One swallow may not make a summer, but it's a start

There can be no better time to enjoy Southrepps Commons than now, especially if you can have the brilliant weather I enjoyed this morning. The main Common, the open area traversed by the boardwalk, is currently a rich palette of greens; the recently cut vegetation is re-growing in every verdant shade you can imagine. Not for nothing is it protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. 

Although we don't yet have the full orchestra in place, the birds that are here are giving it their all, led by the wrens in all their shrieking glory, but accompanied by a profusion of robins, chaffinches and blackbirds. I have been keenly anticipating the return of the blackcaps (with their sweet song sometimes called the northern nightingale), and at long last I heard at least two, although try as I might I could not see either of them. Not so the six or more chiffchaffs, which have been hard at it for a couple of weeks already. In today's bright sunshine, several of them were happy to put themselves on show. If only their almost identical cousins, willow warblers, would choose to breed on our patch! Theirs is the true sound of summer for me, but sadly I rarely hear it here, even though they are present in more fortunate nearby spots.

I ambled slowly round School Common and across the boardwalk, gently taking in the sights and sounds, and was rewarded by a confiding goldcrest as I leaned on the bridge over The Beck. These tiny birds can make themselves frustratingly hard to see in the tree tops, but when they come nearer the ground they often seem very tame - especially if you don't have a camera to hand!

Sitting on the bench half way across the boardwalk I was hoping to hear a reed bunting, but no luck. It is perhaps too early to hear a reed warbler scratching away at what it calls a song, but I have a suspicion I may have caught a very brief glimpse of one in the reeds. As all too often for my liking, I did hear several helicopters and other flying machines. I try to ignore them, so they don't get to feel important, but I did look at one of those James Bond style autogyros for no particular reason, and I was glad I did, because my binoculars picked up a bird flying too high for me to have seen otherwise. It was clearly on a mission, flying with what I took to be grim determination, and I tracked it as it flew across the Common. It was my first swallow of the year; if the weather keeps like this, it will be the first of many I hope.