I thought breaking my record for redstart was dramatic but a couple of brief snatches of rattling warble from the reeds at Portbury Wharf blew that out of the water. Common sandpipers had been my goal, just by Portishead Marina, where they turned up last year. I did find them, but not at that spot, which gave me my second surprise of the day.
So, whitethroat wasn’t my next migrant as I’d predicted. Instead it was Acrocephalus scirpaceus – reed warbler, which you’d already guessed from the description. The burst of song was so tantalising that almost immediately I began to doubt it. To get that species before sedge warbler is unheard of, in my world anyway. That’s what comes of living a few years in Scotland where reed warblers are rare.
After that highlight my route took me past the Lake, where I reckoned to see hirundines. None of them but there were two turtles that have attracted comment lately. And I heard the common sandpipers, which I mistook for meadow pipits at first, so unexpected were they. Seeing them left me in no doubt so they beat my 1999 early record from Upton Warren.
It’s a great game, this migration lark.