Yesterday, Gail and I were back in Bowland doing a second breeding wader survey on my client's farm. It was rather chilly when we set off, with a biting north-westerly, but at least the skies were clear.
Brown Hares are always a feature here, and it was a pleasure to encounter at least fourteen on our walk. As we headed along the track through the wetland complex, seven Tufted Ducks were on the pools, all of them breeders, and a pair of Common Sandpipers were on the main pool. They also nest on some of the stony substrate alongside the pools.
As we headed uphill towards the fell that forms the northern boundary of the farm, we came across a male and female Wheatear, in what looks like suitable breeding habitat. I managed to get a couple of shots of the male Wheatear on a gate post, before a Stoat running along an old ditch-bank flushed him. Or it seemed that way, and it might just have been a coincidence. I got one grainy shot of the Stoat, as you can see below, before it disappeared.
Willow Warblers sang from the hedges lower down, and from some of the scattered copses higher up, and a Raven 'croaked' overhead, as it flew back and forth. No crippling views of Cuckoo today, but a distant male 'Cuckoo-ing' was reassuring that hopefully they will breed once again on the farm.
Our estimates for breeding wader numbers were similar to last time, and we estimated that there were 10 pairs of Curlews, 11-12 pairs of Lapwings and 5 pairs of Oystercatchers on this section of the farm. The Lapwings were very quiet, and I suspect that they were brooding tiny young because of the cold weather, or were in the final stages of incubation. It's been a funny old, late spring so far, as I have said a few times already!
The forecast is grim for tomorrow, rain from first light all the way to late evening, so it's a night for a few real ales, I think. And looking in my beer fridge, it looks like I'll be travelling from West Yorkshire to the Hebridean island of Colonsay, via glorious Dumfries and Galloway!
Nest boxes on Sunday...hopefully!