After a quiet couple of days, I managed to come up with a notable feat today, completely by accident. I was conscious of the fact that I'd missed a few notables as well as a few obvious ticks in recent weeks.
I was away in Northumberland when the Garganey duo made an appearance, but I have a habit of seeing interesting stuff (I usually bump into things as I'm walking or someone gives me a tip-off) and not seeing something that isn't uncommon. It took me two months to see a Rook this year, although I have to say it is not a bird you see many of around my patch for some reason (no doubt someone will explain to me that it's obvious why that is). I hadn't seen a Nuthatch until a few weeks ago, either. It's bit embarrasing when I talk to people and it is plainly evident that I haven't got a clue what I'm doing half the time.
Blackcaps and Willow Warblers have been making themselves known a recent days, and I had managed not to see either. I was getting a bit of a complex about it, if I'm honest, although I did hear a Willow Warbler in the bushes at Spynes Mere a couple of days ago. I also bumped into a bloke who mentioned he'd seen a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in the Mercers Lake car park, a bird I have never sat eyes on before. Annoyingly, I'd already been over there and saw nothing. I was clearly looking in the wrong places, as per usual.
So, having just arrived at Spynes Mere this morning, I noticed a small, grey looking bird with a white patch under its beak in the small trees on the north west bank of the lake. It was a Common Whitethroat, the first I had seen this year. I was quite pleased with that. Then looking down at the sandbar on the lake, skitting nervously around was a Little Ringed Plover - probably the same one I had seen about a week and a half ago over at the Watercolour Mound.
So, a good start to the day. Then, after a proper look around the Mercers car park, I managed to hear and then see four Blackcaps and a Willow Warbler, so that problem is now thankfully behind me. I like Blackcaps - in fact I like all Warblers. They're a bit eccentric, some are elusive and most have an interesting song repertoire. They do like a chat.
In fact, they sound not too dissimilar to my wife. She likes a chat, too. Usually when I'm trying to watch the live football on telly. She won't give up on it though, even when it's obvious I'm only half listening. But being a bloke, it's the one time I manage to multi-task, by keeping up with the game and vaguely listening to what is being said. The faint chatter in the distance is reminiscent of a Reed Warbler going full blast.
Anyway, back to today. Graham James highlighted on the Birding on Holmethorpe Sand Pit website that my sighting of the Whitethroat is the earliest on record for that species in this region. The previous record was on April 8, 1987. I just got lucky, I guess.