Report on Cheviot Hills Day Tour in April 2007

Six of us joined Mark and Dave on a beautiful cool
spring morning in the Harthope Valley. We were greeted by a cuckoo calling and the rusty voice of the red grouse followed by a mistle thrush high above us, chasing off a sparrowhawk that in turn had flushed a male Ring Ouzel. Not a bad start!

A grey wagtail with its vivid yellow breast and later a whinchat posed long enough for a great close ups, especially through the telescope.

As we walked up the valley following the stream, the sun warmed the clear air and brought out the bees, butterflies and swallows. Later we saw a beautifully marked adder enjoying the sun.

The only sounds were the curlews, woodland birds, the stream, bleating of the sheep and lambs as well as a tractor! The hills and fresh green of the trees were spectacular.

We now think we can tell the difference between the song of a willow warbler and chaffinch and recognise a chiffchaff calling. I would not swear to knowing a tree pipit from a meadow pipit though.

It took persistence to see a redstart and blackcap but Mark's eagle eyes managed both. We could not track down the green woodpecker but at least we heard its yaffle.

As we left the more sheltered Happy Valley and the scent of gorse in flower we had a farewell from a buzzard and goosanders.

We resisted a snooze in the warmth of the Tankerville Arms for tea and a recap - a great day out in stunning countryside.

Sheila, Newcastle

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