Weather: Sunny early on, clouding over later. Cold in the wind.
Bird Total: 42
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I choose the Fishers Green area for the last trip of the year.
The weather actually ended on a fairly high note. If you like clear skies and mild weather. However, I've still got money on a really cold snap before the advent of Spring. The Flora and Fauna seem to be as puzzled as the rest of us, with migration still on hold and plants starting to flower.
However, today was the last day of the year. Which means that tomorrow everything resets to zero and we all start the annual mad dash to beat previous totals. Today's trip beat the 2013 total, by one.
The train down was almost devoid of passengers. However, I guess most people had taken the opportunity of having the week off, because the Reserve was busier than usual. Lots of families, lots of dogs. Sigh.
I spied hundreds of Canada Geese on the drier parts of the fields, on the journey down. However, there wasn't much else to see.
A quick walk down the canal path and I was soon looking out over Friday Lake. After a few minutes I could see a pair of Great Crested Grebe; several Wigeon; a few Pochard and, best of all, a redhead Smew, which was out in the open for once. I watched as it floated past, about 30 metres away.
Another Birder turned up. When the Smew floated behind the trees to my left, I decided to head off. I had only gone a few steps when the other guy cried out that the Smew had flown back. Soon it was joined by another redhead and, together, they floated towards the bank, not far from where I was standing.
I decided to creep down the muddy path towards them. I managed to get to within about 10 metres before they spotted me and flew off. However I did get a few modest photos.
On the walk to the Teal Hide I had to avoid lots of dogs and lots of dog excrement. Although there were clear, blue skies it was quite cold, especially in the wind. It was probably the coldest day of the season, so far. However, that's not saying much, this year.
The same Birder was in the Hide when I arrived. There was quite a lot going on out on the lagoon. Plenty of Geese and Ducks. And Coot. There were more Wigeon and plenty of Lapwing but, oddly, I saw no Teal today. A pair of Egyptian Geese flew over, heading south. A black morph Pheasant strode by, fairly close to us. The male Stonechat was in the same place, on the fence-line, adjacent to the Snipe Hide.
I decided to leave my friend to it and headed off to try and get a closer look at the Chat. It wasn't having any of it, of course. It stayed put, on the posts, about 30 metres away. It was still quite a good view through my Bins, though.
There wasn't a great deal to be seen, on the walk through the lakes, other than a Sparrowhawk fly-by. And nothing much to be seen until I arrived in the Bittern Hide. Where there were quite a few people. Consequently, not much was on the lagoon outside the Hide. A few Coot and Moorhen were floating around, as were a pair of Mallards. The feeders were half full and attracting the usual birds.
A Great Crested Grebe was fishing out to our right, but didn't venture in too close. The female Mallard then caught a Crayfish and took a few minutes to get it down. That's something I've never seen before!
A pair of Egyptian Geese were on the island, at the far end of the lake, possibly the same pair. More Lapwing could be seen. But then the Hide started to fill up even more, with noisy families and dogs. So, having only been in the Hide for about twenty minutes, I decided to take a walk up to the Grebe Hide.
I had just entered the trail when a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over and landed on one of the trees on the opposite side. The wind had picked up and it was starting to get colder, as the clouds moved in. Carol had forecast that it would cloud over just after lunchtime. She was right, this time.
I reached the Grebe Hide, having not seeing very much about. There were plenty of wildfowl on the lakes, as I strode up. I spied loads of stuff, just before I reached the Hide and I wondered if they had been moved on, for some reason.
There were four people in the Hide when I arrived. I was right, the lake was birdless, close in, unlike the last visit. There were plenty of birds further out, though. I could see lots of Wigeon and Coot City, but I was looking for Goosander. Unfortunately, none today but I was delighted to see another redhead Smew, out to the right.
People came and went. I counted three Great Crested Grebes and a few distant Fieldfare, which were feeding on the berries. I decided to head off, too, as the weather was now starting to deteriorate even further. Carol had said that it would start to rain by the end of the day.
On the walk back a lovely Goldcrest flew past me and landed on a nearby tree. Unfortunately, it soon vanished. A Little Grebe could be seen fishing on the relief channel.
I was soon sat sitting in the Bittern Hide again. More people were here, as well. Nothing much happened until a Sparrowhawk flashed past the feeders, scaring everything. A minute later it flew back, looking like it had something in its' talons.
About ten minutes later, a large family entered the Hide. With very noisy toddlers and a pair of equally noisy dogs. It coincided with a Little Egret appearing in one of the reed channels. Of course the Egret didn't stay long, with all the noise and quickly flew off.
I decided that I'd had enough at that point, so I headed for home. On the way back about ten Ring-necked Parakeets flew past, all bright green and soundless.
'Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.' Mark Twain