TS Eliot was obviously not a birder, for it was he who wrote that 'April is the cruellest month...' No it isn't, you melodramatic old fool - March is...I haven't found a thing since the first few days of the month.
Over the last few months, I've been keeping an eye on a local farm reservoir (which is the nearest body of water within easy walking distance). For the first two months of the year, it looked fantastic for waders: lots of exposed mud, shallow pools and emergent, fringing vegetation. Imagine my horror when I discovered this weekend that it had been pumped full of water. But hey, selfishness aside, it was still worth checking. After a pair of Oystercatchers yesterday (a site first for me), I returned this evening, in sparkling light and hoping for Ringed Plover, Redshank or perhaps something more fanciful like a Curlew or Avocet.
I gave a visceral laugh out loud when the first birds (only birds) on the entire reservoir were a pair of Mandarin. I admit that they looked fantastic in the light, but they were positively not what I was expecting. Both flew off in the direction of Gamlingay Heath. I know there are a couple of private lakes over there, but have no idea what is 'kept' on them.
Still, Mandarin counts as one, just the same as a Lesser Scaup would do. Seems wrong to me, but I'll take it.