Lost lambs and a lack of blackcaps

A chilly but beautifully sunny Spring day, with not a cloud in the blue sky. The fields close to the lane were littered with lambs, some lying stretched out enjoying the sun, others close to their mums.  

The high dry-stone walls shielded the lambs and sheep from the dogs, who were contenting themselves with investigating some interesting scents which judging by the snuffle holes and latrines must include badger. 

Apart from the occasional crow calling,the fields and skies were silence.

And then the peace and quiet was shattered by a cacophony of bleating and crying. Hungry sheep were rushing towards the 4×4 that was picking its way across the fields. The sheep knew that this was the afternoon food run and, in the rush, lambs and mums became separated. 

I watched twins that must have been caught up in the initial charge and had got ahead of their mum, search for her against the trickle of sheep. They were rejected several times, gently without fuss, but rejected nevertheless, until their cries were rewarded and they were reunited with mum and were rewarded with a long and grateful drink. 

Further down the lane, a cyclist had stopped in a layby and with powerful binoculars was scanning the shelter belt. We stopped and chatted briefly; he was concerned about the lack of blackcaps. I speculated that they may have been delayed by the colder weather we had been experiencing recently, but he did not seem convinced.  

The blackcap is an interesting warbler. It is more and more common to find them overwintering in the UK. The reasons for this are not clear but it could be that the increasing tendency for people to put bird food out all year round makes staying here a viable option despite the colder weather. 

 I kept this information to myself. With his powerful bins and a camouflaged telescopic lens, he had the look of an expert, and a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. 

We parted. He to continue his search for the absent blackcaps while the dogs and I returned to the car. 

I had to go to work, and the dogs had some difficult sleeping to do. As I drove off, I felt slightly guilty, perhaps I should have told him about the blackcaps in the nearby dale. 

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