31st. As I waved goodbye to 2015 little did I imagine that within hours I’d be sharing my time with a redhead Smew (patch tick) on New Years Day. Even less did I imagine that I would be watching it still on patch on the last day of January? Having deserted us for a few days it returned and clearly knows where it is well off as far as feeding goes and it’s certainly been an attraction for the bird watching fraternity and photographers. There must be lots of images out there now, but I make no apology for adding a few more. The Smew has been my top bird for the month, and it has been an excellent month with some great local birding.
The light was fading as Sam and I checked the lake out today. The Smew showed extremely well although the light at times was not all that it could have been, and at times swam with fellow saw-bills, the Goosanders. It was also good to see the return of a male Gadwall (you may remember a patch tick for me in December), and we are hoping that this species will now be a regular at the lake. Also present were Scaup (I’ll not entertain any suggestion that the bird we were watching isn’t a Scaup), Goldeneye in number and Pochard, the subtle markings of the female Pochard being much underestimated in terms of beauty in my opinion, along with Tufted Duck et al. Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard in the woodland as we walked towards the flock of Canada Geese settled around the pathway. The return walk following the pathway through the woodland showed just how much damage the recent winds had caused. I’m not sure if the wind is to be blamed for the state of the floating reed-bed, which if it moves any further may end up on the roadway! I don’t think anyone can blame the Mute Swans or other birds for the state of this floating eyesore on this occasion but that doesn’t rule out some trying to! We ended our day with the Smew.
Our day had begun with a visit to the Rising Sun Country Park, which I understand is to be featured on Countryfile on Sunday 7th February. (I’ll look forward to seeing some familiar faces). Our visit began with us picking up the call of Water Rail. The Red Deer stag appeared content in the field when we passed by on arrival.
We were unable to locate any Pintail on a still flooded Swallow Pond. There were numbers of Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck and the odd Shoveler present. Please note that I have now bowed to authority and have begun to spell Shoveler with one L only, although I confess that I still believe it ought to have two! A look (a very quick look) through the gulls brought nothing unusual to our attention.
Goosander with Smew
Of the thrushes, Redwing were the most abundant with maybe sixty plus in one field and more seen as we walked around the park. Blackbird numbers were high today and Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Fieldfare were all seen in smaller numbers. Bullfinches were showing very well during our walk and other bird seen included Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Canada Geese, Pheasant, Lapwing, Stock Dove, Goldcrest, tits and finches. A healthy looking Fox showed briefly.
I’d enjoyed the walk in the fresh cold air and warmed up quickly with a bowl of soup in the restraunt before we left for our own patch.
Goosander with Smew