my obscene & f*cked up mentality towards Notts birding means I could never bang time into a patch that lies in Derbyshire. Below are a few images of the place and some distant Wheatear shots.

11 April 2011

Petulant, Penniless Patching...

You've got a birdin' crew. You travel as a group in one or the others motor and at the end of the day/trip, the driver splits the cost of the fuel and you all cough up your rightful equal amounts, yeah?
Every so often however, one of the team is experiencing hard-times or something along them lines and when you ring them to offer them a place in the car, they pitifully have to decline as their funds don't allow them to pay their way at that time. The majority of birders, me definitely included, would always reply by saying ''It's OK mate, get ya shit together and I'll pay your share and ya can pay me back when ya flush again''. Sadly, a few days ago, a couple of my regular crew members did the complete opposite to me - I was offered a place on a day out in Norfolk. During the preceding week, I'd booked the Friday off work and was quite looking forward to a day out on the coast. Thursday evening however, I suddenly made myself aware that I may not actually have enough 'loose change' to justify the trip so I text the boys and let them know that I couldn't really afford to join them as I'd miscalculated my funds........ Ya know what reply I got? Go on, have a guess...bearing in mind that one of the individuals I'd text was virtually joined at my hip throughout our year-list attempt last year, the same guy who I'd frequently waivered any cost on numerous 'in-county' jaunts and also allowed to pay me for the odd twitch later if he couldn't afford it at the time.... the reply was simply, and this is verbatim -

''OK mate, shame''

That's it. As simple and blunt as that! Despite an overwhelming urge to text back with some explicit response such as ''Fuck off then ya c*nt'', I refrained, smoked a fag and polished off a bottle of rouge juice. It was only Norfolk anyway and everybody knows, only muppets go there on Fridays!

So, I had a free day & weekend to myself and made the decision to kick the shit out of the patch. This I did but sadly it failed to yield and kept most of it's goodies hidden, apart from a few little bits that somehow kept the enthusiasm going........
The following should be likened to the end credits of an epic movie, only to be read if you like the background music (this doesn't have music) or you're a die-hard fan (hopefully).

King's Mill Reservoir, Notts

Friday 8th April - Four hours of coverage resulted in very little apart from the beginning of a dose of sunburn. With awesome skies and a light breeze, I chose to viz-mig from the traditional spot over the railway. As was expected, viz-mig was quiet with a single Buzzard SE, 28 Mipits NW, 39 B-h.Gulls North and two Kestrels that powered very high & purposefully North. Coverage of the eastern boundary only resulted in 4 Willow Warblers, 2 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, & 2 R-l.Partridge.

Above - The view North from the 'hotspot'

Saturday 9th April - The undoubted highlight of another hot yet dreary 4hrs coverage was a Ringed Plover that tanked it thru heading NE at 9.54am. A proper patch mega with just 22 birds being previously recorded since 1991, the last confirmed record being back in 2005! Very little else was noted during the mornings vigil.

Sunday 10th April - A slightly more productive morning with the highlight being an LRP that zipped thru (SW) at 1040am. The first Whitethroats of the year had returned with at least two birds noisily announcing their presence along the railway adjacent to the Sailing Club Marsh. With only an handful of Sand Martins being seen over the weekend so far, it was good to note up to 30 birds feeding over the water with a single Swallow (no House Martin yet!). Willow Warblers, Blackcaps & Chiffys seem to be well 'in' now and 9+ Greylags were noted.

Above - boredom was eased by attempting some graphic images of Rape!

So, as I lazily lounged around on the garden Sunday afternoon, my mind being fuzzed by a combination of lager and the intense heat, I reflected that although it was a pretty uneventful few days, being free of the constraints of a year-list attempt but gripped by the lure of patching............fuck this, I'm rambling now. The End.

3 April 2011

Stay Local & Score!

Friday Night razzled graffiti

Unusual Behaviour Warning - Extreme LACK (Yes, LACK) of swearing & abuse in this post. Please close this page NOW if this is likely to offend.

Saturday 2nd April - Rising from my chambers much later than I had wanted (due to a night on the razz Friday evening), my plans to head to Tolkien County for that Dotted Crake were quickly abolished. Instead I carefully drove the short distance to Ogston Res' as it appeared that an Osprey that had been seen early morning was still loitering.
Upon arrival, Steve Mann informed me that there had in fact been three separate birds thru during the morning and I'd just missed the most recent! I gave it a good hour & half but it seemed that the Osprey passage had abated and I settled for a few consolation bits - Four LRPs, two Ringed Plovers, a shed load of Hirundines of all three flavours, three Buzzards, a singing Blackcap and three Goldeneyes.
Feeling slightly outcast by the 'resident' birdspotters I slithered away, literally unnoticed (they'd stealthly shuffled further away anyway and had polarised into a small huddle discussing the next NEW bird for Ogy, their favoured denture glue and the trouble they have satisfying their wives - I was gonna offer my services on the latter subject but quickly thought better of it, Derbyshire tarts ain't that aesthetically appealing, no matter what they say about them getting better with age!).
Anyhow, it later transpired that I shouldn't have been so petulant & not pissed off early as two more Ospreys passed thru during the afternoon!

Sunday 3rd April - Early doors at Clumber saw myself and Mikipedia belatedly searching for Hawfinches with no success. A snazzy drake Mandarin was sailing around near The Ornamental Bridge and a drumming Lesser Spotted Woodpecker showed it's tits off as it posed in the morning sun. Our first Willow Warbler of the year was heard as we left Clumber en route for the customary 'Golden Arches Breakfast'.

Misty morning view at Clumber Park

Our next birding destination was Budby Common where our target bird was swiftly bagged - at least two were 'Tululuing' from trees at 'The Triangle'. A singing male Stonechat was also seen here along with a very early, transient, singing Cuckoo. Chiffchaffs & Willow Warblers were aurally conspicuous and up to 7 Buzzards were bouncing around on the thermals. A pager message regarding an Osprey (yes, here we go again) at the nearby Pumping Station had us doing some fast walking to a strategic vantage point in order to hopefully connect. After c15 minutes and no sign, we were about to do one when I picked up a nice looking blob to the west of the Pumping Station. Boom! I get a self found Osprey and Mike bags himself an overdue Notts tick! A 'wheezing' 'Bling belted over heading NE as we turned to leave.

'Our' Osprey over Budby Flash (thanks to John Colclough for allowing me to use his excellent image of todays bird)

Our next stop was Budby Pumping Station Flash where we were lucky enough to meet local stalwarts John Colclough & Dave Morton. JC informed us that there HAD been two Ospreys, one which lingered before heading east at 8.40am and the bird we had independently witnessed at 9.25am. In the next 90 minutes we notched up an impressive tally of bits at this excellent little patch including an early Whimbrel east at 10am, 2 LRPs, Green Sand', 2 Oykes, 12+ Buzzards, 2 Sprawks, 2 Shelducks, 3 Tree Sparrow, Marsh Tit and all three varieties of Hirundine.

Shite mobile phone image of a Green Sand - also known as a Pec by some of the less Kool kidz who frequent BPS Flash!

Our final destination was the Raptor Watchpoint at Welbeck but sadly heat-haze stumped our hopes of snaring a 'BIG' Sparrowhawk thing, although up to 20 Buzzards in the air was ok, I guess. All in all a bloody good day out in the Premier Midlands Birdin' County.........................

(below) Mike utilises a NASA Kowa and asks ''Is that Crake still in Warks????''