50 NOT OUT

Common Tern, Alston Wetland..

I CAN'T SAY I'M HAPPY ABOUT TURNING 50. I'm worried about getting older, especially with a bleak economic forecast ahead and I'm not yet quite old enough to simply celebrate the fact that I'm still alive. I had a trip down memory lane with my dad on my birthday to the Settle and Carlisle railway line, passing Ribblehead and Dent Head viaducts before we reached Arten Gill, the most impressive of all of them with its massive 117ft middle piers. We had a holiday here when I was a child and Dentdale is still as pretty as I remember it, probably the prettiest of all the Yorkshire Dales? We didn't see many birds at all as it lashed down for much of the afternoon. However, the ELOC area has been quite good over the last few days as my efforts have started to pay off at last. I added three birds to my ELOC little year total: Common Scoter (a drake at Rishton Reservoir, thanks to Dave Bickerton, closely followed by another at Alston No.2); Common Tern (one at Alston Wetland today) and, finally, Eurasian Hobby (two or maybe even three hawking over moorland in Bowland - I changed my tactics and scored immediately).

Other interesting sightings included: Northern Shoveler (two at Alston were the first for weeks); Red-breasted Merganser (a mother with three small ducklings at Stocks); European Golden Plover (five at the trig point on Pendle at 0430 on my birthday); Common Redshank (two at Stocks were the first for a while there and another was at Upper Foulridge where there were two Common Sandpipers and an adult and juvenile Little Ringed Plover) and Mistle Thrush (a post-breeding flock of 14 at Kemple End). For the first time there were no crossbills on Gannow Fell this weekend.

ELOC Little Year: 142. Common Scoter 143. Common Tern 144. Eurasian Hobby