Today, I set off on a run determined to erase the guilt of holiday time from work spent partaking of extra pints of beer from time to time and eating vegetarian stir fries of far too large a size.
I hit the road, Radio 4 in my ear, and determined to do a big run.
I ran past the cricket ground, and up along the cyle path towards Cotham, about 4-5 miles. Near Flowserve, my attention was taken by a pair of small and very plain brown birds flitting about in the hedgerow. Brown backs, paler brown underparts and a pale eye stripe. Definitely warblers, and judging by the size - no bigger than a coal tit - and colouration I'd say they were chiffchaffs rather than willow warblers although they didn't give me a bit of a sing song that would have clinched the deal.
In the very next tree, a pair of goldfinches were showing beautifully in the sun, and every so often my delicate footsteps would flush a peacock butterfly - disappointed not to see any orange tips on such a warm 20 degree day.
The rubbish tip was alive with gulls and crows, and as I turned on the road through Cotham village, there were plenty of kestrels around, and also a rather odd looking buzzard - it's tail seemed rather short, giving it a vulture-like apppearance. It shot up on a thermal like it was in a lift.
Eventually, I came to Cotham Flash, and decided to stop briefly to look over the gate into the horses' paddock. Within there were several stunning yellow wagtails, so bright they were almost fluorescent. I haven't seen one of these for many years, in town we only tend to get grey wagtails. They are incresingly scarce in the UK, so I'm pleased I saw them, so many interesting sights round Cotham Flash. I didn't notice any wheatears as I'd seen reported, and resolved to bring my binoculars to this spot as soon as possible.
On the Hawton Farndon Road, there were a few swallows about, but didn't see anything of note in Willow Holt. The Black Swan was on the river today, and on the power station weir a cormorant was standing like a jurassic relic drying its wings.
The next interesting bird I saw flapping into a bush along the windmill stretch. Saw a bird with a noticeably chestnutty back, and managed to get a good look before it flew off across the river into the reeds - black face and white collar, it was a reed bunting, which I've never seen along the river here before.
Fabulous run, fabulous day, lots to see and proud I did it!