Catch-up

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Pairs have returned and are re-establishing old boundaries

Having written about a slow start to the spring last week, it was a relief to find things well advanced when I arrived yesterday morning at 5am. Curlews flew in broad circles over the moss, whooping almost constantly and rising to steep fluttering climaxes in the first glow of sunrise. Watching them display, it occurred to me how fantastic the view must be for them from that angle, with most of the Southern Uplands spread out in a single swathe beneath them. But I daresay the scenery was of little interest to them as two birds flew in affectionate tandem and an angry dispute between two others was hashed out amidst trilling alarms and an angry chase.

It is extraordinary how quickly natural processes can catch up after a long delay, and these birds have hit the ground running. The only strange absence was any meaningful input from the snipe. I only heard a single bird drum once in over an hour on the hill, and I am seeing very few on the ground when I am checking traps. There is some of that beautiful chacking sing-song call from birds on the ground, but the aerial displays have been almost totally absent since late March.

In their place, golden plover continue to pass through in good numbers. I caught sight of several birds in my binoculars yesterday morning as they rushed in a curious loop across the glen. Their black tummies cast a strong impression against an ocean of pink-lit grass and rushes.

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