With Dan sending a message yesterday saying that there were 4 whinchat on Heaton Marsh, and Pete Marsh texting this morning with news of a firecrest at Heysham, along with good numbers of other migrants, I couldn't wait to get out and see was waiting to be found at Aldcliffe.
I finally got out to onto the patch just before 9am (a little later than ideal but sometimes other things simply get in the way of birding).
A slow stroll through Freeman's Wood revealed little more than a few chiffchaff and the odd 'tecking' blackcap. In fact it seemed eerily devoid of even common resident species.
Freeman's Pool hosted a kingfisher plus the usual bits and pieces. Six wigeon certainly lent an air of autumn to the scene.
The hedgerows were pretty quiet until I finally found a pair of male blackcaps along the upper cinder track. A nice whitethroat was also present along with a handful of chiffchaff. Then it started to rain and the sky filled with swallows plus a couple of dozen house martin. At one point I could see at least 300 swallows feeding low over the maize fields and marsh.
A green sandpiper called from the direction of the Wildfowlers' Pools.
The next bout of activity came from the hedge just beyond Walled Meadow where a small tit flock included two more whitethroat, a willow warbler and several chiffchaff.
As I headed back along the cycle track I came across a trio of female blackcap gorging on elderberries near the Wildfowlers' Pools.
Three grey partridge were picking their way through the grass in a nearby field.
Another tit flock in the track hawthorns was momentarily almost exciting as it contained 3 lesser whitethroat and 2 willow warbler, but sadly nothing more exotic.
A very small number of pied wagtail and meadow pipit passed over during my three hours birding on the patch.
The only real highlight was the last-minute discovery of a whinchat sat on the newly trimmed hedgerow near the flood defence bunds. It was in the company of yet another whitethroat.
I have another day off tomorrow, so I'll doubtless be sporting my trusty optimism-hat and be heading down once more in the hope of finding something worthy of a message to RBA... wish me luck :-)