Thursday, 6 September 2012

Swale watching

During the last week of August, Our Lass and I spent seven days in Swaledale, happily ensconced in one of the plushest bird hides known to Man.

The weather, as can be expected for a British Summer, was a bit bipolar in mood, alternately dry then wet, then sunny then cloudy. Fortunately, being old soldiers at this game, we had packed for just about every eventuality (OK, no snow shoes).

We arrived mid-afternoon in persistent drizzle. After meeting Roger, our genial host, and partaking of a refreshing brew, we unpacked our clobber and stood looking out of the window. Though the visibility wasn't great, what with the precipitation and all, it was apparent that there was an amount of birdy activity going on down by the River Swale. Bins and scope were hastily deployed, then a momentary stunned silence was followed by a most interesting start to a nature-watching  holiday... Grey Wagtails (half a dozen or so), Sand Martins (scores), Dippers (two), Goosander (three) and Spotted Flycatcher (another half dozen).

I'd normally be quite happy with that roll call in a day, but for it to be the first five species in the first five minutes of our stay was somewhat stupendous.

Ee, I had to sit down and put the kettle on for a cup of tea.

Suitably enlivened, we donned wet weather gear and proceeded to potter up and down the river bank, in the rain, between the villages of Low Row and Gunnerside. Once in the shelter of the trees on the south bank, the reason for the sheer amount of ornithologicalness became apparent. The low cloud and constant drizzle had pushed many migrating birds down into the valley. I lost count of the number of Spotted Flycatchers we passed, mainly because I was too busy cursing my stupidity for not bringing a camera out in the rain.

As the saying goes... "Gah!"

Not to worry, in the roller coaster ride that is the meteorology of these isles, the next day was sunny.

No rain... and no Spotted Flycatchers

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