Actually, November is no worse that many other months, but it has a bad press and the gloomy old sod Thomas Hood over-egged it a bit in his poem "No" , although I rather like it. Days like today are Mother Nature's way of saying "you stay in with a nice cup of tea, and I'll take care of things out here".
Catching up with records and general fettling and blogging; these are just a few of the things today was designed for.
I devoted the first week of November to getting myself a scope. The taxman kindly returned some of my money, so I thought it was a sign. I went to Old Moor on the Tuesday to have a look at their wares, but finally plumped for some kit from Denby Dale, which involved a pleasant train journey. I can't believe the luck I have when I go to Old Moor - I always seem to get good weather, even though I don't plan with the weather in mind. The highlight of this particular trip was a snipe at Wath Ings, which very obligingly stood quietly in the water remarkably close to the hide, allowing me to get some nice shots. Goosander, shoveller and long-tailed tits were other highlights of this visit.
There were one or two fungi around and one in particular which I resolved to ID turned out to be a Tricholoma cingulatum (Girdled knight), which is little recorded in this area.
Hopefully the scope, and spending more time with experienced birders will help me get better at seeing ID-ing birds. It seems really hard. I don't remember finding basic fungi identification being such a struggle, but it won't put me off, as a few kind followers on twitter seemed concerned about. It's in the same league as drawing and painting, which I'm determined to persevere with. More of this on my other (non-wildlife) blog - the multifunctional and eclectic Out of Office.
The following week I realised that the Fungi exhibition at Edinburgh Botanical Gardens only had a short time left to run, so I hastily booked a few days there. Before that was a few hours hunting for waxwings at a couple of the reported sights. I was lucky enough to catch a brief sight of half a dozen or so, but the presence of a sparrowhawk was clearly making them jittery and I was unable to get a photo. It seems there are still quite a few around the area, so perhaps I'll get another chance soon. On Wednesday evening, I went to a Sheffield Bird Study Group talk about Bearded Tits. Last month's talk by Paul Hobson was a hard act to follow, but this one was also interesting, and I learned quite a lot.
I took my scope up to Redmires on Monday this week to have a little practice, but drew a blank on birds. I did see, remarkably, a peacock butterfly, despite it being a frosty day, and less remarkably, some blewitts, which someone had picked then discarded, I can only imagine, in a fit of uncertainty about their identity. At least I knew confidently about these.
Off to Frampton Marshes with the local RSPB group this Sunday, so fingers crossed for the weather.