Category Archives: Meadow Pipits


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.

Stoodley Pike Monument from the Moor
Stoodley Pike Monument from the Moor

Moorland pool
Moorland pool

The wheatears will be back soon, I reckon.


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:

Red grouse
Red grouse.

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.

Speckled wood butterfly
Speckled wood butterfly.

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.

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Lizard? In Yorkshire?

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.

Male linnet
Male linnet.

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.

Lizards in Yorkshire. Who'd have thought it?

Meadow pipit
Meadow pipit.

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