June and July can be quiet months for birdwatching, the spring frenzy of inward migration, territory claiming and breeding now over, and the return journeys yet to start.
Many birders handle this enforced rest period by turning to other nature-related hobbies - seeking out flowers, dragonflies, butterflies and moths. Others use the opportunity to build up a much needed store of brownie points at home (a bit of DIY usually goes a long way). But whatever else they may be doing, all birdwatchers keep their eyes and ears peeled in case of unexpected action.
Yesterday was a case in point, as an email alert went out to a Black-throated Diver at Draycote Reservoir. This is an extremely unusual sighting - you don't get many BT Divers at Draycote full stop (I've never seen one anywhere, let alone on my doorstep like this) - and certainly not in the summer months. The whys and wherefores will be better explained by better birders than me -my only mission was to get down there at the crack of dawn and find it!
Pouring down of course, but what the hell - I needed the fresh air and a five mile walk anyway. I set off clockwise, aiming for the point where it had been seen last night. Suffice it to say that I had nearly completed the full circuit by the time I found it, swimming away from Toft Bay towards the Valve Tower. I was able to get good views of it for a few minutes before it drifted into the murky grey - I was expecting an adult bird in splendid plumage, but as so often I was wrong - this was effectively a winter plumaged bird. As always, Warwickshire bird photographer Steve Seal had got straight there on hearing yesterday's news, and got the great photos that are attached here - thanks again Steve.
Despite the persistent rain, it was nice to be out birding again. Other highlights of the morning included: great views of not one by seven Green Woodpeckers, all feeding on the ground around the reservoir; three Linnets, a bird I don't see often these days; Swifts swooping around me at head height, confirming just how big and chunky they actually are; and Common Terns swooping low over the water, a perennial favourite.