I haven't done any birding or photography in the last few weeks. Its the typical end of the year slow down, the clocks have changed, the weather has gone downhill, enthusiasm has run out and the usual assortment of illnesses have been circulating around work and inevitably Ive had the one off cold cough and sore throat best described as Man Flu.
However, talking to Colin, I fully expected to have a trip out this weekend. Not a great deal happening so it would have been the default visit to Titchwell and or nearby sites where we would at least have a decent day out. Unfortunately it never happened, but I did get out on Saturday.
As I didn't need to get Mum out shopping yesterday, I planned to get out in the morning. There were a couple of possibilities. Rye Meads has a wintering Water Pipit plus a few other interesting birds, but I got the impression that there was an event on. Tyttenhanger has two rather mobile Great White Egrets but as their would be a reasonable chance of seeing one in Norfolk, and as its not a place I enjoy visiting I ended up inevitably at Amwell.
It was actually touch and go really. Freezing fog in Stevenage did not bode well, but by the time I reached Ware, the Sun was out and there were clear blue skies. It was rather cold though and never really improved over the course of the morning.
I was a bit surprised that no-one else was present, though eventually Alan Meadows and Ade appeared. Since my last visit the trust has done a bit of work around the main lake. The gravel island has been cleared of vegetation, and apparently a pit has been enlarged, the spoil creating a smaller island near the heronry. There was also supposed to have been a lot of work clearing the saplings from the reed beds but there seemed to be little evidence of that.
Birds were pretty much standard for the time of year-decent numbers of Pochard, Tufties and Gadwall, around 20 Wigeon and at least one pair of Goldeneye. Gull numbers were fluctuating all morning, with most being Black Headed and Common. A few larger gulls-Herring and Lesser Black Backs came and went. An attempt to turn one into Yellow Legged nearly succeeded but the light was poor and it flew off into the sun as we watched it. Inevitably the late evening gull roost reported Caspian, Yellow Legged and Med.
We walked down to Hollycross to see if the Red Crested Pochard was still around-it wasn't and as Phil had not put the feeders up we didn't bother with the meadow. On the way back a stop off at the Water Vole pool produced a very brief view of the Bittern as it crossed on of the bays cut in the reeds. A tit flock flew through but didn't have anything unusual in it, but earlier I had heard two calling Chiffchaffs along the tow path.
With the exception of two Sparrowhawks (the female bird again successful in it's Snipe hunt) there were no birds of prey taking advantage of the sunshine. I did see two Red Kites on my way back, one going over the house as I put the car away.