Although the trip had technically been cancelled due to lack of interest some of us decided to go any way. Sue, Shaun, Peter, Bob and Judy met at Park Corner near Laughton just before 9:30am. The weather was overcast, cool (10c) and breezy. We walked down and around to the information boards in the little shelter and noted how quiet it was. A walk down across the main heathland scrub produced Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Mistle Thush, Blackbird, Wren, Robin and Chaffinch. Some seen but most heard. We then did a series of circuits around the bottom end of the reserve; eventually a Nightingale did sing but it was obvious the cold weather was keeping it quiet. We also ticked off Garden Warbler (that a lucky two actually managed to see) and Bullfinch. Overhead were some Geese, a Common Buzzard and flock of Herring Gulls. Moving back towards the cars we walked around the pond adding Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Woodpigeon and Carrion Crow.
We moved on to Arlington reservoir, arriving at midday, and parked in the main car park. Our target species was Lesser Whitethroat, which we achieved mostly. A couple of returning birders informed us that it was at the end of the bushes no more than 100 yards from the car park, so we walked down and instantly heard that distinctive rattling warble and quiet sub-song. The bird was quite mobile, moving quickly to other bushes or flying across to adjacent trees and bushes. We all heard it and some of us managed to get a glimpse as it continually moved around.
And then it started to rain. So we headed back to the cars and had lunch, 12:30 at this point. We set out again, despite it still raining at around 1pm, fortunately about half-an-hour later it stopped raining. We walked clock-wise around the reservoir stopping at the hide, also along the dam and a few other places on the route around. It was incredibly windy on the dam and now quite a cold wind too (north easterly I believe). To sumarise our walk we had: Mallard, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Herring Gull, Great Black Backed Gull, Common Sandpiper, commic Tern (prob. Arctic Tern), Swallow, House Martin, Reed Warbler (heard only), Linnet, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Woodpigeon, Jay, Magpie, Rook, Crow, Jackdaw, Starling, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker, Skylark (heard only), Blackcap (heard only), Chiffchaff (heard only), Whitethroat, Pied Wagtail, prob. White Wagtail and Kestrel.
The Wagtails and Common Sandpipers were along the dam wall, in the wind it was almost impossible to keep still or a telescope still well enough to get views to do proper identification. Annoying as White Wagtail was reported by someone else that day. We were back listening to the Lesser Whitethroat again by about 2:15pm when it started to rain again. At this point we decided to pack up and head for home.