Being a fine Bank Holiday Monday,the Harthope Valley was never going to be peaceful but leaving the car on the roadside I headed up Cockshaw Sike,and within minutes the crowds in the Valley were invisible!First sound was my first Cuckoo of 2015 ,calling from the woods above Langleeford Farm and next, a male Whinchat showing well.
Further up the hill,a male Stonechat and the usual multiplicity of Meadow Pipits whilst above a Skylark was singing.
Heading onwards, I stopped as usual to pan the large extent of moorland over to Broadstruther and beyond and towards the twin Iron Age Settlements on top of Yeavering Bell,thinking ,as always, how good it would be to spot a pair of Hen Harriers quartering the ground-one day hopefully!
Eventually a peaceful lunch stop at the top of the Hawsen Burn still,alone apart from flitting Whinchat and Meadow Pipits.
Another stop to listen for Ring Ouzel, soon heard and also spotted, sitting in one of the trees!Further down the path ,two more Singing males ,also in trees!A Buzzard flew over lazily and shortly afterwards a Kestrel appeared briefly over the hill before disappearing again.
Again in the Valley,the Cuckoo was still calling but it was time to head back through the picnickers,walkers and traffic,just proving that a just short way off the beaten track one can soon have the hills to oneself!