Nearly every birding trip has its star birds, the ones that linger long in the memory.
Sometimes these are 'megas' - rare vagrant birds, unusual migrants or something else a bit out-of-the-ordinary.
On other days, however, they can be more familiar birds - perhaps an old favourite you've not seen for a while, or a particularly good view of something. This morning's walk through Leam Valley, up to Offchurch and back to Radford Semele was one such day.
It was quiet at first, but a few hours of walking, waiting and watching led to some great birding. Two Chiffchaffs offered great views, giving me the chance to study their tail-wagging feeding behaviour. Their plumages were also worthy of note - one dull brown but the second altogether brighter and more yellow.
House Martins filled the sky at one point, perhaps 40 or 50, and that's something I could never tire of. A few more days, perhaps a couple of weeks, and they'll be off to their wintering grounds in East Africa - an amazing thought.
While watching from the hide, a Sparrowhawk flashed by and two Jays showed well. In the hawthorn bushes to the right I got a brief, but welcome, sighting of a male Blackcap, perhaps the most striking of all the warblers.
On leaving the hide, I found a Coal Tit among some Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit. This was first Coal Tit of the year, and my first ever at Leam Valley. As I walked across the Offchurch Bury Estate, Lesser Black-Backed Gulls headed south above my head, and the sound of Jackdaws filled the air.
My arrival at Offchurch provided the final star bird, a beautiful Nuthatch in St Gregory's churchyard. This is a lovely little spot, deliberately managed for nature (and the place where I memorably found my first ever Spotted Flycatcher a couple of years ago). Across my whole patch I have only previously found Nuthatch at Cubbington Woods, so this was a nice find to wrap the day up.
Three-and-a-half hours, 31 species and some real smashers. Time for a cooked breakfast...