Viking way long distance footpath. Humber bridge to Rutland water. June 2015.
Barton down to Bardney. Glorious weather, breathtaking views, quiet villages, quaint churches, great hiking, lovely river valleys, hills, heath, fen, farmland, not many humans, lots of ‘friendly’ cows. The wolds are one of the UK’s best kept tourist secrets.
Naturally I’m birding as I go along the way, 73 species recorded so far. Along the Humber bank and Far Ings nature reserve I saw several avocets and heard a cetti’s warbler. A couple of days into my walk nine different species of warbler had been noted. Really good to note that common whitethroat is so abundant in our countryside hedgerows, it’s scratchy calls and song an almost constant soundtrack on my hike. (Much better than wearing headphones listening to music). I estimate over 200 whitethroat territories along the 70 miles I’ve walked so far. 7 lesser whitethroats heard also.
A lot of the route is dominated by intense (very intense) farming, and as a consequence some of the huge crop fields seemed devoid of birds, though several breeding yellow wagtails were seen to be feeding young. Despite seeing lots of suitable habitat, five days walking have produced a total of 0, yes zero, turtle doves ! We all know the way it’s heading for this once common bird, but the rate of decline is, perhaps faster than we thought. It is good that the RSPB and others are doing their bit to halt the decline. They should visit some of the farmers up here, some farms have planted every precious square inch in order to maximise profits. Most though not all hedgerows chopped low.
At Somerby near Brigg a nuthatch showed, not so common in the North of the County. It was good to note that several shelduck pairs were seen on remote farm pools and reservoirs. Near Clixby one pair had nine ducklings. Little grebes seen too. In Walesby churchyard a little owl perched on a graveyard headstone. A bit further on in the beautiful Bain valley I came across the claws and remains of a signal crayfish on a farm track. A heron or mammal (mink, otter, even? (( American mink preying on American signal crayfish-now that’s ironic! )) ), must have had a nice snack. Later on I got chatting to a local who told me the river was infested with this North American invader. Saw a couple of hobbys here too.
The adventure continues tomorrow just another 74 miles to go. Still a chance of a turtle dove. I’m raising a bit for Macmillan cancer support, please donate when you bump into me. Dave.