Ended up going for a quickish spin round the reserve with, you guessed it, the fiancée this afternoon. Seem to be spending a lot of time with her lately. Can't think why. Good thing she likes long walks in the country.
Bumped unexpectedly into a sweary local birder who was getting cold outside the visitors' centre looking for some Goldeneye that turned out to be round the corner about half a mile upriver. He caught up with them eventually. In the meantime we settled in with tea, bacon/sausage sandwich and cake. Try the homemade blueberry cake, it is NOM.
Started by heading clockwise round to the new hide, with fiancée picking up a Water Vole on the way. A Kestrel got me all excited by being a distant and high-altitude bird of prey around the area the Hen Harrier was last seen yesterday, but once I actually got the bins on it it was not to be. We sat and picked through gulls and waders for a while. Loads of Black Headed, a few Common and some indeterminate young brown ones which I really will learn to tell apart some day. Waders were a bit more interesting. The usual hundreds of Lapwing, three or four sleepy Redshank, a single Ruff wandering up and down and a Knot doing much the same. True counts were made difficult by a regular and unexplained shuffling of the deck as everything went up and came back down again thirty seconds later. I suspect they knew everyone was looking for the Hen Harrier and wanted to keep us on our toes. A couple of hundred Wigeon were grazing on the grassland, but the smartest Wildfowl out there was a male Pintail dipping for food.
Managed to get round the north reedbeds without hearing a single Cetti's, and apart from another flock of 15 or so Redshank during a quick stop in the Ken Barrett hide there wasn't much else that was exceptional out there. We walked back past the forest feeder and I was surprised by both the Bumble Bee, which I thought was early, and the two Redwing, which I thought were late, so I'm not convinced that spring is here quite yet. Getting very close though.
Nice to get out there and give the scope a run out again. Even if I'd taken the camera you wouldn't have got much out of today, it was all a bit distant. So I'm going to shamelessly steal someone else's.