Did not go for the Western Orphean Warbler last Sunday as planned-a stomach bug took care of that. Reckon I've lost around a dozen lifers over the years by sudden illnesses-would be much higher but I have had second chances with some birds.
Very cold northerly wind today, and not much fun on the Amwell watch point. Went down to the Gladwin hide to get some shelter and hopefully the Smew. Met Barry on the way down and had a brief chat. After about fifteen minutes the 1w drake Smew appeared behind the willows at the extreme southern end. Not very good views. Maybe six Goldeneyes were down this end and around the main island.
While waiting I spent some time digiscoping the cormorants opposite. The very poor lighting not a great help.
Eventually made my way to the Hollycross feeders bumping into a returning Tony and being joined by Simon. Bill was already there. Spent a good 45 minutes but no sign of the Bramblings. Lots of Chaffinch and Goldfinches, several Great, Blue and Coal Tits and the two Marsh Tits appeared briefly. One Greenfinch and an over flying Redpoll as well.
Lot of noise from the hawthorns-a Stoat was trying to take a huge buck Rabbit and it was a long slow struggle. The Magpies and Tits seemed to take an interest.
Returned to the now milder watch point around 1130 meeting Stevenage Dave and Ron Cousins. The Smew was back in it's usual bay and showed well in the scope.