Inspired by a tweet'ed report (how appropriate) of chiffchaffs in Sheffield, I spent lunchtime on a birding walk to find my own.
From Preston Bagot I headed along the canal (Stratford direction) and within 10 minutes could hear my first chiffchaff of spring. It quickly fell silent but soon after I'd turned and started the walk back, I reconnected with not one but two birds, one calling somewhere near and the other feeding rapidly but gracefully in the trees lining the canal opposite me.
It's a moment that never fails to move me - the first of these beautiful, sleek little buff birds refueling, wagging their tails and singing their joy after a gruelling flight of several thousand miles from West Africa to here.
When added to a tally which also included a pair of grey wagtails, three displaying buzzards, a small flock of long-tailed tits, goldfinches aplenty, a grey heron and several calling green woodpeckers, I'd call that a pretty successful 40 minutes.
Bird of the day: Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), the one true herald of spring.