I had a couple of options available today. Being my fortnightly flexi day, I had the choice of spending it birding or doing a bit of birding and showing my face in the office for a few hours, leave mid-afternoon, do the school run and then an hour or so birding.
The weather didn't look too promising with light drizzle and awful light so I left the camera at home.
Arriving at Orgeave a quick scan showed very little on the water, so this looked like it would be a short visit then four or five hoursin work. However a Shelduck on the shore raised moral, being a year tick. The Skylarks were well and truly back on site with several birds singing their hearts out and it was starting to feel like one of those days when you get a frustrating tantalising glimpse of spring. A Kingfisher on the Rother was my first of the year - they seemed to clear off during the freezing spell and a Dunlin heading south give further evidence of movement. Scanning through the gulls I picked up the 'dipped in ink' wingtips of an adult Kittiwake, which circled a couple of times before going south. This was becoming a good day. With movement evident I headed for 'the post' in order to scan the area. This turned out to be a good idea as I soon picked up the sites first Ringed Plovers of the year. The black-heads suddenly lifting up off the shore in panic revealed bird of the day - a female Merlin - which sped north with a couple of black-heads escorting it off the premises, a patch tick. Two further Dunlin went north and a cracking drake Pintail accompanied by a drab (but equally welcome) female circled, then also flew north another welcome patch tick.
Can't honestly remember a February day (well 2.5 hours) when there's been so much movement at least this far inland anyway. Oh and I never actually made it to work!