Well, after another not very nice week-the chest and throat problems remained, I managed to get out for a bit today. The weather has improved slightly, with a fair amount of warm Sunshine, which did help, but there is still a slight chilly northerly in the more exposed areas.
I got down to Amwell (only my third visit this year) at 0900 and stayed for just over three hours. There was not much to see from the viewpoint for a while. The Cormorants and Herons were gathering nest materials so Spring is not far off now. Few gulls-some Black Heads, three Common, and single loafing Lesser and Greater Black Backs. with occasional birds flying over. Duck numbers low still with Shoveller and Teal in the majority, a few Gadwall, and some Goldeneye. No sign of any Smew so I headed off to Tumbling Bay, picking up the usual Siskin flock and a singe female Bullfinch in the usual area around James Hide. I was about to carry on up when Phil and Bill called me back-apparently a Firecrest had been seen near the level crossing. When we got there, the usual Sunday crew were watching one of the ivy covered trees. Apparently someone had photographed a bird with a red stripe on its head-those who had seen the photo were not exactly convinced, but we hung around for while. Several Goldcrests were eventually located, and Bill played a Firecrest record ing but got no response.
I eventually made my way up through the woods picking up the Siskin again, along with a lot of Redwing and got to Tumbling Bay to rejoin the Sunday crew only to be told that they could not locate any Smew. I tried the wooded area to no avail, so we all decided to head down to Hollycross now that Phil has started the feeders going again. This did not achieve a great deal as there were very few birds in the area apart from a pair of displaying Buzzards. On the way back we stopped off at the Water Vole pit as a Bittern had apparently been seen a while earlier, but the guys there had spent half an hour with no sign.
I spent the last half hour at the viewpoint with Colin Wills, John Tony Hukin and Barnet Dave. More raptors in the air now that it had warmed up with eight or more Buzzard, Kestrel and Red Kites. A lot of the geese and ducks had departed, so we were spending most of the time talking. I was getting ready to leave when Dave picked up a drake Smew tucked in under one of the fallen trees on the far bank near the sluice. It was very hard to see, but I noticed a Red Head out in the open and eventually the Drake came out to join her.
Must admit I was hoping for more today, and it seemed to be a case of missing virtually everything but it was nice to be out and about again.