Where to begin?
Started early, leaving Louise in bed to have a well deserved lie-in. I decided to have a walk down to Garganey hide to stretch the legs, connecting with a very late year tick in the form of a Goldfinch! (79). 2 Red-legged Partridge were on the approach ramp...very odd...an omen? On opening the hide I was greeted by the superb sight of a group of Black-tailed Godwits (80). It was difficult to see exactly how many there were as some were partly obscured behind the bank, resting. I decided on 18 birds? Anyway, they were a very welcome sight and an excellent addition to the patch year list.
I phoned Craig Ralston the English Nature warden, who I had seen at the far end of the reserve, to let him know. He informed me he'd earlier seen 22 Pink-footed Geese near the farm. I continued scanning and bingo, there they were, far right but close to the hide!
Also in view were 3 Oystercatchers and 5 Ruff. I was joined by another chap who almost immediately spotted a Sand Martin (81), my earliest record!
I then returned to the Geoff Smith hide were I was soon joined by Elaine who I had contacted regarding the Godwits and Pinks. While we were scanning she suddenly spotted a Phyllosc clinging to a dead weed stem...Chiffchaff (82)...another personal earliest for the site! I then returned home for a bit of breakfast with Louise. She wasn't feeling great having developed a sore throat and she decided to stay in as it was still a bit fresh (the weather that is). I had another bash at Duff with no further luck and returned for lunch at 1.
After lunch I joined Haydn on Skippy to look for the Shrike. He had already seen it on Sands Lane and managed a great digi-scoped photo. We had a mooch around till 3.30ish, then we parted and I returned to Duff while he went to look for some grub at the Drovers (negative news). The Godwits were still present although I could only count 15 (perhaps that's all there were?). I texted Haydn to let him know they were still present and this tempted him to join me in the hide.
THEN...the phone went. It was Russell Slack (a MASSIVE thank you pal). 3 CRANES HEADING YOUR WAY FROM WHELDRAKE!!! (Believe it or not we'd been mulling over the chances of this very species turning up here earlier!). We both scanned and scanned...there they were! We both watched in amazement as these magnificent birds got closer and closer. It really was a magic moment.
As they flew over the far end of the reserve (83/Life145) they veered west and appeared to be heading over the village. I quickly contacted a few of the locals including Andy Walker, Darren Starkey and Elaine who all live in the village and Jono Leadley...amongst others. We then lost them as they went behind the hide. We sprinted out and scanned but we couldn't see them. Haydn then decided to go to his beloved Skipwith and scan from there (the thoughts of a true patch worker! I'd have done the same). I kept looking but there was no further sign. I did see the Pinks though, leaving to the west...
I made a few more calls and then decided I was going to check the local fields. As I was making my way back to the car I met Andy Walker who I had contacted earlier. I told him the story and said I was going to check around the village. He carried on towards the hide were he caught sight of a Peregrine...and 3 CRANES on Bubwith Ings!!! I still can't work out how we didn't see them behind the hide? Anyway, there they were...happy days.
More phone calls and texts. I then went back to the house to get Louise's camera and asked her if she'd like to see them? She said yes, so we went down to the bridge to have a look. We enjoyed fantastic views of the three birds including their balletic display ritual...brilliant!
We even had 50+ Whooper Swans fly over the "twitch"
As if this wasn't enough...and it truly was, I then received another call of Andy telling me the GGS had returned to NDC!!! Unbelievable. Has to be one of my best days...ever. Probably because it all took place within a couple of miles of my house!
So did this sighting...