I got off to a pretty ropey start, stumbling out of our house at 05.15 to find the dawn chorus in full flow. The plan had been to get to Ipsley Alders pre-dawn to see if any Tawny Owls were hooting. In the event nothing stirred apart from the usual residents.
The next part of the master plan was to head for Arrow Valley Lake. My car was numero uno in the car-park and after surveying the lake for the usual suspects I headed down the east side counting six singing Reed Warblers, two Common Sandpipers, and 11 Great Crested Grebes before hearing my first patch Sedge Warbler of the year.
Shortly afterwards came another year-tick in the form of Mark Islip. He cycled up, and was as surprised to see me as I was to see him. Mark is the main man at Arrow Valley Lake, and fortunately for me he doesn't take part in Patchwork Challenge. He has already seen a Glaucous Gull here this year, and told me that a pair of Avocets had been reported here yesterday. He hadn't seen them, but did see one here last year! He imparted further patch news that the Dipper seen a few weeks ago (which I had assumed was duff) had been seen by a guy he knew to be pretty reliable. That's another decent patch bird I have missed, the list is starting to mount alarmingly.
I headed onwards, but soon came across Mark again. He had had brief views of a possible Wheatear at the sailing club, but had been unable to relocate it. I headed there, seeing four Common Terns which suddenly, and noisily, arrived. A Kingfisher flew back and forth across the lake, and a Grey Wagtail perched obligingly on a fishing platform.
A wide circuit across the parkland added nothing more interesting than a flock of 16 Magpies, and I ended up trying to add a few photos for the blog.
After a few hours off patch, I was back at Arrow Valley Lake by mid-afternoon with renewed enthusiasm. This was not misplaced as I quickly located a Little Egret.
The grand total at the end of the day was 57.