The long weekend promised much, but the cold winds put a dampener on things. By Friday evening, I'd only added swallow and willow warbler, two birds I would have added much earlier had I had time to get out and about.
Saturday morning never lived up to the weather forecast, and by the time I bumped into Nick at Warbler Corner, I was frozen to the bone. I took the short route home and called it a day. Come the afternoon, the weather had brightened so I ventured up to the North of the patch. From the car I noticed a number of small bids flitting across a field of bare earth: pied wagtails. I got out and stood watching for a while, expecting to see wheatear among them. Sure enough, they appeared... two handsome males.
Also among them, a small group of linnet; a bird that is especially numerous this Spring, nesting in the hedgerows all the way into the village itself.
I'd noted a number of meadow pipit tacking over in ones and twos all weekend, presumably migrating onto the moors inland. Indeed, the following bird seemed particularly exhausted, letting me right beneath it as it rested in a small tree.
Along the river, the birds were paired up and beginning to nest. I'm going to check all my nest boxes before the weekend is over and check up on the sites of last year's nesting marsh tit, woodpecker and treecreeper.
On Sunday morning, I rushed out before the forecast rains and glad I did, added common sandpiper... on the exact same day I saw my first one last year!
I also managed an extraordinary close encounter with this female goosander; too busy fishing to notice my approach.
Later in the afternoon I wandered to the pub and on the way was surprised to see a common whitethroat, creeping among the nettles in the hedgerow opposite. This is a particularly early record, in fact seven days earlier than my first last year, which was in itself an early record.
Also added this year have been ruff (a patch first), little ringed plover, wigeon (another patch first), redshank, gadwall (yet another patch first - all on the flash of flood water near Great Langton), sand martin and blackcap.
Despite the flurry of new birds, I'm 2 species behind this stage last year, notably missing out on firecrest, osprey, stonechat, merlin and brambling... five birds I'm not guaranteed to see this year so it's going to be tight whether I get to 100% on the comparative scores.