River Hodder at Cross of Greet Bridge. Pete Woodruff.
With the wind still a chilly one when the sun disappeared, which it did very often though there were some short sunny spells for the first three hours at least, I gave the Cross of Greet/White Greet/Greet Bridge and Bloe Greet a long hard look over today, entirely on foot over six hours.
Unless your memory is as bad as mine you don't really need to carry a note book with you on upland birding, the days of an abundance of birds in these areas exist merely in the history books. Today started a little more than depressing for me as I found no Stonechats for the entire length of the top cattle grid to Greet Bridge and return which took me almost four hours and was looking like the eighth upland location to have lost the species, but 8 Wheatear were noted, 3 Buzzard sightings were not necessarily three different birds, a Kestrel, a pair of Reed Bunting, a pair of Canada Geese up here every summer according to my records, and a 'few' Sand Martins....do they nest somewhere round about I asked myself.
I returned to the motor to have my 'butties and coffee' then drove down to the bridge again from where - unknown to me - the day was about to take off. On the young River Hodder I found a smart male Grey Wagtail which set me up for a most rewarding couple of hours on the bottom fringe of Bloe Greet to find 6 Stonechat, well ALLELUIA....back from the dead! Also 7 Whinchat....well, who'da thought I'd ever see more Whinchat than Stonechat on a day in the uplands. On the day I counted an absolute minimum of 40 Meadow Pipits and probably missed at least the same again, and heard/saw 5 Willow Warblers. I watched a Peregrine Falcon chasing a Feral Pigeon? which I took to be the easiest of targets, but the raptor gave up the chase for some strange reason, I've seen this behaviour before by Peregrines and never understood the strategy of these birds 'giving in' on an easy target.
I made a brief call at Tower Lodge on the way home to find a Common Sandpiper and another Grey Wagtail, a species I've found hard to come by of late, and another brief call was at Marshaw which produced another Common Sandpiper.
The final brief call today was at Stoops Bridge in Abbeystead where the Pied Flycatchers appear to have failed to return according to my observations on three visits here in the past four weeks....but the Bluebells here are still looking good.