Plumbers, a joiner and an electrician are wreaking havoc in what was once our bathroom and will, in ‘a good week and a half at least’ (plumber's promise), be our superb new bathroom. Radio 2 and power tools have been on at full blast. The house has been filled with alarming banging. I have been exiled to the dining room. So, on Tuesday, for a bit of peace and quiet, I left for Dad's much earlier than usual, and paid my first ever visit to the RSPB reserve at Burton Marshes.
As I entered the new visitor centre, I was surprised to see my friend Carolyn's teenage son greeting visitors. He explained that he was on work experience. I embarrassed him something rotten by insisting I take our photo and text it to his mum.
To test him, I then asked Carolyn's son to tell me what birds we could see in the scrape about 100 metres away. He pointed out shelduck, black-tailed godwits, lapwings, little egrets, and a few other species, then delighted me with my first ever sighting of an avocet. It was feeding in the shallows with sideways sweeps of its upturned beak.
I then bade my guide farewell and headed off along the track he had pointed out towards a distant hide.
The track led through high reeds, and I was buzzed by a number of dragonflies.
The view from the hide was pretty impressive: dozens of little egrets, a family of grey herons, and a fair number of lapwings.
On my way back to the visitor centre, having paused to photograph a family of Canada geese on a small lake, I turned to see a black and white blur shoot past and disappear into some dense woodland: my first ever pied flycatcher!
Two new black and white bird species in the space of an hour: that'll do me!
I shall return!