Land, sea and sky; The Skids, 1979 and their brilliant ditty - Into The Valley, and it was into the Harthope Valley for me today from 07:45. As a one-time angler, the best days I recall were the ones were an important but not vital bit of kit was accidentally left at home, such a the landing net still drying in the garage Today's omen was my spare camera battery flat and so my ability to back-up my finds with evidence was gone. And so to the birds....
Thirty seven species listed, the top five being (cue the late/great Alan Freeman (not 'arf!)):
In at 5 - Green Woodpecker (with two Siskins as escort), in the top of a tree just after Langleeford Farm on the left (outward journey); a brilliant male that sat still for five or so minutes. Crackin'!
At 4 - The best Woodcock views ever, just before the second cattlegrid, on the left (homeward). It flew up out of the fenced off area as if it was its maiden flight; slow, low and very flappy and landed on the other side of the road, making no attempt to conceal itself. It flapped around in the grass and then flew perfectly back to whence it came, where it started the flappy behaviour again. Five minutes of brilliance and then gone. Do Woodcock use the same tactics as some other birds to lure potential dangers away from a nest, I wonder? Needless to say, I did not go looking.
New at 3 - Garden Warblers, heard as soon as the car radio was silenced and the windows opened whilst entering the place and heading for the car park at Hawsen Burn. On the homeward journey, the final copse to the left before the steep climb had several.
No. 2 - Whinchat at Hawsen Burn. A male sat for ten minutes on a clump of heather about 100 yards up the Burn, chattering (or whatever they do) for England. No Ring Ouzels seen though, which was very disappointing.
And straight in at No. 1 - Wood Warbler, and in keeping with the above theme, the best views ever. Close up and singing, the cheeky chappy was nimbly nipping from branch to branch and tree to tree for about ten minutes, at which point I left to trek further.
The area past the Farm was not as busy as I have found it before. No Redstarts, Tree Pipits, Garden Warblers or flycatchers, but after fours hours and fifteen minutes it was time to return to the real world, more's the pity!