The photograph is of the desolation - though beautiful - which faces you as you walk up the Hawthornthwaite access track. In the two hours up here today I was very fortunate not to have recorded a blank on the one species I was 'after' but I saw a distant bird which immediately took off to fly to the other side of the fell, but my luck was in when I picked out the bird across the deep gully soon joined by its mate to make a pair of Stonechat. I've found only one other bird up here in three visits this year being a female on 13 April, and with today's two apparently unaccompanied birds the result is a no breeding record on this west side of Hawthornthwaite Fell in the area I cover, or indeed on the east side which was to follow.
I had six Buzzard sightings but with just two seen together at one point I gained no hard evidence of more than these two seen. Probably 60 Meadow Pipits over with c.30 showing distaste to a Buzzards soaring presence. I found my first Small Copper of the year, a butterfly which flies for eight months in the year March-October and we're eight and a half months into 2010 before my first, also a single Peacock....Alleluia!
As I went through the gate at the access track from Marshaw to Hawthornthwaite Fell I went to the back side of the small plantation to find a bit of bird movement and counted 4 Coal Tit, 2 Willow Warbler, and a Nuthatch, but the best was to come when I found what was at least fifteen very mobile birds the majority of the number was made up of 8 Spotted Flycatchers including young being fed....an excellent record and I never thought I would ever be 'surrounded' by Spotted Flycatchers. Two hours spent in the area from the track with a few diversion was a bit of an anti-climax as I found no Stonechats, saw a Buzzard, just 2 Meadow Pipits, and a Peacock butterfly.
Over a ten year period the peak count of Stonechats on Hawthornthwaite Fell from the west side access track was of 13 birds on 22 August 2007, and from the east side access track a count of 14 birds on 4 July 2008. So a total of 27 Stonechats on this fell alone in these two counts compared to just two birds seen today is conclusive evidence of the virtual 'loss' of the Stonechat on Hawthornthwaite Fell.