May 9th: Sheila and I headed off on a mystery tour to Blackmoorfoot Reservoir in search of the [difficult to find] Potato Lane. Unknown to locals walking by the reservoir eventually on the internet I found a reference to a walk along Potato Lane starting at a pub called, strangely, the Wills O'Nats. And then we met a birder and then we saw a stone curlew very distantly asleep in a sheep field where the heat haze made everything shimmer and shake.
Some readers will recall my description of some photos as 'cuckoo shots' because most of my cuckoo photos have been distant dots. It's time for a few that come close to that definition - not quite even record shots! Well, that's quite enough of that!
May 10th: the following day a pair of black-winged stilts were reported at Blacktoft. Not quite so wobbly as the stone curlew but still quite distant. Greenshank in shot too. The yellow wags weren't quite close enough either.
May 11th: 3 remarkable days for rarities. May 11th took me north to Catton Moss, Northumberland for a settled short-toed lark: lifer 433 for me. Soon seen but always distant. Here's the best I could manage...
After photos of rather variable quality it was time for something better...
May 13th: I started my day at North Cave. It was good to meet up with Stuart and we found the wood sandpipers after they had relocated from the reedbed to the silt lake. The dotterel were reported as still present at Danby Beacon. This made a lovely cross-country drive. I had been watching the two birds for about ten minutes when a voice behind me said something along the lines of 'Good afternoon, Mr. Downes!' Nigel from York. We took lots of photos of these super birds. Here are the ones I liked best.
I called at Sutton Bank for the turtle doves which showed near the feeders. I was about to press the shutter when a group of bikers returned to the bike hire shop. The doves flew off.
There's a lovely patch of early purple orchids near the centre.
May 18th: final set for this blog. I went to Crimdon Dene and beach to see the little terns. An annual pilgrimage for me although I had seen little terns in Spey Bay a week or so earlier. Here I hoped to get much closer if they were on the beach.
No sign at all! Some ringed plovers and dunlin entertained my lens. I walked back up to the warden's hut. No Trevor this year. Swallows and skylarks everywhere. Chatting to the girl at the hut I explained there were no terns. She said they had been around but weren't on eggs yet. I scanned the beach. They had reappeared having returned from a fishing trip perhaps. I headed back down. 34 birds seen at highest count. I'll finish with a dunlin: they were very smart!