Following the prolonged period of sunny, hot weather, the day today dawned cloudy and significantly cooler and much more comfortable.
At dawn, I took Toby for a 5 mile walk around the Stow Bedon, Lower Stow Bedon, and Rocklands area of my Breckland patch. As with most of my Breckland patch, this area is quite undulating with some short, steepish climbs, clearly not flat as many often think of Norfolk. Very large fields of crops gives a sense of isolation and bleakness, especially in winter - my kind of country.
Walking along Gravelpit Hill, I soon encountered the soft purring song of a male Turtle Dove, the epitome of an English summers day. This bird was soon found sitting in a hedgerow with a few Wood Pigeons, a larger relative of the Turtle Dove. This beautiful migratory bird has traditionally occured at the same site along this route for many years now and despite its very welcome presence, it is sad to write that this species is declining in the UK. Sadly, Turtle Doves are heavily hunted by humans when on passage through the Mediterranean - I have less than complimentary words to describe the individuals who choose to shoot these and other migrant birds.
Walking along Stowlay Lane, large numbers of Swallows were seen skimming just above the crops in search of insect prey. Sadly, a Badger was found dead on the roadside, a traffic casualty.
Mere Road, Stow Bedon begins at the Rocklands to Lower Stow Bedon road, this is intially a fairly long and steep climb which then levels out for a long and mostly direct route back to Stow Bedon. For years now, a large muck heap alongside the road has been very reliable for finding passage wader species, mostly Green Sandpipers, which feed and refuel around the seepage from the muck heap, however, the only wader species seen here today was single Oystercatcher. Several Black-headed Gulls, and a Herring Gull were sitting on top of the heap.
The tall hedgerows along Mere Road produced the ever reliable singing Whitethroats and the descent into the village of Stow Bedon produced more Swallows and good numbers of House Martins.