First a bit of garden news.
At about 5pm I was pleased to see only my second Blackcap of the winter and first of the year in the garden. He was feeding on the bits and pieces falling out of one of the feeders. A very welcome visitor, hopefully he'll be back. Sorry about picture quality but the light was terrible and I was panicking in case he went before I could record the occasion.
The sky was grey, the lakes were grey, the river was grey, the bark on all the bare trees was grey, even the Herons seemed more grey today, add a high tide and a bitter NE wind and it sounds like a recipe for a quiet day at the office.
As I walked around I looked for and listened out for any signs of Spring, but I couldn't see any and I didn't hear too many. Very few birds were announcing the impending change of season, even the Dunnocks weren't in the mood for a singsong, just a distant Cetti's Warbler singing from somewhere over the river and a single Song Thrush doing what it says on the packet. That was it apart from a severe telling off from a Great Tit along the wide river path and a couple of raucous Herons.
A Kingfisher at the New Hythe end of the river gave me the most fleeting of glimpses but like the flash of a camera it was gone in an instant but it's brilliant blue back managed to shine through all the grey.
Still plenty of winter Thrushes feeding on the ground in the East Scrub accompanied by good numbers of Chaffinches and a Green Woodpecker, I scanned the flock looking for the orange breast and white belly that would announce a Brambling but today was not the day. I still haven't found one here since I started watching "properly" about three years ago, it will happen sooner or later. On the other side of the divers' footbridge I watched a pair of Gt Spotted Woodpeckers chasing each other and calling furiously as they zipped through the branches and out over my head seemingly oblivious to me. Here at least was a sign that something had sensed Spring in the air and the rising of the sap! A bit further on into the Country Park and I found only my third Little Egret of the year at NH, it rose up gracefully from the stream edge and like the Kingfisher was a welcome relief from the drabness.
A few minutes later I had a call from Terry Laws who had just arrived at Brooklands, I told him about the Egret and he decided to walk up the Millstream path towards me. Just before he arrived the Egret flew over the path and onto the scrape giving him a good view and I believe a NH year tick. We stopped at the Railway lake where Terry spotted a Peregrine flying over towards the river which was a New Hythe year tick for me, cheers Terry and while we sat along the river eating lunch another Kingfisher made a brief appearance flying downstream and another was spotted even further downstream alongside the small wood. It's quite likely all three sightings were the same bird, but never mind, in this case it's good to get the blues!