Updated: Apr 15, 2018
I only had a couple of hours in the afternoon to dedicate to Newchurch Common, but again it was well worth it. Dull, but dry today and warmer than of late.
The highlight was provided pretty early on when I stopped to check the ploughed fields along Sandy Lane for passage birds. Instead of anything in the fields it was two birds flying over Dairy Farm that caught my eye and when they landed in a roadside bush I was amazed to see that they were two Yellowhammers, a male and a female. Since in previous years I have only had one sighting per annum of a single bird each time this was a very notable sighting indeed and a 2018 patch tick to boot. Later on another very noteworthy sighting was a pristine male White Wagtail in the ploughed, former set-aside field, showing very well close to the fenceline. This, the nominate race of our Pied Wagtail, has got to be one of the smartest passage passerines that we get each spring. Two Green Woodpeckers were heard on the east side of Big Pool and a Rook, another scarce patch sighting, was near Small Pool. Many Blackcaps were singing and today showing much better than yesterday. Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were noted too but no hirundines today, probably due to it being the afternoon rather than the morning.
On the pools there was no sign of the Smew, but as usual around the weekend there were many more fishermen present and she is so skittish that their presence often means she isn't seen as well when the pool is busy. Whether she has flown onto another pool or just in cover is unknown, or even if she has left with her group of Tufted Ducks to head off to their breeding pools, only time will tell. The highlight over the pools was an Oystercatcher which I watched flying and calling as it headed over the Pine Belt and then over Big Pool. My local patch is devoid of any wader habitat so any sighting of a wader is very welcome, even a flyover. This area is always hard work, but as always with hard work, the rewards are there if you work hard enough!