Take me down to the Paradise City
Where the woods are green
And the warblers pretty
Oh lord take me home
Few and far between this Spring, a combination of (sadly) genuine rarity these days and observer/access restrictions my ears pricked up when Gary Smith shared news of a singing male in the Harthope Valley yesterday.
With a free morning and the knowledge from numerous previous visits that early mornings offer a fantastic socially-distanced experience I headed up to arrive just before 06:00.
I stepped out the car to the sound of calling Common Cuckoo and the company of two adult Grey Wagtails. After a short walk I could hear the male Wood Warbler singing from the path-side mixed woodland almost immediately on arriving at the spot it was singing from yesterday. It took me around 30 minutes to actually see it, mostly due to the difficulty of sound location with only one hearing ear and a mid-May leafy canopy. Another 30 minutes watching it's circuit and I finally managed to pick it up with the phone and scope. Spotted Flycatcher and Garden Warbler were noted in the same period and a fly-through Peregrine.
A wander up the valley for the next couple of hours added two more Cuckoos, Green Woodpecker yaffling, several singing Common Redstarts, a pair of Common Snipe, Common Sandpiper, 3 pairs of Stonechat including an odd-looking washed out male high up towards Cheviot, half dozen Lesser Redpolls and a Red Squirrel.
Back down the valley in the morning rain I had my first human contact with someone else out enjoying the morning coming down the valley side in the distance, a signal to head home in time for breakfast.