The Safari was up early today in eager anticipation of the change of wind direction to southerly. It was cold out though everywhere was white frosty, it was misty too.
As soon as we opened the car door at the wetlands we heard a Cetti's Warbler burst into song which was then answered almost immediately by another on the opposite side.
We set off with high hopes, passing the first Cetti's Warbler, a Chaffinch and a Blackcap singing in the hedge. Further away Blackbirds and Song Thrushes sang heartily.
Nearer the reserve we began to hear Chiffchaffs but in the distance did we hear a Grasshopper Warbler? We stopped and listened - nothing, walking on a little further we thought we heard it again and stopped - nothing - - we put it down to either losing our hearing a bit or we were just catching the trill at the end of a Wren's song.
It was cold and we wished we'd worn a hat. We don't think anyone would have been sitting on this well frosted bench in a hurry.
It took a while for us to hear the morning's first Willow Warbler whereas there were several Blackcaps. Lancashire's earliest Reed Warbler was still where we'd left him last week but all the Teal on the scrape were still Teal - not a Garganey to be seen, not were there any waders of any description over there either.
It was all becoming a little disappointing the anticipated opening of the migrant floodgates hadn't materialised.
We wandered as far as the bridge passing more singing Cetti's Warblers but no more Reed Warblers and no sign of any Sedge or Grasshopper Warblers. Two silent Reed Buntings perched atop the reeds 30 or so yards apart did their best to break the monotony.
Retracing our steps back down the embankment we picked up a Sparrowhawk at about double tree-top height making its way steadily north until it was out of sight over the ridge. Quarter of an hour later it or a second was soaring over the mere being mobbed by about 15 Sand Martins. some of the martins dropped to feed low over the water and we went to the viewing platform in the nope they would be close enough for the lens but by the time we got there they'd lifted off, joined their chums and done a bunk.
So that was about the sum of it. And then we read this later this arvo "Despite the weather, today did not live up to expectation bird wise but it was beautiful day on the islands". from today a little way down the coast at Hilbre Island - so it wasn't just us! But we did see on the Bird Club sightings page that a Grasshopper Warbler had been heard on the nature reserve - not where we thought we'd heard ours but much later so it could have moved or was it the Two Bird Theory - did we or didn't we???
Back at Base Camp after breakfast we did a bit of work in the garden enjoying the lovely warm sunshine. A Blackcap sang from a nearby neighbour's garden and a Buzzard soared the wrong way low over the roof-tops. The gulls alerted us to the presence of a raptor and we grabbed the camera but took so long looking the way it should have been going that we only just caught up with it before it disappeared behind the chimney pots.
The warm sun was always likely to bring out some insects so we had the macro lens handy. The first butterfly of the year fluttered through the garden, a Speckled Wood, unfortunately it didn't stop. Strange to think that they've only been in the area for a fraction over 20 years, they're so common now. A very mobile hoverfly was flitting around the climbing roses but again didn't perform for the camera.
A giant queen Buff Tailed Bumble Bee had to be rescued from the dining room and later a queen Red Tailed Bumble Bee was the first of its kind we've seen this year.
Far easier to get a pic of provided the wind didn't pick up too much were our Cowslips in the pot by the back door.
Where to next? Working tomorrow but we should be able to get out early again for an hour or so.
In the meantime let us know who's not turning up when expected in your outback.