I got up early on Sunday morning in order to do the last visits to my two BBS squares. The Rolling Stones had kept me up the night before which was a bit mean of them – at their age they should know better.
It’s a whitethroat year for sure – there weren’t many warblers singing but there were whitethroats. And both my BBS squares have more whitethroats than ‘ever’ this year.
My ‘new’ BBS square (Square 2), which I first surveyed last year (although it has been covered by others for quite a while), is refreshingly different from my longer term square (Square 1).
Square 1 is dull farmland with rather few birds but it had whitethroats singing in good numbers and a couple of yellow wagtails too. The prize sighting (not really for the BBS though) was a flock of four curlew flying west. Obviously I’ve seen the odd curlew before in my life, but not that many in Northants, and I wouldn’t have expected them on this BBS square.
Square 2 has lots of house sparrows and collared doves and starlings – and quite a few whitethroats too. It’s by the River Nene and includes a village and some farmland. Red kite calling on the first part of the walk was nice.
I couldn’t help thinking of the USA a bit as I walked around with my spare pair of binoculars – the proper pair are at the binocular doctors. I bought a cup of coffee and a pecan (here it’s pee-can, there it’s peck-arrn) plait between surveys. I missed being told that I had a lovely accent and that I should ‘have a nice day’.
As I walked around I hardly needed binoculars at all – my unaided eyes and ears could identify everything – it’s good to be back where I know what I’m looking at!
And the English countryside, or at least the Northants part of it, looked lovely. The views couldn’t really have been anywhere else in the world; green fields, hedges with elderflower, a slow moving river that elsewhere would be just a stream, a few cattle grazing, church spires dotted across the landscape poking above leafy oaks and ashes. The church spires demonstrated the intimacy of the settlements to each other – this wasn’t a landscape of wide open spaces that had recently been occupied but of settlements that were settled, and settled for centuries.
It was a home-coming of bucolic tranquility.[registration_form]