A singing Chiffchaff is, for me, the archetypal sound of early spring.
The distinctive 'chiff chaff chiff chaff, chiff chiff chaff' call normally starts to be heard in these parts towards the end of March and continues right through to October. Today however, I heard by first Chiffchaff call coming from the bushes alongside Napton Reservoir, a full three weeks before my previous earliest record.
It was a very pleasant surprise on a sunny but cold afternoon. The reedbed at the back of the reservoir has received a rather severe short-back-and-sides since I last visited, so there was no chance of any lingering Bitterns (one was reported there a month or so ago).
Instead there were mostly the usual suspects on the water - 30+ Tufted Ducks, 60 or more Coots, Black-headed and Common Gulls, a Mute Swan, two Little Grebes, a Pochard and a Great Crested Grebe, now just about returned to splendid breeding plumage.
A Buzzard soared overhead, along with chattering Skylarks, a large flocks of both Redwing and Fieldfare, both winter visitors who will linger for a few weeks yet.