Forced to the Midlands on business for a couple of days, I managed to snatch a quick evening stroll around the RSPB's incredible Middleton Lakes reserve. Like an inland Minsmere, the range of habitats and the scents and sounds of spring were truly uplifting. After emerging from woodland littered with bluebells and awash with the scent of garlic, where Bullfinches and a Treecreeper called, it was out onto the reedbeds and lakes. Here, the soundscape of chuntering Reed Warblers, screeching Common Terns, a rattling Lesser Whitethroat and a reeling Grasshopper Warbler were just the therapy I've been needing lately, while three upending Garganey and an argumentative trio of Little Ringed Plovers just topped it off. I also delighted in my first Mallard and Coot broods of the year. I wished I hadn't arrived with both an empty stomach and water bottle, eventually driving me to reluctantly bail out.