Yet again it was a very dull, damp day, never really getting light at all, and with a stiff wind blowing it was a very difficult 3 hour full patch visit today. I was still enthusiastic about getting out though, and had two birds on my target list, that I thought I had a chance of adding to the year list, the Greylag Goose, and Grey Heron.
I had walked along Ashes lane, checked the Greenhouse Complex Grounds, and crossed Migrant alley in near darkness, despite it being gone 08:00, and the daylist had reached just 10 species!! ROBIN, BLACKBIRD, WREN, CARRION CROW, SISKIN, BLUE TIT, REDWING, ROOK , JACKDAW and MAGPIE, my initial enthusiasm for the day was fading already, the College Grounds was a bit livelier, with HOUSE SPARROW, WOODPIGEON, JAY, GREAT TIT, COAL TIT and COLLARED DOVE being found, with flyovers by HERING GULL and FIELDFARE also going into the book.
The wind was really gusting as I crossed the College Sports pitch, where a few BLACK HEADED GULLS had congregated, but by the time I had got home for the half time drink, I had only added DUNNOCK, SONGTHRUSH, and STARLING to the list, which totaled a very poor 22 species, I would expect more like 34!
I left for the second half of the walk with plenty of species left to find, but they just were not forth coming, the Wet Woods did give a pair of TEAL, very nice, probably the same pair I saw earlier in the week, the only other species found here was a MOORHEN. The wind was playing a major part in not finding the birds, as I couldn't hear much above the roar, but I did hear some snatches of MISTLE THRUSH song, they love this weather!
I got to the lakes and scanned the main lake, here there were 18 MALLARD, and two Moorhen, the ornamental lake had just 2 Moorhen on it as well, but the third and smallest lake held the birds of the year so far ( for me!) 4 male TUFTED DUCK (64) Wahooooooo!!!! this is just the third record of Tufted Duck ever on my patch, 2 flew over in Dec. 2006, while a lone female was seen on this very lake in February last year, these are the first males to visit the lakes, and represent the largest gathering :-) A very exciting, and unexpected find, to brighten up the most dreary of days.
A look at the nearby garden, which has the feeders out, was boost for the list, with PHEASANT, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH, and GOLDFINCH, being added, and while I stood watching a, COMMON BUZZARD came low over, but was blown away again by the wind.
Walking through the Scrubby woods, I added some of the woodland species, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST, and TREECREEPER, but it was very hard going. I went back to the lakes before heading off home, to get my fill of the Tufties, they floated about, head down, and asleep, very pleasing :-) The last bird on my list was a flyover LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, bringing the final tally to just 37 species, a very, very poor total indeed. I had not seen Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, any Woodpeckers, Yellowhammer, Skylark or Pied Wagtail, all regulars usually.
Later in the day, I walked back over to the lakes, and I did find a few more species for the day, GREEN WOODPECKER being the first, as I crossed the Tree Nursery, swiftly followed by both SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL. On reaching the lake again, the Tufties were once again admired, and as I did so the KINGFISHER went across the lake, but nothing new was about duck-wise. On the way home I watched a STOCK DOVE go over, and a few minutes later a GREY HERON (65) the first this Year/month came over, battling the gusty wind, before dropping down over at the lakes.
The extended 5 hour visit had now produced 43 species, only just getting to the average I would expect for January, which now moves to 65 species, the same as last January, but still 3 off the record January of 2009.
Here they are!!!.....I was Glad I took my camera in the end...the mighty TUFTED DUCKS :-) Just look how dark it was out there!!!
This photo is of the scrubby woods beside the lakes, it looks completely dead now, but it will be ''buzzing'' in another 8 weeks :-)