Weather: Mainly blue skies, part cloud. Cold in the shade.
Birds Total: 42
Plus: Grey Squirrel; Muntjac.
Another rare sunny, rainless day. Another opportunity.
There was nothing to report, other than a lone Long-tailed Tit, until I arrived in the Teal Hide at the Hall Marsh Scrape. From here I could see around 18 Wigeon; 40+ Lapwing; 6 Teal; lots of Shoveler; 3 Greylag Geese plus I could hear a Cetti's Warbler and a Green Woodpecker. There was already one other guy in there, who soon left me to it. The Lapwing and the BHGs went up a couple of times while I was there and brought a pair of Starlings up with them. I couldn't see what the cause was.
After around 35 minutes I moved around to the other viewpoint where I could see a lone Little Grebe fishing. Moving on around the trail I first heard, then spotted a Cetti's Warbler hopping around low down in the bushes over the stream. Then I came across a lone female Muntjac feeding, again across the stream.
She had her back to me and didn't see me sneak up close. I managed a few shots before she looked up, saw me and scampered over the rise and disappeared.
Further along, on Hooks Marsh Lake, I spotted a Redhead Smew, about 60 meters away, fishing. I walked a little further to try and get a better look and was rewarded with a view of both the Redhead and a drake Smew. Then a minute later another Redhead appeared. Unfortunately a bit too far away for a photo, it was nonetheless brilliant to see them. Easily the birds of the day.
Just before I arrived at Hooks Marsh lake I spotted more GCGs and Greylags. At the feeding point a couple were busy emptying a large bag of seed to the delight of dozens of Mutes; Ducks; Geese; Gulls and Coots - it was a veritable feeding frenzy.
I spent about 90 minutes in the Bittern Hide, trying to avoid both the bright reflection of the sun and the biting breeze blowing in through the Hide. There were a few people already there, with others coming and going. Looking out there were another 25-odd Lapwing on Seventy Acres lake mixed in with all the usual suspects. Immediately outside the Hide a lone GCG swam up close a few times; a Water Rail briefly appeared between the reed-beds while besides all the usual birds on the feeders there was a male Reed Bunting awaiting its turn. Another Cetti's was singing in the background.
I decided to move off to the Grebe Hide, if only to warm up, where I was just thinking I hadn't yet seen a Grey Heron when, lo and behold, one turned up, stalking on the opposite bank. Further on I could hear the characteristic chack of loads of Jackdaws above a farm in the distance. When I got to Holyfield Weir I was very surprised to see hardly anything about, other than a lone Mute Swan; some Coot; a few Tufties and not much else.
On the way around to the Hide I noticed lots of coppicing had been done. A notice nearby explained the reason for coppicing, but it did look a bit more like deforestation as large swathes had been chopped down and stacked. A GSW sounded off, possibly venting its annoyance at the loss of habitat.
There wasn't much to see from the Grebe Hide either. Two pairs of GCGs were swimming close to each other; a few Tufties and Coot plus one male Pochard. I couldn't see any reason as to the absence other than a few yachts to the far right. But after about 10 minutes birds started to appear. A Grey Heron was
perched on a tree out to the left, soon joined by a second and then 3 Little Egrets; a pair of Teal swam in but then took off and flew away.
Then, during lunch, I witnessed a Mallard spat. 2 males went head-to-head, literally, with one pushing the other backwards, until he made sure everyone knew he was the alpha male. He then went on to try and claim the pair of females that were watching. A Buzzard flew high in the sky, from right to left. It then got
buzzed by a Peregrine Falcon. A Cormorant started flying back and forth in front of the Hide, carrying nesting material. It had a very white head. And just before I left I witnessed one pair of GCGs performing the first part of their courtship, the head-shaking.
Not much to report after that, I spent another hour in the Bittern Hide, seeing much the same thing, before heading home just after 4.
It was disappointing to miss the Bittern again but the Smew made up for it.