Leam Valley continues to look in fine fettle, but it was deathly quiet when I arrived. For a long while only the hither-thither jangling of Goldfinches broke the morning stillness.
Birds eventually started to appear: a small flock of juvenile tits including a few willowchiffs (probably chiffchaffs, willow warblers are still uncommon here); a male blackcap around the hide; good views of both woodpeckers species; a jay; a pair of moorhen with two chicks on the scrape. But it still wasn't what you would call buzzing.
The real highlight of this first leg came as I crossed the meadow via the raised path. From here I was able to track a female kestrel as she left the woods to my left and then hunted - repeatedly but unsuccessfully - in the morning sun. Close, perfectly lit and perfectly poised, she was another reminder (if one were needed) that rarities and scarcities are only a small part of birding's appeal.
A quick hop to Ufton Fields soon unlocked another magic moment as I watched a male Bullfinch strip a grass seedhead just yards from the hide window. Again, the lighting and view were perfect.
And gradually Ufton went on to yield the rest of the species which I think of as its specialities - several Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler, a Treecreeper, a Goldcrest and - saving the best 'til last - a family group of Spotted Flycatchers feeding around the far pool.
This understated beauty is a red listed conservation concern across the UK, and the position in Warwickshire is no different. They are still here, but in increasingly small and isolated groups. So a thriving family party is always a welcome sight - and all the more so when they are all around you, are happy to pose for a quick photo, and one of the youngsters seems keen to hover hummingbird-style just feet from one's face!
Bird of the Day: Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) - a little beauty, delicately marked and fascinating in behaviour. It shouldn't be a scarcity but it is, so will always be a highlight of a morning on patch.