Managed to get out with Colin today. We did not do a big trip, concentrating on a few close birds.
First stop was Priory Park in Bedford. Arrived just after 0800 to find it bitter with a nasty cold wind and very poor light. Did not take long to locate the Ferruginous Duck in with a flock of Pochard and Tufties.
The Black Necked Grebe was rather tougher as it was hiding behind the island on the western side, so we only had distant views. A few Redwing were the only other birds of note.
Headed up in to the fens via St Neots-the Ouse is very high with a lot of flooded fields. Not far from Sutton Gault we located a flock of wild swans-both Bewicks and Whooper.
We saw a few more distant birds as we headed over to Pymore. From the viaduct, a very strong wind was making the washes very rough. Unlike last year when it was incredibly dry, this year the water is very deep. There were small numbers of Wigeon and Teal all over, along with Pochard, Tufted and Mallard. Not much else and we never managed to see any raptors or owls in the area. There were large Wood Pigeon and Stock Dove flocks, and every now and then small parties of Fieldfare could be seen. A surprise while driving through Mildenhall was the small flock of Waxwings on the roadside wires.
We got to Thetford at about 1130. Two Marsh tits were singing in riverside trees and a short walk across a very muddy field brought us to the Black bellied Dipper which was very confiding-some were able to get within 10-15 feet.
With little else to go for in the area we headed home via Therfield Heath. The light was still very poor and the wind was still a problem, plus we had a brief shower. Took a long time to locate the Great Grey Shrike on the wires west of the path. Again there were no signs of any owls, the ring tail Harrier seen earlier did not show and neither did the Merlin. The usual pair of Kestrel and various Buzzards were the only raptors. The big flocks of Goldfinch and Linnets held a few Redpoll and Yellowhammer.