The weather for today's full patch walk had reverted back to the dull gloom that January 2011 will be remembered for, this, combined with the biting cold wind today, made for an uncomfortable visit.
I spent 3 and a half hours out this morning, the penultimate morning visit for January, and I was eager to try and add a new species to the January list, just one more would equal the best January total of 68 species, achieved in 2009.
I started off along Ashes lane, and made my way over to the College Grounds, via the Tree Nursery, Pub Field and Migrant Alley. As usual on a cold morning it took time for the birds to show, but slowly they showed themselves, ROBINS, JACKDAWS, WOODPIGEONS, and BLUE TITS were the first found, with flyovers from COLLARED DOVE, CARRION CROW, and HERRING GULL, two LINNETS flew from the Tree Nursery roost, they were late! BLACKBIRDS and DUNNOCKS called from the shrubs, and a PIED WAGTAIL flew over the nearby Greenhouses.
It was all going as expected, until crossing the Pub Field I looked up and saw two MUTE SWANS (68) flying over from the direction of Migrant Alley, that will do nicely, January record equalled and two days left to go :-) Further along the Pub field I also had a KESTREL flyover and a MEADOW PIPIT, the latter has been distinctly lacking on my patch this year so far.
Crossing Migrant Alley the most obvious birds were the 120 plus BLACK HEADED GULLS, but a lone LAPWING was in amongst them, just the 3rd record of Lapwing this month. The College Grounds had the normal useful species to add to the day list, GREENFINCH, GOLDFINCH, SONGTHRUSH, JAY, FIELDFARE and REDWING were all seen well.
The second half of the visit over to the lakes, was again noteworthy for the mixed feeding flocks seen. The first was in the Alpaca paddock, in the small holding, where a dozen each of Greenfinch, and CHAFFINCH were joined by a Redwing, but more incongruous was seeing 25 Blue Tits on the floor, the blue plumage really stuck out against the green turf, quite strange to see such a large gathering of tits on the floor.
Another mixed feeding flock was in the Wet Woods, this was the one I came across yesterday afternoon no doubt, it was a few birds smaller though, just one TREECREEPER and two NUTHATCH had joined the LONG TAILED TITS, but there were also still the 6 GOLDCREST at least, making for a good total of ten seen overall today. A dozen SISKIN were above in the Alders, but weren't associating with the flock.
Over on the lakes, just 3 MOORHEN and a lone drake MALLARD were seen, but the woody scrub provided me with good views of the MARSH TIT, a few BULLFINCH'S, feeding on sycamore keys, and two GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS chasing one another through the treetops. A CORMORANT was a good addition to the days sightings, it circled over but didn't alight on the water.
he light, as mentioned was poor, but I did take the camera out just in case :-)
This pair of Mallard were on the run off pool at the bottom end of the Pub field