14th March

Today's dreamy expectation: skeins of Alpine Swifts coursing through overhead; today's brutal reality: singles of Wheatear, Chiffchaff and Firecrest. The season's first Wheatear was much appreciated but the pitifully inadequate selection of back-ups included just the Firecrest of note on the ground, whilst the clear, sunny sky overhead was seemingly bereft of action - where were all the Meadow Pipits, alba wagtails, Linnets and the like that should have been taking advantage of the huge improvement in conditions? The Hooded Crow hybrid was still on show at the Bill, single Black Redstarts were still about the Bill and Southwell, and the 4 Eider were still in Portland Harbour.

After ten months of seeing scabbily-plumaged birds or none at all the sight of a spring male Wheatear is certainly something for sore eyes © Phil Cheeseman: