I've just returned from a two week visit to my old stomping grounds in western Canada where I was co-leading a birding group with Ribble Bird Tours' Stuart Meredith. The weather out there was amazing while the birds and other wildlife were equally wonderful (I even got a lifer!).
Having finally got to grips with the jetlag, I headed off down down to Aldcliffe this morning to see what, if anything, had changed during my short absence.
There was still quite a lot of song filling the air; common and lesser whitethroat, blackcap, chiffchaff, greenfinch and a host of other common breeders were belting it out around the patch.
The mute swan pair at Freeman's Pools were still being accompanied by 4 growing cygnets (5 had hatched before I went away) though there was little else evidence of successful breeding at the pools by anything else bar a coot chick or two. The island-nesting oystercatchers appear to be chick-less and there was no sign of any little ringed plover there.
At Darter Pool the mute swan nest was empty with both adult birds gone.
Worst still was the apparent absence of lapwing chicks in the maize fields. Up to 100 adult birds were flocked together but there was no sign of any young at all. A single dazzling summer-plumage golden plover brightened up an otherwise depressing vista.
Nearby, a single lapwing chick was seen with an adult on the Flood. Hardly cause for celebration.
Despite the rather gloomy morning, a couple of painted ladies were on the wing along with the odd common blue damselfly.