Nice Reed Bunting shot by Mike Richards/RSPB Images which came with the following press release from Jen Walker up at Silverdale...
"Many people believe that listening to bird song is good for you. It is said to be a simple tonic that can help relieve stress and make you feel happier as you feel closer to nature. This week there is a fantastic opportunity to try out this theory at RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve in Silverdale, as they are holding a Dawn Chorus event on Sunday 1 May.
It starts in the early hours at 4 am, to listen for the very first birds starting to sing (usually robins or blackbirds) just before dawn. It then builds up to a bird song crescendo on a meander through the beautiful valley on the woodland and reedbed nature trails.
Back at the visitor centre, a further treat is in store, with an extremely tasty full English breakfast in the cafÃ© from 7 to 7.30 am. The cost is Â£11 (or Â£9 for RSPB members).
Jen Walker, visitor officer at the reserve said: 'I particularly love this event as you get to hear the reedbed coming to life with the most amazing variety of birds singing. Seeing the sun come up over the hills and the mist clearing away from the pools is heart-warming too. People all around the world will be celebrating International Dawn Chorus Day on Sunday so why not join in too?"
For those who prefer to get up a little later, the reserve are holding a 'Birding for beginners: birdsong' guided walk on Sunday 28 and Sunday 29 May from 7.30 am to 10 am. Costs for this event are Â£8 (RSPB members Â£6), which includes a bacon or veggie bap and a tea or coffee at the end.
Jen continues: "Of course we can't guarantee you'll suddenly feel happier after listening to bird song! But when you include a relaxing walk in the fresh air and stunning surroundings, meeting other friendly people and tucking into an appetising cooked breakfast, I'm sure it will lift your spirits and you'll have a very memorable experience."
Due to popular demand booking is essential for all these events by telephoning the visitor centre on 01524 701601."
True enough, Leighton Moss is probably one of the best dawn chorus sites near to us - I always used to hit the causeway pre-dawn on bird races back in my dark past, and always racked up a good list.
Also via the e-mailing machine that is the RSPB press office, comes this missive from nearer to home, with a pic from Martin George:
"This stunning image shows an avocet incubating its precious eggs on a nest of cockle shells at RSPB Marshside where there are currently 2 pairs nesting on the reserve's man-made islands. Over 30 other pairs are on the reserve and look like they will start nesting soon.
The emblematic species of the RSPB, avocets have been breeding at the Southport reserve since 2002 when a single pair first nested there.
The avocet was photographed by visitor Martin George from the reserve's main hide where the RSPB is currently hosting its new Avocet Date with Nature project.
Every Friday to Monday until 4 July, RSPB staff and volunteers can be found at the hide armed with telescopes, providing visitors with stunning views of the nesting avocets."
The reason for this pr cop out on the blog instead of the latest fix from Plex, isn't "Dotterel burn-out", although God knows they are trying my patience this year.
Listening to Skylarks in full song is all very Vaughan Williams, but they ain't what I'm trawling the ploughed fields for at present.
Actually I'm otherwise tied up for the next day or two at a big wedding (no, not that one - the one I'm going to will be far more piratty....Y'arrrrr!).
This means several things:
1. All the Dotterels in the Palearctic will descend on Plex while I'm not there.
2. I'll have a head like a lodging house cat come Sunday.
3. A good time will be had by all.
Nowt new birdwise, although while working on Southport seafront early yesterday morning I heard what sounded suspiciously like a rattling Lesser Whitethroat behind the din of the morning commute.
Bird was in the trees and scrub surrounding the Esplanade park and ride site, but stopped calling by 9.45am.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...