Monday, 30 May 2011

Wet My Lips

I can see the eyes staring at me through the dirty windscreen of the black 4x4 pickup as it bears down at me along the narrow lane. The suspicion in the eyes causes me to feel momentarily self-concious, it drips from the owner like the saliva from the lolling pink tongue of the sheepdog sat in the back. Try it, park in the gateway of a field along a quiet road and stand for a while, you won't wait long till one of the trundling giant sheepdog carriers comes slowly along, the ruddy-faced driver fixing you with a gaze that tells you he's thinking "What's this scruffy townie bloke doing loitering in my gateway?" I counted three today, all looking for a hint of guilt, questioning my motives, none of them stopped and asked, had they the answer would have been appropriate for the circumstances - wet my lips.

 A flat calm sea at Newbiggin revealed all the hidden Puffins early morning, 35 Manx Shearwaters somewhat bizarrely a single and a group of 34 made their way north. Seven Ringed Plovers on the rocks may have been worthy of further scrutiny but my sea-watching chair/cushion/scope/tripod carrying skills are distance limited.
A couple of adult Avocets fed visible from the road at Cresswell and three Spoonbills remained in a zombie-like state at Druridge. East Chevington held two 1st-summer Little Gulls, though 7 were seen later in the day and small numbers of the three 'common' tern species.
I headed inland to search for Quail. I stopped briefly at the new reservoir at Woodside (Woodside Reservoir?) a Barnacle Goose with the small Greylag flock the meagre pickings on the recently created slopes still with an almost complete abscence of vegetation.
Working west and south I found a field, parked and walked; moved on found another suitable looking field, parked and walked and so on for the next 20 minutes. Along the minor road south to Tritlington I finally got my reward as I watched two Hares from the car, the call drifted across, distant at first then closer. Never seen it continued to whip out its song from a few metres into the field, sometimes sounding closer, sometimes further away. Several further stops along the roads to the south produced 2 Red-legged Partridge and a single Grey Partridge as well as a brood of Pheasant.
No tapes were used in the search, just stop, look and listen, something I should try and do more often.

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