I was on a loser today and if you're a regular to Birds2blog and you're fed up of hearing me going on about the Stonechats then you'd better do what the newsreader tells you to do if you don't want to know the footie scores....'look away now'. The picture - by yours truly - is of the access track from Marshaw to Hawthornthwaite Fell Top, a bit like climbing up a wall in places so don't even think of doing it if you have heart or respiratory problems, and the weather was more reminiscent of January 13 instead of April.
On Harrisend I had to search for over an hour to find a solitary female Stonechat which promptly disappeared, I just felt it had gone to a nest but despite a thorough search could find no male bird so something of a mystery there. Also noted, 2 Wheatear, 2 Willow Warbler, 4 Wren and good to hear some song too, 28 Meadow Pipits which isn't all that amazing given I was here over two hours, 2 Red Grouse which is even less amazing, 2 Reed Bunting, and a Buzzard.
On Hawthornthwaite another struggle to find another solitary Stonechat, also just 3 Meadow Pipits, and 5 Red Grouse. From the Marshaw access track to the same fell top I found no Stonechats here, 2 Meadow Pipits, 4 Red Grouse, a single Wren, a 'few' Curlew giving their song and melancholy whistle, even fewer Lapwing, and 8 Greylags flying noisily around most of the time I spent here.
I was a little hesitant to call in at Stoops Bridge in Abbeystead thinking it was too cold and too early, perhaps another week or two, but it was a good decision if only for excellent views of a smart male Blackcap and Nuthatch.
So after six hours upland birding I'm back in the pulpit again now on the status of the Stonechat at the six moorland habitats I've visited in the past few weeks which have produced the grand total of a pitiful eight birds, add to this a mere three passage birds seen this spring, plus the fact we are now into the breeding season....I rest my case.