The first swallow of the summer, tumbling over the back field first thing yesterday morning as I opened the gate. Only three days later than last year, despite this dreadful spring. If previous years are anything to go by—although why should they be, these days?—it will be a couple of weeks yet before they're back in great numbers. Which I guess is why one of them doesn't make a summer. It's good to have them back, though.
The afternoon was glorious, with a strong, warm breeze, so I headed up to the Moor. Unusually, I didn't spot a single red grouse, although the meadow pipits were back in decent numbers, and there was a lone skylark belting it out high above me for all he was worth.
An autumnal afternoon, warm, with a hint of chill in the breeze. Perfect. Up on to the moor!
To my great surprise, I spotted a lone wheatear at the top of the moor near the trig point. He was leaving it a bit late: all his friends appear to have flown. No sign of any swallows, either. Looks as if another summer is officially over.
Judging by all the go-back! go-back! calls, there seemed to be quite a few red grouse about, hidden in the heather. So I decided to sit and wait, to see if any of them would reveal themselves. I had brought a flask of tea with me in anticipation of such a wait.
Of course, as luck would have it, I got my best view of a grouse while I had the flask of tea in my hand. But I managed to fire off one photo, albeit one-handed:
Having come down off the moor, I went through the mandatory ritual of looking over the wall into the lucky field to see what delight it had in store for me today. Just a couple of rabbits. But then I heard a commotion to my left, and turned to see a merlin in hot pursuit of what I assume was a meadow pipit. They dipped and soared, almost in unison, then disappeared behind a row of pines. There is no mistaking a merlin when they fly like that. Fabulous. Somehow, I don't think the meadow pipit would agree.
Heading down the Nook track later on, I spotted a speckled wood butterfly on some brambles. I am hopeless at identifying butterflies, but, as luck would have it, my guide book fell open at exactly the right page.
Back home, early this evening, I was taking some potato peelings out to the compost heap, when I heard a familiar clicking chortle up above: a pair of swallows looping in the clearest of blue skies. They will probably be my last swallows this year. I shall miss them.
Went on the Moor Walk for the first time in several months. Glorious weather. So glorious that I wore my shorts! And not a single other soul on the moor—I had it all to myself.
At the gate at the start of the moor, I spotted a magnificent male linnet: as red as I have ever seen.
No sign of any red grouse today, but there were loads of meadow pipits, a kestrel, a couple of rabbits, and quite possibly a lizard!
I can't be 100% sure about the lizard, as I only spotted it fleetingly out of the corner of my eye, as it ran across the track two feet in front of me and disappeared into the heather. But I can't think what else it might have been: it definitely had a saurian jizz about it. And, last Saturday evening, I heard at the farm that someone else had seen a lizard on the moor last week.