1. Where to go? It's an odd spring, lots of some migrants, but very few of some others. Garganey are here in numbers particularly at the traditional site of RSPB Lakenheath and its Washlands, so that seemed like a good place to go.
I still remember my first Garganey at Fairburn Ings in May 1977. There is something wonderfully uplifting about the arrival of this fabulously patterned bird. No spring is complete without a decent sighting of this exotic fowl. How different to the autumn when the detection of the dull brown duck amongst so many other dull brown ducks is one for the enthusiast.
2. The Washlands. Once the mist had lifted and the sun beat down out of a clear blue sky the splendour of this large pool was revealed. Birds everywhere. Still plenty of Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall, with a smattering of Shelducks all resplendent, Black-Tailed Godwits everywhere (78 in total) with some in emerging brick red, and 53 Avocets. Small parties of Snipe and Redshank added to the mayhem. Careful scanning with the scope (and some helpful guidance from a regular here) added the hoped for Garganey; 4 males and at least 3 females, and finally a Little Ringed Plover, a Dunlin, and 5 Ruff.
3. The walk to Joist Fen along the river was excellent. Highlight was a Water Pipit which kindly flew in. Now in fantastical summer plumage, all peach and slate with a bright yellow leg ring on the left leg. 20 Redwings and 13 Fieldfares moved through, a sky dancing Marsh Harrier, constant Stonechats (I think about 3 pairs along this stretch) and then a flock of 100 Golden Plover high over the Norfolk side of the river.
4. Joist Fen. Over the years I must have spent many hours here gazing out over a vast red bed hoping for a glimpse of the breeding Cranes without any success at all. But today the two resident pairs put on a decent, if distant show, flying around at frequent intervals. Circling up like some lumbering cargo plane slowly gaining hight, then gliding down to some favoured spot to presumably feed.
When the Cranes weren't in sight we had 9 more Marsh Harriers, an obliging Water Rail, a Bearded Tit, and lots of resplendent Reed Buntings.
5. Great to have the full trio back with Mike and David. Always a top day out when we get together. An excellent start to spring.