Wednesday, 16 May 2012


15th May.  I spent a few hours down at Holywell with Sam today.  We were met with one hail shower, but despite being on the chilly side sunny spells lengthened as the afternoon passed and evening brought clear skies and the area was delivering its best.  The focus initially was on a little more Dipper study.  Surely no one can tire of these birds.  Well we can’t.  Despite have seen no sign of young birds I was assured by another birder that a young Dipper had been noted the day before.

No, you can't have too many Dippers! 

Our peaceful style of birding brought some extra benefits in the way of Water Shrew (my recent small mammal experience paying dividends), an addition to my mammal list for the area, and a nest of the Blackcap which was pointed out to us by another passer by, who had a very good knowledge of the dene.  He had passed the nest with the female sitting on eggs and I agree with his thoughts that this clutch of four eggs is unlikely to survive.  It was barely hidden at all and open to predation.  I hasten to add that we were not disturbing the nest which was close to a pathway, although it’s likely that predators will!

As we watched Grey Wagtails the sun shone through the trees onto the well filled and relatively fast running burn giving a chance for some landscape photography.  The lighting conditions changed frequently.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker, one of several noted today, entered a nest hole.

Holywell Dene

Instead of walking back along the higher path on the edge of the dene we retraced our steps hoping for more sightings of Dipper, but their frequent flights up and down the burn had ceased.  The Avenue held numbers of Willow Warblers in song, Common Whitethroat and Blackcap.  I still haven’t been able to track down Lesser Whitethroat!  As the evening went on we bumped into Cain S who had seen two Common Sandpipers.  We quickly located them and had a good sighting.  Not before Sam had caught sight of a distant flying Barn Owl which gave us a fleeting view.  We had no luck with a Short Eared Owl which had been reported in another area.

The patch of farmland which had provided a wonderful scrape area last year, attracting a number of waders has unfortunately not developed as it did last year.  The all weather birders found two Temminck’s Stint there on 14th May last year.  I seem to remember it was much warmer that evening.  Nothing like that today, but we were happy enough with the two Common SandpipersLinnets and Common Whitethroat and Willow Warbler were all we found near to the gorse area.  Sedge Warbler was heard as we watched the Common Sandpipers.

Willow Warbler

As Swifts flew overhead we decided that it was time to begin to head home.  More evening visits to Holywell are on the agenda.

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