May is the best month for birdwatching in the Cheviot hills when all the summer migrants have arrived and its upland woods resound with birdsong. So I had high hopes for 18 May in the Harthope Valley, given a fine forecast of sunshine and light winds. But I should have known better about the wind. We were greeted by fresh to strong winds that persisted all day and made some aspects of our birding tricky, particularly listening to birdsong. Birds I normally see perched on treetops were keeping low. Unusually, I did not hear or see a single Redstart when I would typically expect to find several pairs along the valley. Yet we still had a good day. Tree Pipit, Cuckoo, Whinchat, Common Sandpiper, Spotted Flycatcher, Dipper and plenty of Red Grouse were seen, and we had great views of a male Ring Ouzel perched in an ash tree singing. What's more, we had an unexpected find - a pair of Pied Flycatchers. A day in the hills can be special for birds.

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