Bev's best friend, Jayne, lives in the South Yorkshire village/town of Thorpe Hesley. It's junction 35 of the M1, thus two-hundred & fifty miles away from Ramsgate. When Bev learned of the birth of Jayne's second grandchild there was nothing I could say, or do, which would stop us travelling so Bev could spend time with, Harry Joshua, the latest addition to our Christmas present list!! To be fair, I don't mind these types of events as it means I get to wander around places and environments which are well outside of my normal routine. So on Tuesday, we drove up to Jayne's place, having pre-booked a night in The Premier Inn, Meadowhall. (I don't care how much Sir Lenny Henry raves about the brand, this was possibly the worst experience I've ever had at such a place! If you do need to spend a night around the Meadowhall area, then the Travelodge is a far superior option - rant over) We arrived in Thorpe Hesley just after 14.15 hrs and the girls quickly arranged to drive over to see the baby. "Did I want to come?"
I quickly explained that I knew what a baby looked like and would, instead, be perfectly happy to take a wander along the Trans Pennine Trail down towards Barley Hall Stables. It's a nice woodland walk, although running alongside the M1, very noisy. It wasn't too productive from a birding perspective and I discovered myself looking at fungi instead. I don't have the first idea as to what they are called, but can't deny the fun I had whilst playing around with the camera.
On Wednesday morning, Bev & I having endured our night in The Premier Inn, all three of us went for breakfast at The Wetherspoons, in Meadowhall. By the time we'd finished fannying around it was almost mid-day and the girls went off to do what they do best - shopping! I had a wander along the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal which is also part of the Trans Pennine Trail. Once again birdlife was a bit limited, but I did see several Kingfishers, a Grey Wagtail and a Sparrowhawk amongst the more mundane species.
At this point I must say that the Yorkshire folk, whom I encountered whilst on my walk, were far more friendly than their southern counterparts. I had several pleasant exchanges with dog walkers and cyclists as I made my way along the tow path. One young guy, who was cycling to work, stopped to feed the Mute Swans I was already watching. All three of them were colour ringed and I asked him if he had reported them? He said that, although he fed them regularly, he hadn't noticed their rings! Bloody hell, they were bright yellow. I set about getting images of the rings as he pedalled off towards his place of employment. I then went on to find another Mute Swan, again colour ringed, although this time with a red one.
I've had a quick look at Euring website but have to say that it is far more complicated than it used to be and have now given up attempting to find a contact for reporting these birds. So after our whistle-stop visit we arrived back home just before 20.00 hrs and I quickly decided that I'd get down the river early door this morning. Kit was already prepared, I just required to grab a few deadbaits from the freezer and load the van.
So it was just after 06.00 hrs that I parked up and had two baits in position within half an hour. Eels proved to be a right pain for that first hour, although I did manage to land my third Pike of the campaign - another "jack" of six/seven pounds. A spectacular dawn was deceptive as it pissed down later, however, not before I got another self-found year tick in the form of Common Crane.
I knew the bird had been watched flying into roost in the reedbed over at Grove Ferry NNR. Therefore it might be possible to spot, if it was still present, as it flew out towards the Chislet Marshes, from my chosen section of the river. Not twitched, so it counts for me.