A rare day off really demanded an early start on the patch, sadly the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak and so I wandered off to the Waterworks around 10:00. The car park was strangely busy, there were people unloading things, there were children! Shouldn’t they all be tucked up indoors during the half term playing on their Ninten-Station-Wii-box’es?
As I crossed the bridge onto the site it became obvious that there were not just a few people around but tents and vans and mini-golf courses, I kid you not....Aaarrrghhh! It was some sort of Country fair, possibly even a Country Fayre!
I stepped up the pace to get to the hide before all sense of peace was shattered, as I did a Willow Warbler sang, try as I might I couldn’t see it but eventually it flew to a more open Ash Tree and sang in the open, I had a good look as it was the first I had seen this year, despite hearing a few. As soon as I turned away it started singing chiff-chaff. It reminded me of a bird I had heard, but didn’t see last May, in the same spot, that I put down as a mixed singing Chiffchaff, this Bird however was definitely a Willow Warbler. It turned out that Mike M had heard the same bird earlier.
Talking of Mike M, I bumped into him in the, thankfully quiet, hide. “I’ll tell you what I have just seen” he said, “and it’s been here since last Friday.....Red-legged Partridge.” I was out of the hide and round to the bottom edge of the meadow before you could say Pear Tree. No bunch of merry making kids were going to rob me of this most prized patch year tick. Thankfully it was still there; unfortunately it saw me before I saw it and ran into cover. This is a somewhat unpredictable, rarely twitchable Bird on the patch and it will likely be years before I see another, or possibly I will see this one again on the weekend.
I got back to the hide and heard and saw my first Reed Warblers of the year. Near the hide the Cowslips are showing well.
Later we walked around the Golf Course in search of migrants in general and Little Owl in particular, Mike had seen one a while ago and my theory is that it is additional to the Birds by the riding stable and probably responsible for the occasional records I get from the house, needless to say we didn’t get it or anything else.
In the afternoon we had a walk around the Lockwood in the hopes of Little Ringed Plover. This proved successful as we came across a pair; the male with its much blacker ear-coverts was especially smart. (#100 for the year and five days earlier than 2010) Also up there was a single Green Sandpiper (there were the regular 4 on the overflow channel too) and a Swallow flew through. Distantly to the South I picked up 2 Terns flying West, we couldn’t find any on the Southern section of the reservoirs later, so I assume they were Common.
Over the West Warwick a large flock of Hirundines stayed high and refused to give up any House Martins or Swifts. For the last week I have been banging on about how early everything, well some things, seem to be this year and how strange it is that Swifts are so late. When I got home I looked up my earliest Swift date (16th April) and realised that they are not late at all, just as well no one was listening.