I thought I'd better get my late final tetrad visit done this weekend (much easier to do when the birds are all still singing). I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive knowing that I had a field of horses and a field of donkeys to cross but I managed on my own. In fact most of the donkeys didn't seem to be there (perhaps they're in Blackpool now?); all that remained were a mother and three identical foals - all thickly coated in creamy-white fur. Cute, very cute - until they started trotting towards me!
One of the advantages of volunteering to survey a tetrad is that you often get to know an unfamiliar patch and watch it change as the seasons progress. (You are asked to make 4 visits during the year.) Some species, such as woodpigeon, collared dove, lapwings, garden birds and raptors have been present all year. Others, such as fieldfare, redwing and jackdaws have now gone. Others such as rooks and black-headed gulls are less numerous during the summer. And the spring brought passing migrants such as whimbrel and others, such as curlew and chiffchaff, swallows, swifts and house martins have come to breed.
Today's special moments were walking through fields dense with buttercups, sorrel, red clover and vetch to name but a few. Watching swallows, swifts and martins zooming low over almost every field. How do they manage not to collide? Listening to curlew burble round their fields and hearing wrens stuttering from just about everywhere. Suddenly spotting a so-low buzzard that was quickly seen-off by a pair of crow. The sparrowhawk and kestrel were also having a tough time elsewhere today. Seeing two grey partridge toddling down the road ahead and a couple of red-legged on a barn roof. Heartening, too, to see fledglings : pied wagtail, blue & great tits and seeing lots of adult birds carrying food.
Oh, I also saw a stoat running along the bank of the River Lostock, rabbits in most fields, lots of mole holes and two young lads very pleased at catching four chub.
Photos of collared dove, curlew and common buzzard are all by Mike Atkinson http://www.mikeatkinson.net/index.htm Pay him a visit - well worth it.