Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Christmas Birding

I haven't got round to posting anything recently largely because it has been pretty quiet. The really warm winter while good for my health has not exactly done much for the birding with very little in the way of movement and numbers. Found that out on the 19th when I went down to Amwell for a few hours.
It was very warm-something like 15C and when the sun came out it felt more like a summer evening. Water levels were very high, but it did not seem attractive to ducks, there were not all that many at all. Presumably most were residents with the winter visitors remaining on the continent. The Smew is still around though, and there were small numbers of Teal and Shoveller. Gulls were coming and going all the time, mainly Black Headed and Lesser Black Backs, with a few Herring and Greater Black Backs. According to Barry Caspian Gull numbers have dropped from a high of six in the evening roost to maybe one or two now and again, though Yellow Legs are still coming in on a regular basis.
I went for a walk down to Hollycross with William, finding the odd unseasonal flower (and a 7 spot ladybird). The feeders were busy with two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, lots of Pheasants, Chaffinch and a few Greenfinch. One or two Redwing in the area but we failed to get the Marsh Tit. Something like 15 Siskins in the alders by the railway but little else of note.

The Christmas period has been spent indoors with only the garden birds to monitor, and it is pretty poor. Apart from the Wood Pigeons, two regular Collared Doves, two Dunnocks and one or two Robins and Blue Tits there has not been much. Even the regular male Blackbird counts as a highlight these days. The Goldfinches have gone, there have not been any House Sparrows for some time now (I suspect the recent council house refurbishing, including new roofs and exterior insulation during the nesting season has hit them very hard), and while Chaffinch and Great Tit are singing outside, they have not been down to the feeders.

Today was my first day out, and it was mainly to get some air and stretch my legs. For a change I went to Rye Meads as its been some time since my last visit. till rather mild for the time of year, and rather nice when the sun came out.
Not much of interest at the Draper Hide, but the gate just past it was quite good. Three Bullfinch flew off, and a lone male Brambling was feeding with the large Chaffinch flock. Throw in a few Fieldfare and Redwing as well and it almost felt like winter.
Two Green Sandpipers were on the north lagoon, which is always the most productive bit. There was a Water Pipit around a few weeks ago, and I had hoped it might still be around, if it is, it wasn't on the lagoon. The best spot for them used to be the Meads, but unless they are flooded it is pretty well impossible to see anything-even ducks and geese are hard to locate.
Best bird was the Cetti's Warbler on the way back that deafened me. I was frantically looking down in the reeds by the water's edge and failed to see it anywhere. Did not occur until too late to look in the Hawthorn in front of me and there it was a few feet away at eye level. Of course as soon as the camera swung it was off. Best views in a long time.
Here are a few recent images.

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