We did lots of conservation work this morning.
It was jolly hard.
Clearing vegetation off two islands in preparation for the coming breeding season isn't exactly glamorous, but it was quite rewarding - or it will be if something decides to nest there.
Together with Mark, Jenny, Andy, Robin and two dogs, we spent the morning at Willington gravel pits (Darren's old local patch), getting the tern islands ready for the returning Common Terns. They're currently en route from west Africa but are expected back anytime now, so by clearing excess vegetation from their nesting islands, we aim to make them feel at home.
Armed with shears, loppers, rakes, various bits of wood and some all-important lifejackets, we got across to the islands in a small, white, plastic dinghy (easier said than done, given the strong cross-winds which made landing in the right place quite hard) and set to work. On the smaller island we cleared off some topsoil which now looks rather nice for waders, too...
Despite it being seriously windy, the sun was out and numerous Skylarks were singing while we worked. Around 20-30 Sand Martins buzzed over the water and there were a few Redshanks and Ringed Plovers lurking around the pits.
On the way out, EagleEyed Oakley-Martin picked out a Wheatear in a field and we then adjourned to The Crown at Northill for a cracking Sunday lunch.
It's a hard life.
Species added today:
121. Sand Martin