Sardined into Alan Wright’s wheels, with Neill Hunt, Mike Stocker and David Nickeas, we headed up to the hills this morning and set off on the walk that everyone else has been doing for the past few days (best foot forward chaps!).
One member of the party had just stepped off a night shift and may have been a tad over-tired, but at least the loonball gabbling of the sleep-deprived made the journey up to the Pennines go that bit quicker.
The five of us trudged up from Dunsop Bridge to Whitendale for a breathtaking hour or two with the male Pallid Harrier that has set up shop there.
Now we all know that this part of the world is probably just about the dumbest place in Britain for a harrier to pitch up in, but the Pallid was a wonderful bird, and was floating over the heather for pretty much the whole morning.
This thing is a bit of a show-off – it sky-danced, it yo-yoed, it chased a Cuckoo, it perched up, it chattered above our heads, soared, circled and generally had a party.
The harrier was as bright and shiny as the bloke with the rifle strapped across his back as he rumbled by on a quad, was dark and sullen.
I was lucky enough to see the adult male Pallid about 100 years ago on the Kent marshes, but today’s bird was much more exciting as it floated above and around us, riding updrafts with the lightest of touches.
Against the hillside it was as white as a gull, against the sky it was light and kite-like.
The march up and down the valley also brought us Crossbills, Grey Wags, Common Sandpipers, Raven, Pied Flycatcher, Dipper, Redpolls and Siskins etc, but the splendour was tarnished after the news of the sad passing of Andy Roadhouse filtered through to the fells.
The great man would have loved this morning.
Cheerio Andy – we’ll all miss you.