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.


8 Replies to “BBS”

  1. Hi Mark,really love your commitment to British wildlife,think the biggest problem concerning wildlife today is that the majority now have no connection with farming or wildlife and so do not care.Although farming has caused numbers of farmland birds to drop if enough people cared then the pressure would be much greater to have done more about it.Oh for more people like yourself to keep plugging away,there must be many of us appreciate it.

    1. Dennis – thank you. And over the years of your comments you have, quite some time ago, persuaded me of this view; we are too few. However, there aren’t many people interested in anything really, are there? Not many people are interested in tennis, for example, and I’m not, but I’ll watch bits of Wimbledon with interest at this time of year and Sharapova any day of the week. Not may people are interested in opera – I am, and quite a few of my friends are but we are few really. And hardly anyone is interested if shooting red grouse. And yet, if we get organised properly we can recruit more people to our point of view and make that view count where it matters. That’s the task.

  2. Wish I understood F Cs comments but suppose that is his master plan,always makes me smile anyway.

    1. I don’t like mince. I have just polished off a pan of pork and padron peppers with pain paysan – but I’m not expecting it to be popular …

  3. I must say I agree Mark and Dennis, but I too fail to grasp the meaning of mince.Oh and I thought you had better musical taste than that Mark, they were only any good when Mick Taylor was a permanent member! Good to have you back on home soil though. As I type two pipistrelle bats are flitting about outside the window.

  4. You should see the spot I’ve fallen hook line and sinker with Mark, the farmer with help with NE has established a MASSIVE reedbed on his land, Common Whitethroats,Lesser Whitethroats,Hobbies,Cettis Warbler,Garden Warbler,Sedge Warblers,Reed Warblers,Buzzards,Cuckoo,Kestrel,Sparrowhawk,Little Owls,Water Rails,Butterflies,Dragonflies and Grass Snakes, beautiful.

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