Plenty of Birds, More Trees Please.

A good day for birds.

The day started auspiciously, with just enough mist to wreath the trees and lend an atmospheric air to the view, but not enough to hide another clear blue sky tinged with the pink of the approaching sunrise.

On my drive to and from work I drive past Barrow Scout Field which has been flooded to provide an extra habitat for the Bitterns of Leighton Moss. As a consequence, I have a brief, but often fruitful bird-watching (or perhaps bird-spotting) opportunity twice each day. Recent mornings and evenings have provided a field full of lapwings and a wheeling cloud of roosting starlings. This morning it was Greylag Geese, both in the fields and in the air. Tonight there were Canada Geese in the mere on Barrow Scout Field and a host of Curlew feeding in the adjoining field.

Although it had clouded up, as I drove over Warton Crag I could see shafts of sunlight picking-out spots of gold in the Bay.

As I set out for a walk with Sam, I could see that the sky was still clear to the east and that the Howgills were still in full sunlight.

That’s them on the horizon. I’m afraid that the photo doesn’t do them justice. They were glowing gold, pink and orange, with some very dark areas of shadow. Incidentally, I love this view, even though I know that it is deceiving me. The many hedgerow trees and patches of woodland in the middle distance seem to join together to give the impression (sadly illusory) that the many miles between here and the Lune valley below the Howgills is a great swathe of woodland. It will have been once.

I remember, many years ago, walking with my friend Valerie, who grew up near the Pyrenees. We were on the edge of the fells, near Kirby Lonsdale, with what I thought was a pretty fine view. I made some comment to that effect and Valerie asked: “Where are the trees?”

Oystercatchers often feed in these fields. Usually I see them in groups of 6 or perhaps 10, but today I think that there must have been about 50.

The half-moon was almost directly overhead. I think that sometimes you can pick out more detail on the moon when it rises before dark.

I took Sam to Stankelt Road, and then we followed the path along the top of Woodwell Cliff (more National Trust property). The path eventually takes a short little scramble down the cliff to Woodwell. We paused here to watch a Grey Wagtail. Not a rare bird, I know, but an unusual treat for me. With its grey-blue top and lemon yellow breast I think it’s a very handsome little fellow. It bobbed enthusiastically on the stones bordering the pond, flitted across the other side, bobbed a bit more, back across, bobbed a bit more….etc. Eventually, it landed on some of the vegetation on the surface of the pond and then appeared to walk on water as it moved around the pond.

We turned for home, but as we entered Bottoms Wood, the sound of a Heron taking wing from the top of a tall tree caught my attention. (Sam was finally asleep.) I’m hard put to explain why I feel such great affection for Herons, but although they are relatively common here I don’t think that I will ever tire of seeing them.

Plenty of Birds, More Trees Please.

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