Had a trip to Ingram and Harthope Valleys with my better half today. I see that Liverbirder preceded me and got a slightly better list - early bird, worm and all that.
Ingram Valley was busy with people and quiet for birds. A Cuckoo called very briefly and there were Willow Warblers everywhere. A solitary Buzzard drifted overhead and two Kestrels quartered the hillsides.
We decided to move on to Harthope, where there were far fewer people and many more birds.
Again, it was Willow Warblers that dominated. We sat and watched the same Sand Martin colony as Liverbirder had earlier in the day. There are over fifty holes and at least half were being visited. Only one bird appeared to be excavating; the others were busy with quick trips in and out and many holes were being visited by two birds. I assume from this that they have their first broods already.
Having told my better half to look at rocky outcrops for Ring Ouzels (until she pointed out that I kept repeating myself), a male, with resplendently bright crescent, was sitting in a small tree surrounded by scree. It then flew in to a pine tree before dropping in to the undergrowth - so much for my advice about outcrops then. This was a first for Ruth and the best views that I have had, as it posed for us for several minutes.
A small group of Redpolls flitted back and forth, seldom seeming to land for more than a few seconds. Mistle Thrushes put in an occasional appearance. A pair of Long Tailed Tits foraged in the trees by the river. A single maleWheatear, my first for the year, sat on a wall at the end of the valley. A female Goosander flew, first up the valley and then down and then up again - we surmised that her mate had sneaked away without her permission and that she was on his case.
Apart from Willow Warblers and Chaffinches, very few birds were singing. A single Blackbird, Coal Tits, two Chiffchaffs and few Wrens were the only others.
This was our first visit for several years; we used to take the children regularly when they were young. I intend trying to visit in about a month's time to see if I can pick up a few other species in the woodland.