SemerwaterOn our way to Semerwater, as the road from Langstrothdale starts to drop from Green Side moor down Sleddale towards Hawes, we drive very gently through a small herd of hill cattle, a tough-looking bunch, who have gathered around some piles of rock salt at the road side. It’s the equivalent of the natural salt-licks which attract animals and birds in places like the African savannah and the Amazon rainforest.

whoopersFour whooper swans are relaxing on the narrow beach at the top end of Semerwater. They’re the first that I’ve seen, other than those at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve at Martinmere, in over twenty-five years. whooper swanThey appear to be the same size as our resident mute swan but, even at a distance, I can see that triangle of brilliant yellow on their bins. I also get the impression that they have a straighter neck than the mute, with its gracefully curved ‘swan neck’, giving them a somewhat goose-like appearance.

wigeonWe’re first made aware of the wigeons as we approach the lake by their whistling calls. I count thirty-eight but they’re outnumbered about ten times over by mallards. A flock of Canada geese leave the grassy eastern shore as we approach and launch themselves onto the lake in a leisurely fashion.lapwing

There’s a small flock of lapwings, perhaps twenty or thirty, by the inlet at the quiet western corner of the lake.

Swaledale Round-up

Swaledales have been described as ‘the hardiest of all British sheep apart from the Herdwick’.

Marsett to Stalling Busk

roe deerWe spot one roe deer running through the trees on the northeast shore of the lake and another, again amongst the trees, on the far side of Marsett Beck.

grey partridgeAs we cross another beck, Cragdale Water, via an elevated footbridge I disturb a grey partridge which flies off over a marshy field. At that moment we hear an unfamiliar piping call and a kingfisherkingfisher zooms across just yards in front of me, just below my eye-level, giving us a flash of its brilliant color in the bright afternoon sunlight.

buzzardA buzzard drifts over as we climb up towards the hamlet of Stalling Busk then a flock of 23 fieldfares flies up from a group of bushes on the hillside but the highlight of the afternoon is a fly past by a merlin. It’s a neat-looking grey and black male, zooming down the slope above the village at wall top level, with a nimbler style of stealthy flight than the larger sparrow hawk. merlinIt sweeps up into a tree but we can’t tell whether it settles there or not. Five or six crows appear a few moments later; they’re not calling but I can’t help thinking that they’ve been disturbed by the merlin.

Short-eared Owls

short-eared owlsDriving back over the moor with the sun low over Ingleborough, we see two short-eared owls flying low and briefly swooping at each other. We pull into the viewpoint lay-by and, resisting the urge to get out of the car to retrieve our binoculars from the boot, we use the car as a hide. This works well as one of the owls flies to within twenty yards of us as it crosses the road to join a third short-eared. Every hundred yards or so one will dip down into the moorland vegetation but we don’t see them emerge clutching any prey.

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    1. Thank you Stuart; I often come back from holiday to some big project and never get chance to write it up, but we’ve got over our major home improvements which have taken up most of our spare time recently, so I enjoyed adding the illustrations to the short posts that I’d written using the iPad at Nethergill (where they have no mobile phone signal but they do have wi-fi). Looking back through it is a great reminder of how much we managed to do in a week.

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