The cloudy, dull, damp conditions finally relented today, and my afternoon visit was made in some nice sunshine, a biting cold wind blew, but that was easily dealt with by a few extra layers of clothing.
I was pleased to see the return of a few finches as I walked through the Small Holding, a small flock of 5 GOLDFINCH and 7 CHAFFINCH were hanging around the Alpaca enclosure. On entering the Wet Woods, a GREAT TIT was calling, trying to mimic the Marsh Tit call, which it made a pretty good job of, and 3 pairs of MALLARD were on the flooded pits, but not much else apart from Grey squirrels were seen.
Walking the footpath from the woods to the lake brought the usual quickening of pace, but I needn't of hurried, the only thing on the water was a MOORHEN! I became aware of an increasing trilling, that got louder as I approached the woody scrub area, I looked up to find 8 LESSER REDPOLL in a Silver Birch, and at least 6 SISKIN in a conifer. I set to with the camera, but before I'd finished, more chirriping, whistling, ticking and allsorts of birdy calls was heard coming my way.
Birds! birds everywhere! I was suddenly surrounded by a large feeding flock, there were, conservatively, 20 LONG TAILED TITS, 6 TREECREEPERS, 4 NUTHATCH, 6 GOLDCREST, 2 COAL TITS, 2 MARSH TITS, 2 GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, and 2 WRENS, but there were only a few BLUE and Great Tits, these would normally make up the bulk of such a flock.
I wasn't complaining though! Where have they all been ? This is more like what i'm used to seeing here! I think the fact that a respite in the wretched gas cannons has occurred, may have had something to do with it. For the next hour or so I joined the flock, moving with them slowly and stealthily, so as not to alarm them. Soon they became acceptable to my presence, not an alarm call was heard, in fact the Marsh Tit gave some of it's beautiful warbling song, something that I rarely hear.
I didn't have to visit any other part of my patch, I filled my boots with photo's, and just let myself become immersed in the flock, watching and listening, then moving along with them from cover to cover, absolutely fascinating, and a brilliant way to spend an afternoon :-)
Also rans today, but well worth noting, were 12 LAPWINGS that flew over, only the second sighting of this species for january, and a KESTREL, which sat on a telephone pole along Ashes lane.
Here's a selection of photo's from the feeding flock. The light in the woods was just about good enough, and in some places it was quite good. The first four are of Goldcrests, as I said I filled my boots with photo's today :-) Left click to enlarge any of the photo's.