by on May.22, 2012, under Birdwatching, Cheviot Valleys, Northumberland

As I collected Jason and Jane for a bespoke day of birdwatching in the beautiful Cheviot valleys, the first few raindrops pattered against the windscreeen of the car.  As we headed south from Melkington the rain stopped and visibility improved, so I was sure were in for an excellent day.

The day featured all of the species we would expect; Roe Deer, Brown Hare, Raven, Dipper,Grey Wagtail, Common Sandpiper, Tree Pipit, Redstart and Red Grouse amongst many but a few of the regulars put on a really special performance.

Cuckoos were calling along the valley but frustratingly staying out of view, until a handsome male flew across the track ahead of us and then perched in full view.  A pair of Whinchat provided another highlight as they flitted along a stream, dashing from rock to rock like Grey Wagtails, tails flicking as they sallied across the adjacent hillside.

Soon after I collected them, Jason had mentioned that he’d never seen a Ring Ouzel.  No pressure there, then 😉  As we started our first walk of the day, I could hear a Ring Ouzel singing, and soon located him at the top of a distant tree.  More followed, including a pair sitting together on a fence, but probably the best of the seven that we found was a singing male; high in a narrow gully his song reverberated beautifully off the surrounding rock carrying over a distance at which he was just a black speck through our binoculars, his song was as clear as if he was just along the hillside.  As the wind and rain finally arrived, and we discussed sustainability and conservation (I really should write a book…), his song continued, although he shifted the side of the gully he was on to shelter from the rain.  A remote valley exposed to the elements, a real mountain specialist putting on a performance for us, stimulating insightful thoughts from Jason and Jane…another memorable day at ‘the office’ 🙂

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2 Comments for this entry

  • Jane and Jason

    Thanks, Martin, for a great day out. It was wonderful to explore what felt like a secret valley in the Cheviots with such a knowledgeable guide. The ring ouzels were a first for us, so a real treat – but there was so much more besides, including red squirrels which we really hadn’t expected! We hope to be back for a coastal trip in the late autumn/winter, fingers crossed!

  • martin

    Hi Jane and Jason. Thank you for your kind words. The Red Squirrel was a real bonus, as we’ve never encountered one that far up the valley before. I know what you mean about the Cheviot valleys – when I have time off, it’s an area I visit on my own, just because it’s so remote and you can spend hours there without seeing another person.

    Hope to see you for a coastal trip 🙂


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