At last! The sun is shining

I’m writing this post on the first sunny, spring day since the April “showers” began. What a relief it has been to be warm and dry for a change.

This week, I led another trip to Fairburn on Tuesday evening. The weather wasn’t too bad but it was very cold and it had been wet during the day. Nevertheless we saw yellow wagtails – my first for the year – and we waited longingly for a grasshopper warbler to emerge from a bramble thicket. It was getting a bit late for it to be enticed out of the thick cover and I couldn’t blame it for staying put.

Yesterday I got very wet and very cold. In the morning I attended a birdwatching walk organised by Rodley Nature Reserve. Despite the cold, wet weather, a few people joined us to listen to warblers singing. Thankfully enough birds braved the cold to make the venture worthwhile and everyone enjoyed views of whitethroat, blackcap, willow warbler and lesser whitethroat. In the afternoon, I held a stall at our local British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) site, at Hollybush. They had organised a Tree Fun Day, an event that demonstrates tree sculpture with a chainsaw, wood turning, nestbox making and various arts and crafts. The weather had really turned horrible by this time so I was amazed when people started arriving in wellies and raincoats. I really enjoyed my day despite the weather and it was great meeting everyone.

This morning, started early for me with our first Breeding Bird Survey of the year on one of the farms close to Leeds. In contrast, it was a beautiful morning with lots of blue sky and wispy clouds. As usual we found lapwings, yellowhammer, skylarks, buzzard and red kite, to name just a few, and also saw grey partridge, wheatear and yellow wagtail. We normally see quite a lot of hares during our visits to the farm and they are usually solitary by the time we start our survey work. Today however, there were at least 20 and most of the time they were in groups of between 5 and 12. I’ve never seen so many all together so perhaps it had something to do with the stormy wet weather. I hear the collective noun for hares is a drove and there couldn’t have been a better description than that of what we saw today.

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