Weather: Sunny for most of the day, slight cloud. Very cold.
Bird Total: 46
Plus: Bank Vole; Fox; Grey Squirrel; Muntjac.
It was a beautiful, cold, crisp morning.
The lagoons could still be seen on the journey down. As could the usual squadrons of Canada Geese, this time flanked by Wigeon. A few Fieldfare were flying around.
I had to negotiate the car-park before I reached the canal path, which shouldn't have been too much of a problem. Only this time there was a large group of OAPs astride bicycles, almost barring the way. It sounded like all of them were shouting at each other. They were certainly dressed for the occasion - all of them were wearing the requisite gear and all sitting on mountain bikes.
I reached Friday Lake where all I could see were a pair of Great Crested Grebes; a few Pochard and all the usual crowd. A Grey Heron or two flew past. I was disappointed not to see any Smew this time.
I sat down in the Teal Hide and looked out to find loads of Wigeon; several Lapwing; a couple of Pheasants, one of them a black morph; a few Teal and Shoveler and lots of Geese and Gulls. I was disappointed, again, not to see the male Stonechat. I was also disappointed to see that someone had been sick in the Hide, stinking the place out. That was probably why all the shutters were open.
I managed to sit it out for about 20 minutes before moving on. Another birder had arrived but didn't stay too long, turning his nose up as he left. It wasn't me! Before I left a Kestrel flew over, chased by a Magpie.
Outside the Hide I nearly tripped over a dog. The owner walked past, whistling at it. It trotted off to join two of its' companions. I decided to loiter a bit, to let him get ahead. A lucky break, because I then heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling. I soon picked it up, high in the trees opposite, before it flew off.
I made my way through the lakes, seeing Chiffchaff; Long-tailed Tit; Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe. Just before I reached the main path I spotted a redhead Smew, floating out on the lake. It was quite a good view, being only about 30 metres away. However, it then dived down and promptly disappeared.
I entered the trail towards the Bittern Hide. I was immediately passed by loads of cyclists, not the same ones as earlier. A pair of loud Ring-necked Parakeets flew overhead.
There wasn't much to see before I reached the Hide. However, I did spy a Greylag Goose trying to imitate a White-fronted Goose. When I entered the Bittern Hide I found a few people already in there.
However, there wasn't much about, at first. The feeders were doing the usual good business, with Greats and Blues. Then a Jay flew in and landed underneath the feeders. It didn't stay long. A Great Crested Grebe was fishing out to my right, along the inlet. A pair of Little Grebes were fishing in one of the channels. A Shelduck could be seen in amongst several Lapwing, on the large island on the lake.
A few more people came and went, a familiar face among them. I had lunch and decided to head up the trail, towards the Grebe Hide.
This time, I turned left outside the Hide and took a different route. I immediately saw more Great Crested Grebe; Pochard and a few more Grey Heron. However, I was pleased to see two female Goosanders out on the lake. Even better, they didn't see me and started swimming towards me. I took a few photos and was anticipating some close-ups, when a dog-walker came by and scared them off.
I carried on, seeing a lone Little Egret, perched on a branch, on the other side of the river. Then a buck Muntjac appeared and allowed me a few photos. Another Great Spotted Woodpecker sounded off and was seen high above. It began to get very muddy in this area. More dog-walkers appeared.
There was nothing else of note to report, until I arrived in the Grebe Hide. A few people came and went while I was there. However, there wasn't much about on the lake. Either in species or numbers. And what there was, was quite distant. There were plenty of Wigeon; lots of Gulls; lots of Coot; lots of Tufted Duck.
There was also a lone female Pochard and then I spotted a lone Fieldfare feeding on the berries, on the same tree as the last visit. Then I could see two Little Egrets; a Grey Heron and a Little Grebe, way out to the left.
Just as I was about to head off, thinking I had failed to see a Great Crested Grebe out there for the first time, one drifted slowly past.
I reached the area looking out over the relief channel, towards the Farm, where I could see loads of Jackdaw. The lagoon opposite, which had been dry on my last two visits, was now suddenly very full. And very full with wildfowl. Dozens of Wigeon; Shoveler; Gadwall and Teal, with a sprinkling of Mallard. All very vocal. It was quite a sight.
However, I then spotted a female Muntjac, in the field just beyond. She was busily feeding and didn't see a Fox, not too far away from her. The Fox, however, was concentrating on creeping up on the wildfowl. Several birds were close to land. I watched as he tried his luck, failing to grab anything. The birds were too quick.
I carried on watching, as the Muntjac bounded off and then the Fox tried his luck on the other side of the lake, adjacent to the relief channel. I managed to take a few photos just before he vanished from view. Just before I moved on I spotted a Redwing feeding on the red berries.
There seemed to be a never-ending stream of dog-walkers today. And with them were never-ending piles of dog-poo. I spent a lot of time looking down at the ground.
I reached the Picnic Area, seeing another Jay flyover. Several picnickers were picnicking. As they do.
There were several more people in the Bittern Hide, when I arrived, with others coming and going. I spent over an hour here, as there was a lot going on. The feeders were still busy, with the same customers. There was a visit from a Great Crested Grebe, right in front of the Hide. A Grey Heron was also present, again close by. Both were fishing and it was quite interesting to see the differing techniques.
Another Jay arrived, possibly the same one and posed again, before flying off. Then a Water Rail appeared and gave really good views in one of the channels. It was starting to darken and it was obviously having a wash before bed. Lastly, I spotted a little Bank Vole, to the left of the Hide and the feeders.
It turned out to be quite a good day!
'I love not man the less, but Nature more.' George Gordon Byron