On Sunday 27th April, Eddie and I went birding together for the first time since the Panama trip. Incredibly, he was still talking to me despite my boot-camp approach to overseas birding. At 7 am, we headed north...
After showing our faces at the Heysham Harbour "Sunday Sea-watch" for 10 agonizing minutes, we soldiered on to find more instant gratification at Leighton Moss.
No otters at Lower Hide, not that we stayed very long. A kind gentleman informed us of a Black Tern at Lillian's. So off we trudged, back to where we started from...
The bird behaved itself and did the decent thing: wait for our arrival. There it was on a wooden post right in front of us. Mobbed by Black-headed Gulls, it put on an impressive display of aerial maneuverability.
Distracting us from the main act was a rather bold Grey Heron, supplementing its usual diet by scoffing its own feathered cousins. All very dramatic, but for me, there's one main thing lacking: facial expression.
The Easter holidays yielded a bumper crop of spring goodies, especially Good Friday, a glorious day from dawn till dusk. I woke at 05.50, looked out of a north-facing bedroom window and saw the Bowland Fells, crystal clear. There was the place to go...
At about 06.45 I reached one of my favourite birding spots, a dry stone wall flanking the left of the road about 4 miles north of Scorton on Long Lane. For some reason, all manner of bird species like plonking themselves on this wall (see my Redshank picture in "waders" section). Not only that, but the birds are not particularly bothered by passing cars either. At this time of the morning you can roll up right next to them, wind the window down and shoot away, all at eye level too.
After the "wonder wall" and turning right at the T-junction, it was time to check out another favourite location, a small walled-off wood running parallel with the road opposite the stream. Look out for this building and park on the right. Just like last year, Dippers were patrolling the stream and pied flycatchers zipped about in the small wood. A birding couple told me that redstarts were here last week. Spotted Flycatchers have been known to grace this area too.
A few miles further towards Dunsop Bridge, I stopped at the Langden Valley car park and followed the trail towards Langden Castle (which is actually just a stone hut) in the hope of finding Ring Ouzels. This time two years ago I was lucky enough to see several pairs. No such luck this time, but it was worth the walk for the stunning views and some more close encounters with typical Bowland species.
As I headed home, I got the icing on the cake right there on the roadside. I have never had such a good view of this species. There seemed to be many more of these around than usual (loads of pheasants too). I couldn't help wondering if this was due to the absence of Hen Harriers and other persecuted raptor species?
This weekend's mild weather was too good to ignore. Time for an early morning jaunt to Leighton Moss...