Tuesday, 12 June 2012
With a sunny day in a beautiful corner of the Lake District this was always going to be a delightful walk, all the more so with the 8 attenders voting unanimously for the upper route into Dovedale. Setting off along the lakeside track we moved from blackcap and willow warbler territories into those of wood warbler and pied flycatcher. While the former remained hidden somewhere in the canopy up the slope, the latter were active either side of the path, affording excellent views, with 1 pair using an old woodpecker hole, rather than a nest box. There were a number of tree-creeper and nuthatch sightings, while on the lake shore a young dipper moved along in front of us. More open woodland at the head of the lake provided the first of many parachuting tree pipits, and the lake itself 3 goosanders and a pair of great crested grebes. The first wheatear was close to Hartsop Hall, and it seemed we were into some peculiar bird inversion when the last birds before leaving the woodland 100m higher were singing garden warbler and coal tit. Redstart song was plentiful, but they stayed hidden from view until a pair gave us good views as they flitted about in the understorey as we returned. Chiffchaff, willow warbler, and a tawny owl flight added interest to the ascent, while a food-carrying wren showed us its mossy nest, almost indistinguishable from the growth up the side of the birch tree in which it was situated. Lunch on the open fell side, and we were closer to the circling buzzard, wheatears hopped about on the rocks, and red deer were visible on the slopes of Hartsop Dodd. After crossing the footbridge, the sound of the cascades of Dovedale Beck drowned out most of the bird song. But what a setting for those lucky enough to see the male grey wagtail flitting about the falls. An elusive common sandpiper gave brief views near the inflow of Kirkstone Beck into Brotherswater, where the 3 goosanders were now hauled out on the grassy bank. Then, as we returned to the car park, the redstart sighting, the wood warblers still singing, the flycatchers flitting, and the young dipper dipping.
At 3.75 miles, 550 feet of climbing, and some rough paths, this will have ranked as a more strenuous outing than is the norm for the group.