Cold rain was falling as I left this morning, which was made worse by a cold NW wind, and a dense low cloud that hung around all morning, making for a dark, damp visit, not what I was looking forward to at all!!
During the 4 hours I was out, a total of 42 species was recorded, a little below average for a January day, but as the actual number of birds around was very small, it was not a bad effort :-)
Despite the dismal conditions, quite a few birds were practising their songs, getting ready for the breeding season thats almost here, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, MISTLE THRUSH, SONG THRUSH all sang loudly, with CHAFFINCH and BLACKBIRD just seemingly tuning up, not quite giving it all yet. The COAL TITS were also singing over at the lakeside scrub, where the WREN and STOCK DOVE also made light of the cold dampness with their songs, particularly pleasing was hearing the GOLDCREST singing, they really are hardy little birds, coming through yet another hard spell of weather :-)
Nothing had dropped onto the lake over night, so it was a case of checking out the MALLARD and MOORHENS, although whilst I was there a CORMORANT came down and fished for a while, the first seen on the lake this year. SISKINS were still very evident all over my patch, even some of them were singing, the other winter visitors, FIELDFARE and REDWING, were also seen on most habitats of my patch, in small groups of a dozen or less, but a flock of 62 Fieldfare, and 49 Redwing flew over.
Having finished my full patch visit, I felt decidedly cold, a damp cold right to my bones, and what appealed most was a comfy chair, and a hot cuppa whilst watching my garden feeders, but its at times like these that my competitive spirit kicks in, and i thought a skywatch over at Migrant alley might just give me a new bird for the year, I lasted half an hour, and didn't get anything new, but if I had gone home earlier I would have missed the BUZZARD that came low over, and the two LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS that swooped down playfully over the sheep pasture, where the BLACK HEADED GULLS had increased in number since I had been there earlier, 135 were counted, along with two COMMON GULLS. Two large skeins of geese were seen very high to the east, impossible to tell what they were, could have been anything, but they were not birds moving locally, these looked to be on mission, pity they weren't directly over head.
I did eventually settle for the comfy chair and hot tea by my window, and watched the garden visitors at the feeders, 18 species came in to feed, the best being Siskin, NUTHATCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, and Coal Tit, I had hoped to see my first Brambling of the year drop in, but despite a nice flock of 20 Chaffinch, one couldn't be persuaded down from the grey, bleak and cold sky.
Photography was almost impossible today, but I did get a shot of the GREENFINCH'S at the sunflower hearts, during a brief brighter interlude :-)