Once the rain stopped this morning, I headed out on the long river loop to see what a week had brought to the patch. The infamous muck heaps were very quiet; there was evidence that the farmer has started spreading it over the bleached, nutrient-deficient field it lies on. The disturbance must have been too much for many birds and I counted just 2 pied wagtail, a pair of meadow pipits and a reed bunting.
Even the little flooded wood was quiet; I spooked just one mallard. However, I soon heard willow warbler calling 100 yards away in the little scrubby patch that always holds so many warblers in the summer. I followed the singing male to a willow tree, quite aptly, and managed some shots I'm very pleased with of this confiding bird.
The river was alive with sand martins, circling in the air between swooping en masse to the muddy banks to excavate a little more of their nests. I attempted some shots of them in flight and decided it was impossible!! Kudos to those photographers that manage such great shots of these rapid little fliers.
As I moved on I was aware there was a background noise, emanating from every inch of the ground. The wet mud sounded as though it was alive, wriggling and squirming and I imagined what it must be like to have blackbird super-senses and hear the earthworms beneath my feet. I reasoned that the noise must actually be air bubbling to the surface as the rain soaks away to level with the water table.
At the large ox-bow lake, I found a sheltered spot and lay on the trunk of a fallen birch. The sun was beating down and out of the wind I was comfortable in just a t-shirt for the first time this year. I sat and just listened for half an hour or so. The sun was drying the reeds, which crackled and snapped. Two moorhens called to each other from either end of the reed beds and a small group of linnet passed through adding a digital soundtrack to the very top of the trees.
On the lake itself were more moorhen, a dozen or so teal, one or two mallard and 3 tufted duck; my first of the year and another patch tick, taking me to 89 species for 95 points. I set myself a target of 100 species for the year and am confident now that I will reach it.