23 Jan - The sunny frosty weather continued at the weekend, sparking winter conditions, the highlight for me was the small numbers of Bramblings found by Dave Soons in a setaside N of Daglingworth. Nice views of the birds mixed in with Chaffinches and Linnets, and a few photos possible using the car as a hide. The CWP is largely frozen up at present, good numbers of Goosander and Goldeneye as well as the elusive Smew. Male Goldeneye from twitcher's gate......
20 Jan - it's difficult to resist going out in such lovely weather, and I won't have time to go far the next few days, so a trip to Hampshire timed for the rising tide, and an excellent selection of waders and other goodies. The Purple Sandpipers at Southsea Castle did a couple of flybys, but did not land - nearby Farlington by the A27 has a wintering flock of Avocets which today numbered exactly 50, and others specialities on a quick scan included Grey and Ringed Plovers, Bar-tailed Godwits and hundreds of Brent Geese. I'd never been to Emaworth before, but had read about the Spotted Redshank that has wintered here for at least 8 years and is very confiding - and it was this afternoon, feeding at close range in the stream, with a (colour-ringed) Greenshank for company.
Hayling bridge area and the oyster beds were excellent as usual, with 2 adult winter Med Gulls among the black-headeds, and close views of large numbers of waders including Turnstones, and Red-breasted Mergansers were feeding in the deeper water, accompanied by 2 dumpy Black=necked Grebes. At dusk the large noisy flocks of Brent Geese flying to roost were an impressive spectacle,and a hovering Kingfisher in one of the creeks was a last highlight,.. A very enjoyable and productive afternoon, and door-to-door motorway/dual carriageway makes it a very accessible area, especially on such a beautiful afternoon, with clear low winter sunlight accentuating the magical atmosphere of flocks of birds among the creeks and mudflats. Very therapeutic.
En route mid morning, a quick look at CWP pits 29/30 confirmed the return of the Smew with the onset of the recent cold weather........ a drake and 4 redheads seen, wary as usual, but always special to see.
19 Jan - A cold, dank, misty morning in the Forest of Dean, but conditions good enough for the Hawfinches at Parkend - 4 seen in the treetops, then a female dropped down briefly onto the ground, and fed at close range for 2-3 minutes. Fairly poor light but a few photos possible. Elsewhere I drew a blank on the Great Grey Shrike but a few flyover Crossbills and a small flock of Siskins seen.
16 Jan - Good views of a Water Rail at Slimbridge at the w/e, from Willow hide - also 3 Knot on South Lake over high tide, along with the usual waders - Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin and Snipe. Impressive views of large flocks of birds in flight, as well as the superb Bewick's Swans - I never tire of them!
13 Jan - A covering of snow, gone by lunchtime, but I couldn't resist another photo session with the Waxwings in Cheltenham as some sunny intervals forecast. They did not disappoint, and up to 40 birds present giving stunning views, feeding and preening. Somewhat incongruous in the middle of an industrial estate with lorries and heavy traffic all around.......
En route home, 4-5 Bramblings present with the mobile Chaffinch flock at Crickley Hill, and some, including 2 smart males, seen feeding on the ground as less disturbance from dog walkers than usual.
10/11 Jan - On the afternoon of 10th, I was returning to the surgery from a visit when I decided to detour through the railway village to check the berry trees - and I did a double take when amongst the Blackbirds feeding in the trees was an upright bird with a distinctive crest - a Waxwing! in fact two.....I stopped to look (without optics) before putting the news out.
Early morning 11th saw me back in the side streets checking the trees, and then the Waxwings appeared and preened in the treetops, now numbering six birds, looking striking in the sun and calling with their distinctive trill. I returned briefly at lunchtime and saw the birds feeding for a short while in the rowan trees, but they are rather flighty. Self-found, and a local twitch!