On Friday the winds had abated, so we were able to stick with the original location, which we hadn't visited for nearly a year. It seemed very bleak at first with the hedgerows yet to grow over, and bare fields all over the place. Immediately after crossing the railway line we saw a Curlew in a field and heard and then saw a Yellowhammer on our right. When we reached the first bend a distant singing Marsh Tit could be heard, but it was too far to locate visually.
Female Chaffinch with Dog Hair
We turned left at the burbling, clear stream, and at first everything seemed dead with an apparently empty bare field. However, this had been recently tilled, and the overnight shower must have made it desirable, because on closer inspection we could see a few Linnets, and plenty of Pied & White Wagtails. In the afternoon most of these had moved on, but there were some fighting male Yellowhammers down there instead. It won't be too long before there are warblers down there too. Also here was a single Meadow Pipit, and a particularly red Linnet.
Jay Heading North
Record Shot of Bright Male Linnet
After travelling to the bottom of the lane and back we turned left and continued down to the river bank. As we reached the point were there are hedgerows on both sides the sun came out, and it actually became fairly warm. We stopped to watch a Blackcap feeding on some recently-opened umbellifer leaves next to the path. Like the bird earlier in the week, this Blackcap refused to burst into its mellifluous song. Suddenly a strident Cetti's Warbler burst into its less musical deafening song next to where we were standing. There were a couple of brief views as it disappeared into cover in a bramble patch, but then a few minutes later it flew right across the path behind us towards an eastern pool, and as it did so, Val got an excellent view of its fanned out wings and its fairly long tail. She whipped out her pocket guide to see an image of the very view she had just witnessed. We also saw a pair of Marsh Tits searching for food among the buds of the Ash tree.
Record Shot of Kingfisher
There were plenty of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs feeding on insects along the hedgerows, but the largest surprise were a couple of Jays, which were following the eastern hedge down towards the river. However, they U-turned at the estuary and landed in some White Poplars. It was when they were well spaced out in these trees in a shat of sunlight that it was possible to see that there were a total of five. Although they were a long way off the sunshine ensured that everyone was able to see the unique combination of colours of this species. They were last seen heading off north, and their place was taken by a pair of Magpies.
At the riverbank we heard some high-pitched whistles, and sure enough we saw a Kingfisher flying low over the water. After lunch we saw it flying towards the bank with a fish in its beak, but it spotted us, and took evasive action flying beyond a yellow buoy and disappearing into another corner of the lake.
In the afternoon we heard a Sedge Warbler, and it was while we were looking for this that Barbara spotted a bird drying itself after having a wash. It was in thick cover, so was quite difficult to see clearly at first. However, as its feathers became a little drier it came out more & more into the open, and it was then we could all see it was our first Whitethroat of the year.
This was the first visit of the week that wasn't to an actual official nature reserve. However, the birds seen were of a very high quality, and both sessions were very satisfying to the participants.