Saturday 18 April 2020

Lockdown Day 26 - First Swallows of the Summer!

Another cycle ride today, a little bit further than yesterday and to be honest a little bit more focused on the exercise rather than the wildlife spotting!

However, there were a few interesting sightings as we cycled over as far as Hessay and Moor Monkton. First of all when cycling through Catterton - which often seems to be a good place to see wildlife - two curlew were chasing off a crow in a field and making quite an alarm call while they did this! As usual, the hedgerows had many Chaffinches, Blue Tits, Dunnocks, Robins and other small birds including a couple of Yellowhammers. Chaffinches always seem the most raucous! At various points during the ride, Blackcaps could be heard in the trees, they usually choose a high branch and take some finding even at the moment where there are few leaves on the trees.

When we were cycling through Hessay - a small village near York - there were two Swallows on the telegraph wires - first ones I have seen this year! Now, one  Swallow does not a summer make (or even two), a remark which has been attributed to Aristotle back in the 4th Century BC! (

As we were waiting for the level crossing gates to open at the Moor Monkton crossing on the York-Harrogate railway line (and reflecting on - given how the train services have been reduced - how unlucky we were to have to wait for one!) we watched a Lapwing diving and soaring over a field then fly over to chase some crows.

Coming back past Rufforth airfield two Mallard ducks were sitting in the grass verge completely unconcerned - or maybe too lazy - to move as we rode past and near what is known as Normans Farm two Shelduck flew over which given that this is quite some way from a lake or major river was rather unexpected.

So, even during what was a leisurely ride through the countryside, there were twenty-six species of bird, and a hare running across a field too! Now that a lot of grass verges are being left uncut in Spring there are - it seems to me anyway - an increasing number of wildflowers present which can only be good news for pollinators and biodiversity generally The wild garlic in woodlands is now coming into flower and releasing the distinctive smell in among carpets of bluebells.

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