Paint me pink and call me sunburnt, but it was warm and sunny in the dunes at lunchtime as I completed my constitutional.
This is of course not a good thing if you are a Natterjack watching spawning pools evaporating faster than a Swallow racing up the coast, but it did prompt my first Grasshopper Warbler of the year into “song” as I walked south from Ainsdale Discovery Centre.
I got fleeting glimpses as it reeled from Sea Buckthorn and briars, but lunchtime was perhaps a bit late in the day to hope for the Gropper to sit out in the open (early doors will be better).
Despite the light winds and all-round clement conditions the dunes were surprisingly quiet – I saw no Wheatears today following yesterday’s mass arrival, Mipit and hirundine passage was light, if steady, and there were fewer Willow Warblers singing on my circuit, perhaps no more than eight.
I paused to watch one, when suddenly a vision in powder blue, black and orange caught my eye – a male Redstart darted out of the birch scrub in front of me, pitched down on the sheep-cropped turf, snatched an invert, then whizzed back into cover again.
Never saw it again, as is often the way with this species in spring, but I bet it was eyeing me from the deep, dark cover of the branches.
I sought consolation in the singing Willow Warbler, which after the dazzling Redstart, I’m ashamed to say looked decidedly plain.
One day, all lunchbreaks will be made this way….