Lucky enough to spend the afternoon with Phil Smith and a team of Natterjack Toad survey volunteers on the coast today.
Glorious sunny conditions, which effectively killed off any chance of birdy vis mig, apart from the most dogged Meadow Pipits and alba wags.
A big PeregrinexGyrxSaker thingy high over Shore Road early on was diverting, but not for very long.
Anyway, back to toad school, during which Phil showed us all how to monitor the little croakers' breeding areas, and there was plenty of spawn about to look at.
As ever, when a plane passed overhead, a few Natterjacks threw nocturnal habits to the wind and started singing away, which allowed us to track 'em down.
Relax toad lovers, no Natterjacks were harmed during the making of this blog (I wasn't even allowed to lick any) - Phil is a fully Govt licenced toad handler, so we could get a good gander at the stripey backed critters, admiring their glittering eyes and neat scurrying run.
Don't try this at home.
I'd never noticed the brown tips to their toes until Phil pointed the trait out on this male today, before we put him back into the slacks.
The planes sparking the calls interests me - I've noticed 'em doing it before, and Mr Smith confirmed it wasn't a particularly new phenomenon, but I wonder if other amphibians do it, and if not, why not?
Hopefully we'll get a bit more rain to keep water levels up for the Natterjacks over the next few weeks.
Three Little Egrets on the coast and a nice Jack Snipe (a few hang around until the end of April) typically bursting from cover and inch or two from my feet.
Single Common Buzzard circling high over the sand off Weld Road - local or a migrant?
No Wheatears, although several Willow Warblers were singing away in the scrub, and audible from the beach, as we headed back.
Northern Dune Tiger Beetle out on the frontal dunes today - a superb beastie.
Phil found some on Friday, and kindly sent me these great shots of the nippy uber-predator.
"Sudden emergence of two of our Red Data Book insects yesterday - Vernal Mining Bee (Colletes cunicularius) and Northern Dune Tiger Beetle (Cicindela hybrida)", he explained.
"These were photographed at Cabin Hill but both can be seen widely on the dunes, always associated with patches of bare sand. The beetle has only two British localities, the Sefton Coast and Drigg in Cumbria."
Here's Phil's shot of the bee...
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...