On Saturday me and my occasional birding buddy Andy went up to Bolehill Flash to look for jack snipe, a “bogey” bird for both of us. After much squinting into undergrowth, none were apparent, but we racked up a decent list of species up there that included hunting sparrowhawk and buzzard, lots of redwing and a handful of fieldfare (is it me or are the latter harder to find this year?), reed bunting, grey wagtail and little grebe.
From there we took a look at a frozen Catcliffe Flash, where the most exciting species were shoveler and a couple of teal, plus the usual mallards and black-headed gulls, and from there to Orgreave Lakes…
On the way there we encountered one of the many gadwall in the area, which sadly was sat looking pretty sorry for itself by the Rother with an injured wing…
…and other ducks around included flocks of teal and tufted duck, and a few goosander, wigeon and pochard on the largest lake. Gulls around included a couple of great black-backed and a common, and a few that may have turned out more interested had we had a scope to scrutinise them a bit more closely. A few lapwing were around, as were skylarks and meadow pipits.
Then the more dramatic of the day’s events happened. A dogwalker walked past us, with his dog off the lead, which bounded straight over the iced up lake to chase the gulls. From this moment we saw the events unfolding.
The dog’s going to fall into the water.
The man’s going to go in after it.
And then we realised he was going to get stuck in the ice…
Just after we realised this, there was a cry for help from the lake, as he couldn’t climb out of the lake due to the slippery sides. As I was the one who knew the area better and had a chance of giving road directions, I phoned the emergency services while Andy did the hard work and sprinted to the guy’s aid, grabbing a life ring on the way and lobbing it. This gave him purchase to clamber out of ice, and the emergency services could thankfully be called off, as the guy was wet, cold but seemed otherwise unscathed from his icy bath.
A lesson there – don’t let your dogs run over iced-up lakes. The guy could have got into real trouble there, but thankfully turned out all right.
A second look at Bolehill on the way back didn’t turn up any jack snipes, sadly, but it was still a decent morning’s birding, albeit with a dramatic interlude in the middle!