21 September 10:10 - 14:50
Sunny Warm Breezy
Number in Party 7
The lucky seven saw a Champion day on Champion Moor. The weather couldn't have been better for walking, warm and sunny with a slight chill in the fresh northerly breeze. As we approached the SSSI we had a feeling it wasn't going to disappoint. Walking down the single-track country lane towards the footpath where a large flock of meadow pipit plunged into the field next to us, their parachute-like wings guiding them with precision into the long grass and safely out of sight. On the perimeter of the field, a pair of Stonechat busily fed amongst the Dry Stone Walls.
We had barely climbed over the gate when a pair of Raven chose to scold a Buzzard resting on the wall and a right old tussle ensued as the Buzzard was not for moving, the aerial acrobatics from the Ravens though soon won the day and forced the Buzzard to seek refuge elsewhere. Heading on a horde of little brown jobs set down fifty to sixty yards in front of us. Stopping to determine what they were was a bit of a challenge as they bobbed up and down in the meadow. They turned out to be a mix of Linnet and Goldfinch with siblings. Their identification was made a little easier when they flew to the top of the dry stone. Suddenly, a cry of Hobby! went up, as it came from out of the blue and rose for good views as it flew into the valley beyond. Still in view and the heart rate up from the excitement, another shout rang out! Hen...nnn Harrier...rrr!! a silver-grey male teased us on the skyline before it disappeared over the boundary wall. We scoured the area where it vanished along the top of the wall when a Buzzard caused more tension as it came into the fray. Not knowing where to look for best a Kestrel then decided to join us, where they had come from at that moment in time, Who knows! The excitement wasn't over yet as we caught up with the Hen Harrier briefly before it vanished again into the ether. Bustling with excitement we decided to move on, if only to get the heart rate down to double-digits again, chatting over what had just happened our delighted voices rang out over the field only to disturb a pair of Barn Owls, I don't know who was more shocked as they both flew in front of us and out of sight over the hedge.
We then decided to head south down the path to the roadside where we disturbed a Tawny Owl from his rest. Continuing onto a barn in the distance where we were able to get our breathe back and have our sandwiches, there was common snipe in the adjacent field and a male Kestrel waiting for us on the roof as we approached the barn. Exploring the tree line around the barn gave a pair of Sparrowhawk spiralling above the Łwoods. Back on the road once more there we were never short of a Buzzard or two flying in the distance. Closer to us along the hedgerows, the wild-flowered hedges had seen better days, the onset of Autumn well upon us, giving up there fruits and seeds to the season. My interest was taken by one of the many garden spiders Araneus diadematus whose webs covered almost ever other plant along the hedge, it was busily making its intricate web among the available flower stems.
Back into the fields, we were escorted across them buy a herd of curious friendly cows, shepherding us onto Holloway, an ancient pathway, before a bit of a steep climb back onto the moor. Here the fields were boggy in parts and were full of lesser spearwort, well suited to these damp meadows. Wheatear played hide and seek with us amongst walls, giving us great views when we found them.
Finally, back to the cars the day seemed to go in a flash, this champion day on champion moor.