A clear, starry, sky overnight led to a beautiful bright morning with a crisp frosty crunch underfoot. Heading out into the Ouse Valley, with a stunning blue sky overhead I couldn't think of a better way to spend my 41st birthday (obviously in the loving embrace of my family but work and school gets in the way there) beautiful scenery, great birds and some peace and quiet.
As we looked out across the fields and marshes, a couple of wintering Marsh Harrier could be seen as they quartered the drainage ditches, the golden headed female slowly making her way tantalisingly close before once again drifting off into the marshes. On several fence posts Buzzard could be seen perched in anticipation, while some of my old favourites Stonechats flew between rough patches.
The wind was whipping across the Ouse Valley, cold and purposeful; The clouds scudding across the sky, creating fast moving patches of sunlight; Trees bent and swayed to the will of the wind; Storm Ewan had followed Doris and was now sweeping across the UK.
Blue skies stretched out across the Ouse Valley, a picture of azure punctured by the occasional fluffy white cloud. While the sky looked like mid summer a cold wind still whipped across the floodplains of the Ouse, and in the shadows a light frost could be found. Today was every bit the start of spring, cold but bright, awaiting the arrival of summers migrants but residents in full song. A perfect day for a walk around the Flood plain Forest Nature Reserve.
From here on out the days start to be longer than the nights, yup, today is officially the first day of Spring, the vernal equinox, and you could really tell, as a sheet of grey covered the sky, and light rain constantly fell! When will the sarcasm font be invented? Overnight there was heavy rain, although it had calmed down by the time I entered the patch I was taking no risks today, so was fully waterproofed as I began my walk today.
Crystal clear, endless, blue skies stretched out across Milton Keynes today, and I hadn't been for a patch walk in ages, so what better way to spend my morning that spending time under those blue skies and wandering the Floodplain Forest paths exploring the patch and searching for spring migrants.
With Chiffchaff and Blackcap singing all around me as I walked it felt like today would be a good day, and I wasn't far wrong, strolling along the river I spotted a lone tern hawking the camp site lake, and on closer inspection, rather than the common tern I was expecting it turned out to be the very similar Arctic Tern (presumably the same bird seen by another local yesterday), a great passage bird, especially when you consider this bird will have flown up from Antarctica just to stop by here, before heading further north to breed and then will return south later in the year.
As I walked over the brow of the hill below the old Wolverton church the vista of the Ouse valley stretched out before me, the bright sunshine and blue skies welcoming me back to the patch, yet you'd be forgiven for thinking it was December with the way the freezing wind was blowing through.