"The RSPB are in the bird observation hide, it's fantastic!", said the well impressed member of the public to her friend as I passed on my way to the loo.
She was talking about this week's mid-week ABB event, and what more is there for me to say about it? Well, being the school holidays in some counties we had plenty of families through the centre, with plenty of very cool kids and their wonderful descriptions of the birds they saw through our scopes. For one girl Chaffinches were a particular favourite, and she may be onto something - with the splash of colour on the male bird, perhaps we undervalue them.
The bird life was varied enough to supply plenty of interest. Willow Warblers and their descending songs are the latest arrivals to promise that warmer weather can't be far away now, and Blackcaps twittered in similar hope of milder skies.
The glamourous Great Northern Diver showed well during the event, as did our Little Owl, and elsewhere around the water a lingering, lonely, lost Pink-footed Goose associated itself with a small gathering of Canadas (it's a long way to its Greenland summering grounds for that bird). On the migrant hot-spot of Stones Island 3 Yellow Wagtails were a colourful addition to the black, grey and white of the Pieds, so intense is that yellow hue the birds might have been crafted our of mounds of lemon rind.
And then there is one more character to make note of, a Weasel, and a particularly fearless one that I discovered sunbathing in the leaf litter beside a path. I approach slowly, with high caution, but really I needn't have because it soon became apparent this small mustelid was as interesting in me as I was in it, as the creature repeatedly popped its head out from the undergrowth to watch me watching it. By the end of the interaction the weasel was within arm's reach and I was rustling, dare I say playing with, the leaves in front of me in game with this curious animal that I didn't quite understand the rules to. After 15 minutes I had to break away as I was already late for the ABB event, leaving the little dude behind.
No regrets though, it was a truly memorable encounter for me, and I think if there is a moral to this story of countryside and wildlife it is this, get out there because you can get so so lucky!
The pictures from the day...