First, I made my way through Freeman's Wood noting good numbers of redwings, blackbirds and goldcrests around the place. A charming pair of bullfinch showed well and a female blackcap was seen gorging on blackberries.
At Freeman's Pools there was nothing out of the ordinary, although it was good to see numbers of classic wintering species still creeping up (14 each of wigeon, teal and gadwall plus 31 coot).
As mentioned several times on this blog in the past, rooks are relatively scarce visitors on the patch. We can usually expect a few in autumn and early winter but they rarely exceed double figures, so a total of 22 scattered around the fields to the east of the cycle track was cause for minor celebration.
My first naked-eye thoughts were of reed warbler but as soon as I got my bins on it it was clear that this was my long-awaited first Cetti's warbler for the patch.
The bird was feeding low down in a sparse hawthorn and gave brilliant views for several minutes before dropping down out of view.
So, if you were one of the 52% of participants who chose Cetti's warbler as probable next new bird for Aldcliffe (see the poll on the top right). please give yourselves a round of quiet applause. Now I'll have to think of another bird to replace it and keep the poll open... incidentally, the last new patch bird, pectoral sandpiper, wasn't even included in the options!
Close by, a party of at least 6 lesser redpoll were feeding on rosebay willowherb seedheads - presumably this is the same small flock that was in the same area nearly 3 weeks ago?