Lade - 0830hrs - cold, showery, sw 4 - A much colder morning with hail showers moving quickly over on a scudding wind. Having first had Sand Martins here ten days ago it was good to see five over north lake feeding on insects in the lee of the willows. A sprinkling of Chiffchaffs in coastal gardens and the willow swamp was the only other obvious reminder that it was spring. A few Mipits drifted over and an unusual thrush-like song had me going for a while until I actually located the culprit singing from a causeway willow - a Blackbird! The usual ducks were on the lake and two Marsh Harriers worked the fields over towards the airport.
1430hrs - Continuing on with our shanks-pony weekend theme we checked out the quarry to the south this afternoon in blustery conditions where there was continuing activity on the Black-headed Gull island along with 8 Med Gulls, while hundreds of large gulls loafed on other islands. No surprise to see several more Sand Martins pausing a while before heading north, but passerines were few and far between with only single figures of Pied Wagtail, Mipit and Skylark. We scoured the margins for LRP without success, although 8 Oystercatchers and 2 Redshanks were noted. On the lake a stunning (aren`t they always) drake Pintail was a nice surprise along with a scattering of Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler and Tufted Duck.
As we slogged back home across the shingle the biting wind picked up to gusting Force 6, a reminder that winter hasn`t finished with us quite yet. The afternoon was rounded off in fine style as I supped a cuppa char and heard that QPR had beaten Middlesbrough 3-1 at the Riverside, rarely a happy hunting ground for the R`s.
NB: Elsewhere across the peninsula today more Sand Martins were reported from the bird reserve along with Wheatears, plus all the long-stayers seemed to be in place (BD et al).