Arriving at 6.30 a.m., I made my way to Mercers West Pit. A quick scan produced little more than 5 Shovelers and 4 Teal - disappointing. On to Spynes Mere where there was a Common Sandpiper, 11 Egyptian Geese and a couple of Grey Herons - still nothing to get excited about.
I then followed the cycle path across Mercers Farm, where a Little Owl was perched on a hedge and then on to the horse paddocks to look for Yellow Wagtails - none present!
A short walk to the Aqua Sports centre at Mercers Lake and time for a cuppa. Paul appeared from the car park and I said that I doubted we would see much this morning as the weather seemed too settled. We sat and watched as a Kingfisher skimmed over the surface of the lake before we headed back towards Spynes Mere and Mercers West Pit. A Sparrowhawk put in a brief appearance and the Common Sandpiper was still on Spynes with a second bird seen at Mercers West. Still pretty quiet though.
We headed back round Spynes Mere and as we reached the southern side, I said to Paul that we should head for a ploughed area of Mercers Farm, just to the south, as I fancied a Whinchat might just turn up along the hedge that crosses the field. Although I don't think the field has been sown, we kept to the edge to avoid any trampling. A quick scan and to my surprise Paul was on to a Whinchat perched on a fence wire.
Local birder Ian Kehl had seen one at Water Colour Lagoons on the 11th September, but this was a local year tick for Paul and myself.
It was a pretty mobile bird and we lost sight of it for a while so we tried to get nearer and found it further along the hedge. It then flew out over the rape crop and perched up allowing us to get a few heat-hazed shots.
A few minutes later I thought I was onto a second chat when I saw another small head with and obvious eye-stripe pop up near the Whinchat - no, not a chat - a Sedge Warbler, not exactly a common sight these days at Holmethorpe. Things were looking up.
The Whinchat then became very mobile again and disappeared into the distance across the rape crop and we failed to subsequently relocate it. The rape field is probably holding a lot of good birds but it is difficult area to view well.
We headed back to Mercers Lake but the Aqua Sports centre was already pretty busy with loads of people present so we decided to see if the Dunlin was still at the Water Colour lagoons.
Sure enough, it was still in the same area that it has been since Sunday and still along the bank close to the path that intersects the two lagoons.
For some reason, probably the lighting conditions, it looked paler-plumaged than yesterday but we are fairly sure that it was the same bird.
So, not such a bad morning's birding after all.
Graham & Paul