An early start saw me at Holme NWT Reserve before 1000 hours enjoying warm sunshine. What a change, a hats off day and, hopefully, a great introduction to a week of uninterrupted birding.
I'd decided previously that I'd spend more time at certain individual reserves given I'd no schedules to consider or commitments to meet. This seemed like a good start! I'd soon notched up a couple of year ticks in the form of Reed Warbler ( 2013, 201 ) and Turtle Dove ( 2013, 202 ), seeing two of the latter both in flight and perched in fir trees to the north of the reserve. Sadly, this is a species that increasingly has to be deliberately looked out for as each year goes by. Conservation projects in the UK aimed at improving productivity are under-way and will , hopefully, improve matters, but the fact remains that hunters around the Mediterranean still concentrate their activities on this species, which does little to assist more positive efforts elsewhere. Half hearted efforts by foreign national and regional governments, aimed at limiting such activities, have done little to bring about any improvement and efforts must continue to both reverse and condemn such traditional practices.
The afternoon progressed with Swift ( 2013, 203 ) and Lesser Whitethroat ( 2013, 204 ) being seen, birders from Yorkshire bumped into ( who I've always seen in Norfolk! ), and still the warm weather continued. Finally, the female Red-backed Shrike ( 2013, 205 ) that so many people present had come to see, hove into view and perched conveniently on a prominent branch for several minutes. Great bird, great views and well worth the long wait. A good start to a first day, supplemented by a host of other species from Cuckoo to Blackap, Marsh Harrier to Avocet.