I think many of us was surprised as we all got out of our pits this morning to discover snow on the ground. It was only around the inch mark but I for one love a bit of snow. It transforms our countryside for the better. Its just a shame our transport network has a total meltdown with anything over a centimetre of snow. I love the cold weather, the colder the better, and couldn't wait to kit up and get birding. I am on call now for a couple of weeks so am stuck with local birding, so I decided to leave the car at home, put on my wellies and stride out into the sunrise.
First stop the gravel pit by the A38 and access here is getting worse. They have blocked the access by the lay-by and now if you go in via the sewage works and walk around the small pool, there is a brand new post and barb wire fence. Why? It makes no sense. I am going to have to find the old Salters Way route on the internet and find the correct route in. To the birding and there was plenty of wildfowl on the lake and also passing over as the distant guns started the killings. Birds noted were Pochard, Coot, Tufted Duck, Wren, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Shoveler, Moorhen, Mallard, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Grey Heron, Black-headed Gull, Wigeon, Great Crested Grebe, Carrion Crow, Meadow Pipit, Cormorant, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Robin, Chaffinch, Snipe, Lapwing, Starling, Redwing and Fieldfare. A nice start. Over the railway and into.......
The birding on this site has been pretty slow this year so I decided to take in a lot more of this site than I usually would. Birds noted were Pied Wagtail, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Skylark a flock of around 150 flew low and straight over my head and over towards Croxall GP, Redwing, Blackbird, Robin, Snipe 30+ birds were seen lifting from in between the trees as I walked round, in various areas, Fieldfare, Blue Tit, Black-headed Gull, Wren, Pheasant, Mallard, Teal, Chaffinch, Goosander several pairs were either on the river, flying overhead, or singles flying along the river - a good day for them, Moorhen, little Grebe, Canada Geese, Cormorant, Goldfinch, Greylag Geese, starling, Sparrowhawk, Lapwing, Jay, Magpie, Long-tailed Tit, Dunnock, Great Tit, Goldcrest, Grey Heron, and a single Mute Swan on the river. A pretty good list for here but some of the birds were hard work. I have never seen those numbers of Skylarks in one go before. It was amazing as they flew low and directly over.
As usual I checked out Junction Pit and found the water levels still very low so nothing was on the sandy side. On the pool there was only very low numbers of Reed bunting, Blackbird, Mallard, Goosander, Goldeneye, Coot, Wood Pigeon, Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Grey Heron, Carrion Crow and a Pheasant calling. I bet there wasnt twenty birds in total. Rubbish.
As I was only a few yards from the viaduct I decided to have a quick look to see if anything was on the wides. Another waste of time with only Black-headed Gull, a few Snipe and a couple of Lapwing.
Usually, after the arboretum I would head over to Whitemoor Haye as, having already walked a few miles in wellies, fatigue would usually be setting in. But today I strode on in the direction of Croxall as, whilst in the arboretum, I noticed a big flock of Lapwings so I thought it would be worth a look. Upto and from the first Hide I noted Wren, Chaffinch, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Fieldfare, Goldfinch, Buzzard, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Mistle Thrush, Dunnock, Grey Heron, Coot, Lapwing, Blue Tit, Teal, Great Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Robin, Goosander, Canada Geese, 10 Dunlin, 7 Redshank, Goldeneye, Canada Geese, about 23 Snipe around the lake edge, and Magpie. through the tunnel and into the east side and I walked around the whole edge of the reserve adding Jackdaw, Skylark, Long-tailed Tit, Cormorant, Rook, Pintail a drake was on th river - was this the same bird that was at Whitemoor Haye last Monday as its an unusual bird around here, Meadow Pipit and Wigeon. Heading out of the reserve I added Greenfinch and Bullfinch. Well worth the visit, even though I was outnumbered by fishermen!!!!
It isnt easy walking miles in wellies. Fortunately I have muck boots which are great boots to walk in, even though my feet were starting to hurt and I still had about three miles to walk all around Whitemoor before a mile back home. With gritted teeth I persevered. Birds noted were Grey Heron, Blackbird, Redwing, Chaffinch, Robin, Wren, Carrion Crow and Dunnock on entering Whitemoor Haye. At the pool I added Teal, lapwing, Mallard, Wigeon, Magpie, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Goldeneye, Cormorant and Black-headed Gull. From the pool I wlked around the rough track and added Starling, Wood Pigeon, Pied Wagtail, Skylark, Blue Tit, Sparrowhawk, Meadow Pipit, Kestrel, Mute Swan 254 of them, Golden Plover, Goldfinch, Buzzard, Grey Partridge 5, and Tree Sparrow. On the way out I had a sit down on the barriers by the pool, had another quick scan and added Redshank, Snipe, Dunlin, Linnet, Greenfinch, Canada Geese and to finish off, a fine male Bullfinch.
after the huge group of Skylarks in the arboretum, I came across another flock as I was counting the Mute Swans. This time there was around 60 feeding in the same field. Fantastic. Hometime now as im knackered.