Oh Fudge !! .Priory CP. 30th Jan 2013.

After a couple of hours sleep I popped up to Priory Country Park for the Ferruginous Duck. Before I reached the park I noticed all the surrounding rivers and waterways had burst their banks, but didn't think it would affect where I was going! 
Rounding the lake I picked out the Black necked grebe,distantly. I met a couple of birders scoping for the "Fudge Duck", searching amongst the Pochard it was soon picked out and even though it stood out using my bins I was grateful for the offer to view through one of their scopes. Unfortunately They informed me that the path to the hide,and closer to the duck, was under water and over wellie height!, and with everyone retracing their footsteps I didn't fancy a dip, so I stayed for a while longer putting a few people onto the duck before heading home for a bit of a kip.

Freezing cold morning..fancy a Dip...! Jan 2013.

 Mine and my Dads first trip out for 2013, and a new bird. We have both seen Dippers before but not the Black Bellied variant. It was a bloody cold morning, -8.5 when I left home to pick my Dad up, on site it wasn't long before my dad found the bird feeding in an area just inside the wood just off the bridges. The light was awful and I had to manually tweak the settings just to get some half decent images. A lovely dumpy little bird that was feeding very actively, it seemed to be picking out fly larvae from the leaf litter on the river bed, and it was very good at doing that. On half the findings it seemed to go behind the dam, I don't know whether it was stashing them or not? It would swim on the surface before diving, giving a impression of an auk in the water. A great morning, shame about the cloud cover but lucky for us this long staying bird stayed to brighten our day.

Snow falls again, not before snapping some lovelies. Bev's. Jan 2013.

 The weather was freezing and cloudy but the roads were clear for me to get to Bev's. I donned numerous layers of warm clothing and set off. The cold weather is obviously having an effect on the normal routines of the birds, the Fieldfares were approachable for once and seemed to be following the Starlings around as they fed among the grasses. 

 From a distance I spied a couple of Reed Buntings, moving closer I was to find 4 Lesser Redpoll, I was excited to of gotten one the visit before as it passed over, so 4 feeding in front of me got the blood racing.  I carefully stalked closer and grabbed some images before they alighted to another feeding area.

 It was as I followed the Redpolls that I noticed a commotion across from me, the thrushes and starlings had taken to the air, it was then I saw a male Sparrowhawk in pursuit of a Fieldfare. It did not succeed on this occasion but shortly after I noticed it fly and land carrying a bird, probably a Starling or Thrush due to the size.

 I had searched the hundreds of Greylags but did not see any White Fronted geese that Bev had noted a couple of days before. What did turn up that Bev had seen before were 2 Egyptian geese. So with images of Redpoll and Fieldfare in the bag as it were, and Egyptian geese added to the list I was feeling chirpy!
 Then the snow started up again so I headed back to the car and there I added another to the list, a Mistle Thrush perched up with a snowy backdrop. A long chat with Bev ensued and I left happy with today's efforts.

Waxwings. Sandy January 2013.

 Within an hour of reading the report of Waxwings in Sandy, Bedfordshire I was on the hunt for them. I spied 15 of them resting in the tree tops, and after a careful approach I was able to get some shots of these beauties. They took it in turn to drop down and feed on the frozen berries before returning to their look out. They moved around the area on a few occasions but returned back to the same trees. The hoar frost had covered everything and it was bloody cold, the light lasted for a short while before a huge bank of cloud moved over, they then flew to the industrial estate and with the shutter speed dropping drastically I headed off to help with a car jump start at the Lodge before going home happy I'd caught up with them this time.

Frozen Feet forgotten for a second! Bev's Jan 2013.

 Halfway through the month already!, the weather was very cold and a very sharp frost. The temperature was reading -3.5! and it bloody felt it too, no matter what I wear on my feet they are the first to freeze and after 20 minutes or so they were numb. 

 Still I plodded on and glad I did. Firstly I noticed a group of Teal on the ice, these hadn't been present on the last two visits so this was a welcome addition and I counted 21 ducks, which is the most I can remember seeing here.

 The gulls were gathering in larger numbers still, made up of just Black headed gulls and Common gulls. The Kestrel was again showing, no doubt finding it hard to get food in the cold snap, another species in search of food was a Fox, I was waiting for it to move around the lake edge but it spied a couple of fishermen on the common side and high tailed it away from me.

 I headed in the direction the Fox took in the hope of catching up with it again, but instead of locating it I noticed a lot of movement in the waterlogged field adjacent to the road. Lapwings, Greylags with Barnacle in tow and then I noticed something different.. a Golden Plover...get in there I thought, then I noticed two more close by making it 3 Golden's. THEN ! a small bird flew overhead calling and luckily it landed in a tree close by....a Lesser Redpoll....another site tick, wow, for a few seconds I forgot how much my feet were hurting. I then picked out a small group of Common Snipe feeding in the field before catching up with Bev, and off home to thaw out. The site list now stands at 45 species this year.

Waxwings, Wet Feet and Wildfowl. A New Year at Bev's. Jan 2013.

* 4 Waxwings seen on route to Bev's * 
A new year list begins at Bev's and I was able to get 2 visits in this week. The water level is extremely high, the banks on most sides have become submerged, the image above shows the island in March last year and the image below shows just the top remaining out of water. The grass verges are waterlogged, moving the Snipe further in. I counted around 20 or so that were flushed when I walked through, but one little snipe made me jump, when just feet away it took to the air only for it to drop straight down again, totally unlike the Common Snipes characteristics, this was my first new site tick of the year... the long awaited Jack Snipe...finally I had nailed it and worth getting wet feet for.

 I then set about recording everything on site from the road to the river North to South. It was fairly quiet but the birds present needed to be added to the list if I was to try and break the species number from last year. The geese were in large numbers with around 300 Greylags, including the solitary Barnacle goose still in tow. A handful of Canada geese flew over, and the next notable species were the gulls. Mostly Black headed gulls  and Common gulls.

Duck numbers were not as high as before and there were definitely less Gadwall present. Plenty of Coots but just a single Moorhen. On the second visit of the week I added Lesser black backed gull and in one group of Common gulls I counted 54 birds, definitely up on last year, maybe due to the depth of the water? 

 It was a lovely bright day on the second visit, and I did a double take when I heard a cricket calling from the grass behind me! Its not spring yet mate!

 I had counted 41 species and there were some not present that I would of thought would be, so hopefully they will be added next time, ie; Little Egret,Teal and House Sparrow even, they are normally present around the house but only Starlings for now. I cant wait for the year to progress and maybe turn up a scarce bird or two, I just hope the water levels drop significantly or there will be a drop in nesting birds and passing waders.