A quick’un

Busy busy busy… today we actually signed the contract on the new house at Loxley (at last!) which means we now only have just over a week to move. I won’t bore everyone with a load of off-topic rantings about rental properties, but it was a lot more faff that it should have been. Expect lots of posts about my new “patch” very soon!

I have to mention quickly a short walk we went on just over a week ago up at the moors at Strines. It’s easy to take the Peak District for granted, and forget how lucky we are to live on the edge of it here in Sheffield. We took a picnic, and spent time watching the Red Grouse, and listening to their bizarre maniacal cackling, while meadow pipits flitted round us. I also saw my first reptile of the year – a common lizard scurrying through the grass.

I probably won’t be posting again til after the move, but I’ll try and write something good after. Promise!

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Tawnies!

I’ve regular heard Tawny Owls around my house for the last two years, and never caught a glimpse of one. Last night we had the window open in the bedroom, and around midnight we heard a couple calling to each other very close to the house. I looked out of the window just in time to see one flapping over the row of terraces opposite, silhouetted against the sky like a giant, fat moth. I’m glad I saw one before I move!

A fantastic day’s birding…

Today I had a day off work, as I went to Old Moor to discuss volunteering there. It looks like I’ll be helping out at some events, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

The birds today were absolutely fantastic. I was a bit early for my meeting, so I had a quick walk down the nearby Trans-Pennine trail which was alive with singing willow warblers and yellowhammers (how come you wait to see a bird all year and then you can’t stop seeing them?).

After the meeting, the birds came thick and fast, with beautiful plump bullfinches on the feeders, along with the usual tree sparrows, goldfinches, greenfinches, great tits, reed buntings etc. There were singing chiffchaffs and blackcaps, my first willow tit of the year, and more yellowhammers!

In the hides, I saw this year’s first swallow, some little ringed plovers, great views of snipe, and best of all a kingfisher, which sped across the water and which I was lucky to be pointing in the right direction to see.

It was such a good day that I completely effortlessly passed the “50 Old Moor birds in a day” target I set myself and failed to get the other week! Do you want me to list them? No? Well I am anyway…

Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot, Collared Dove, Cormorant, Dunnock, Gadwall, Goldfinch, Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Jackdaw, Kingfisher, Lapwing, Linnet, Little Ringed Plover, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pochard, Redshank, Reed Bunting, Robin, Ruddy Duck, Shelduck, Shoveler, Skylark, Snipe, Song Thrush, Starling, Swallow, Teal, Tree Sparrow, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Willow Tit, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer

Easter and onwards!

Agh, so much to write about since I last updated.

On Good Friday, I went to Laura’s parents’ new house in Bollington, Cheshire. They live very close to the canal, and it’s truly beautiful. We went for a short walk, and I got mildly excited when I spotted a brambling. I don’t think anyone really shared my excitement by a bird that’s almost a chaffinch… We also spotted a common toad on the ground, which luckily Laura spotted before she trod on it!

On Easter Sunday we took a trip to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which was pretty busy but did allow me to spot my first siskins of the year, as well as great crested grebe.

On Easter Monday morning, I started my BTO Breeding Bird survey, by doing the initial survey of the area. My area is in Stocksbridge, just north of Underbank Reservoir. The path is through farmland and nudges into a wood, and there were plenty of birds to see, including curlews, lapwings, skylarks, goldcrests, meadow pipits, coal tits and long-tailed tits. Just outside the surveying area, in the wood, I heard an irate wren, and saw a sparrowhawk zooming away.

From there I took a reasonably long walk to my parents’ in Deepcar, via Underbank, Midhopestones and Bolsterstone. In the plantation round Underbank there were nuthatches, treecreepers and various other small birds, and great crested grebes, tufted ducks, mallards and Canada geese on the water. The presence of large, blue eggshells scattered about the wood was explained when there was an almighty crash, and two nesting herons took off from the treetops above my head! Annoyingly I also heard what I’m almost certain was a loud party of crossbills flying above out of sight in the treetops, and didn’t catch a glimpse. There was also a great spotted woodpecker drumming.

Midhopestones brought up more lapwings, curlews and skylarks, and a pair of courting toads walking across the road. I also saw my first yellowhammers of the year (how had I not seen one yet?!). Walking across some moorland towards Bolsterstone, there were large numbers of meadow pipits, and red grouse calling in the distance. Another great view of curlews and another great spotted woodpecker (this time seen and not just heard) finished off a great birding walk.

I’ll split this in two and do today in another thread…

House update

Well, we may have found a new house, in Loxley. It’s a great house, with a garden, brilliant views and a shortish walk to Damflask which excites me a lot. Plus, even though it’s so close to the country, it’s also a short walk to Malin Bridge tram stop. We’ve put an application in (and paid the extortionate £120 “application fee” at the estate agent – don’t get me started on that!), so fingers crossed…