Anyway, with the season moving on, I decided to take an early start today and go back to Dorset for a quick spin along the coast. Three target birds in mind, all either resident or long-stayers.
First stop was at Lytchett fields for a green-winged teal. I've been here before, in February, for the same bird and it's companion an over-wintering lesser yellowlegs. I got the lesser legs but not the teal. The reserve is on the edge of Poole harbour and it quite new. Basically a series of tidal pools, low-lying and marshy. There are dozens if not hundreds of teal lurking around and if the tide is low they disappear, which is what happened in February. This time, I had checked the tide tables though and 8am, when I arrived, was a rising tide. It was clear the difference. The teal were very active in the filling pools. The first problem, there was a lot of them. The second, you can only tell green-winged from our common teal by a small vertical white-stripe on their "shoulder" - not easy. After 30 minutes I had found the lesser legs that was still there, along with many redshank, lots of shelducks and a few water rail calling in the reeds. I had gone through the teal many times but nothing. Suddenly though a mass of them, probably a hundred or so, lifted off from the far side of French's pool and landed a bit nearer on one of the open-water pools now forming. This at least made it easier to see them, and they were very actively swimming around.
I arrived just as a very friendly warden was opening up the visitor centre. He gave me the lowdown on the reserve and with a useful map I set off. First stop was the lagoon. The tide, as I already knew, was pretty high, so not much mud was exposed. In the distance though, on an exposed tip of a sandbar was a shaggy white shape standing on one leg. Even without seeing it's bill you could tell it was a spoony. After 10 minutes or so, it did give a slight hop and lifted it's head, then went straight back to sleep again. Not exactly a marvellous sighting, but a year tick all the same.
Next stop was the nearby heath, with the gorse in full flower. I wasn't hopeful as it was blowy and starting to rain. I walked up and down, listening and watching for a small blur of feathers darting between bushes, which is the normal view of a Dartford. After I suppose 30 minutes, and with a shower moving over, I was beginning to wonder if I would dip. Then from right nearby came a distinctive scratchy song, and a marvellous male warbler sat up on top of a gorse bush.
Eventually it lifted off that bush and landed even closer to me, affording stunning views.
Finally,it gave up and moved across the heath, where I could still hear it singing away happily, so I left it to it.