Highley station (seen above) gave us two unusual sightings in the shape of Blue Tits nesting in the light fitting visible in the photo and a Marsh Tit making its way through nearby trees while we waited for a train to arrive.
On the return trip we disembarked at Arley to walk four miles or so towards Bewdley along the banks of the River Severn. This immediately met with Emma's approval who zeroed in on the nearest ice cream seller before we finally got on our way. All day we'd been seeing Orange-tip butterflies and hearing Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs so it wasn't completely unexpected when a burst of song led us straight to this male Blackcap. Surrounded by blossom and with a punky crest he really was a stunner and the perfect individual to mark my first sighting of the species this year.
Just a couple of meters further brought us to Worrall's Grove, an historic orchard whose blossomed trees were shining brilliantly under a clear blue sky. Even better though were a couple of Stock Doves nestling in their branches which though slightly distant gave us our best views of these birds and also my first ever photographic opportunity. Unfortunately they proved to be more flighty than I'd expected meaning that this was the best I could manage.
Also making their home in the orchard was a Robin whose young could be heard calling from nearby undergrowth and a drumming Great-spotted Woodpecker. It's such a shame that this sort of habitat has become much rarer as farming practices have changed but it does at least make you appreciate those that are left that little bit more.
Continuing onwards we passed beneath the famous Victoria bridge (above) to arrive at Trimpley reservoir. Here a couple of Swallows and Tufted Ducks were accompanied by yet more singing Blackcaps before a vibrating wader leapt into the air from along the waters edge. Straight away we knew it was a Common Sandpiper, another spring migrant and another notch in the seasons progress. There was also good evidence of new life here with two Mallard ducklings cheeping noisily as their mother attempted to marshal them into cover near where a Mute Swan was tucked up tight in its nest. Unfortunately this point also marked the last we saw of the river on our walk as somehow we managed to lose our intended route and ended up along a small lane with seemingly no way across to where we were meant to be. Every cloud and all that as at least we got some more great views of the railway before it was time to continue our weekend, this time in the Yorkshire Dales.