I've probably written on here before about the fact that April 20th is, in my mind, Redstart Day. For years, on my old patch, I would see Redstarts migrating through the area, usually in a hedge at Thornton Reservoir, but occasionally at somewhere like Groby Pool.
The date already had great significance, because it was the birthday of my older sister Rebecca, who died of cancer in 2004, aged 35. And somewhere along the line, the two things became linked in my mind, and going out and seeing a Redstart became a little ritual of remembrance.
Of course, there's a self-fulfilling prophecy element to it. Migrating Redstarts favour particular habitat, so you have to go out looking for them specifically, and most years, I've probably not visited likely sites until the 20th has rolled around and jogged my memory. Still, it's a habit I can't kick.
So, when my colleague Mike Weedon found one at Ferry Meadows Country Park, just along the road from the office, this morning, I had to go to take a look. And there it was, a gloriously sharply-marked male, flitting up and down a hedgerow, and occasionally dropping down to the ground to eat a tasty morsel. A couple of Whitethroats were frequenting the same hedge, and a bit further along, a Lesser Whitethroat showed up, too. Evidence that, after the long winter and cold spring, migration is in full flow.
I wrote about this, and the miracle of migration more generally, in my book A Sky Full Of Birds, which is available online, at most bookshops, or direct from me (if you want a signed copy).
But I also talked about them for BBC Radio 4's Tweet of the Day, recently – you can listen to it here.