Two years ago today I had just spotted my first Sand Martin of the year at New Hythe so I had hopes of doing the same thing today but unfortunately it wasn't to be, all I got was a stiff neck."Get over it!" I hear you saying and you're quite right, it isn't a race, they'll turn up when they're good and ready and very soon we'll be seeing them and some of the other summer visitors everyday of the week.........but I don't care, i'd still like to have found one today anyway!!
So with Spring in the air and a spring in my step I set off from Brooklands car park and headed for the river which I knew would be at low tide, and it was. I arrived in the small wood with a dozen common species and a Common Gull on the list but apart from the inevitable Herons, Teal and Mallards all that caught my eye was six Shelducks, three males and three females, who were all swimming around each other doing the "Shelduck Shuffle" a strange dance, rocking back and forth on their bellies and extending their necks excitedly. I presume this is a kind of courtship ritual, I tried to copy it and that's probably how I got my stiff neck I think.
I didn't go across the East Scrub although I understand there were good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing in residence today, instead I walked back to the river with Den and Doreen where we found a Kingfisher and a couple of Redshanks and had good views of a Common Buzzard which drifted over the river just high enough to be out of camera range.
The last half an hour was well spent on the mound between the Sunken Marsh and Brooklands lake where we had a singing Chiffchaff, showing quite well as it flew out of the tree catching insects on the wing. You know the song, chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff etc. etc. etc., it does exactly what it says on the tin, endlessly.
Distant Sparrowhawk and Kestrel bought the raptor tally to a creditable three and a species count of 42. Last but by no means least was the super little critter below which I Weasily identified but wasn't Stoatally sure about!