It was already light enough to get out by 07:20, and when I left my house to walk along Ashes Lane, my pencil was scribbling away at a rate not seen for months, ROBIN, COLLARED DOVE, DUNNOCK, WREN, SONGTHRUSH and even a BLACKBIRD were heard to sing, while PHEASANT, JACKDAW, CARRION CROW, WOODPIGEON, HOUSE SPARROW, BLUE TIT and CHAFFINCH all called, 13 species in the first ten steps of my walk!
The LINNETS were seen leaving their roost in the tree nursery, 60-80 flew out as I passed, whilst a little further into the field a MEADOW PIPIT flew up and called loudly as it made its way into the distant blue sky. REDWINGS were a feature of todays walk, with a flock of 30 seen as I left the nursery and walked along the sheep pasture/hedgerow that takes me along to Migrant Alley, where another 83 were seen on the horse paddocks, along with just a single FIELDFARE. Also seen here was a small group of YELLOWHAMMERS.
I made my way to the College Grounds, but was unable to walk along the stream there, as it was in full flood, and I couldn't cross back over further down, but as I looked along the bank, a GREY HERON got up and flew a little further downstream. In the grounds and gardens of the college, more song was heard, from a MISTLE THRUSH, while a GREAT TIT called its spring call. GREENFINCH, GOLDFINCH, and a group of 4 BULLFINCH were also recorded here.
Crossing the sports pitch to get back to Migrant Alley, the usual BLACK HEADED GULLS were seen, but with them today was a few HERRING GULLS and the more scarce COMMON GULL. The second walk through Migrant Alley yeilded PIED WAGTAIL, SKYLARK and flyovers by both CANADA GOOSE and two CORMORANTS. Nearing the Greenhouse Complex the KESTREL was again at its usual place, and a brief rest on the sunny side of the buildings had me watching a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER bounding across the sky and before I had dropped my eyes earthwarwds again, a COMMON SNIPE flew in the opposite direction, a good species to get on my patch. Finishing the first half of my walk, that takes me along ashes lane again, I came across a noisey party of LONG TAILED TITS, which suddenly all dropped down as one, into the thickest part of the hedge and went silent, a quick look up gave the reason why, a SPARROWHAWK flew low over, they had seen it well before I had!
The second half of my walk through the Small Holding, Wet Woods and Lake area, gave me a few more species for the day list, a STOCK DOVE was singing, if you can call it a song, and GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, GREENWOODPECKER, JAY and TREECREEPER all made an appearance, in fact 4 of the latter were seen overall, one was in full song, a delight to hear.
The lake was virtually ice bound still, but two MALLARDS were under the tree overhang, however more of a surprise was the sighting of my first KINGFISHER (60) of the year, it was preening on a branch above the only ice free piece a water.
One more surprise lay in wait for me as I walked home, yet again along Ashes lane, a TEAL (61) was seen flying over the Greenhouse Complex, it seemed to have come from the direction of the wet woods, If it did, then I had missed it earlier, must try harder!!
A very good total of 49 species was recorded in all today, with another two species seen in the garden later in the day - SISKIN and COAL TIT, taking the day total to over 50. Among them the two more year ticks, makes the January total look much healthier, 61 is above average for the 8 previous years, but still seven below the record set last year.