Well, yes, okay – the weather forecasters did warn us! Today the Dearne Valley made Mordor look like quite a nice place for a picnic! I knew it was bad when I walked into a hide and was greeted by fellow watchers with, “Oh, here’s another idiot.”


Joking aside, it was a pretty rough day out there yet there were still pearls to be found.

Here’s the summary of sightings…

After its sudden appearance on Sunday, there have been no further sightings of the immature scaup. There was, fleetingly, a water pipit yesterday, but sadly it did not stay around for long.

The dark, overcast skies above the Mere today made picking out detail especially difficult and even the gaudy tones of the shelduck looked greyish. I’ve often said I enjoy a wild day’s walk, but this was birding by silhouette!

Then silently, gliding low across the scrape, came the barrel-chested shape of a sparrowhawk. Her amber headlamp eyes giving her the advantage in the gloom and it wasn’t until she was almost on top of them, that the lapwing saw her.

But this was just a show of power: she had no intention of attack and instead swung herself to the top of a fencepost.

After she’d gone, birds on the scrape relaxed. Wigeon whistled and teal gave out their sonar-like peeps. Goldeneye carried on oblivious, hopping into a dive whenever they felt bins fall on them.

Briefly watchers were distracted by the shenanigans of a crow, picking out pebbles from the breach in the bund where the waters of the Mere are still overflowing from the recent floods. Like something from a fable, the crow prized out a pebble, walked around with it for a bit, then wedged it against the flowing water. What on earth was it up to?

But the arrival of a pair of goosander, flapping furiously turned attention back to the Scrape. They were followed by others, a trio of gleaming white drakes who almost as soon as they landed, began to stretch and display – heads up, then snapped back and shaken.

Best seen appearing from the gloom, goosander are impressive ducks. That smart white body, dark head and serrated bill give them a distinctly menacing appearance – Capone’s mob in bird form. And like them, these guys have no intention of sleeping with the fishes!

...Maybe wild days are pretty good after all.