The Safari was allowed lie-in this morning so no Patch 1 safari. We did, however, get out fairly earlyish back to the big park for some woodland species twitching. We wandered around the bowling green area where the Treecreeper has been seen regularly to no avail. Down hill to the lake then, which was still mostly frozen. Another nice man appeared and threw copious amounts of bread at the ducks. In the ensuing melee we got a few pics off - might be missing summat but this new camera doesn't have the same high speed function as the old one even though it's an upgraded model...it does keep the pics at full quality which if we ever get it right will be an advantage.
That's some fast action - look at the splashes of water behind the duck, they're frozen in time and space. If you want a full belly in these cold conditions you've gotta be quick on to the food.
Taking advantage of the still open water were a few Cormorants.
One we noticed was a 'sinensis' type judging by its gape angle of almost 90°.
Also had an interesting tail - does it swim round in circles with a rudder like that? Seems an unusual sequence if it is part of the moult.
In the woods it was dark and cold, in fact as we write at 17.00 it's the 'hottest time of the day 1.1°C the rest of the day was only a fraction above freezing.
This was one of several Blackbirds which were taking advantage of the unfrozen ground in the shelter of the trees. Flippin dark under there!
We found a very timid Song Thrush that easily avoided the lens as did the many Blue Tits and most of the Great Tits which are mostly paired up now. Some kindly souls bring various foods out for the birds, one or two of them are lucky enough to have wild birds land on their hands they are that used to these people walking around nice and slowly. Their generosity makes getting close to the birds quite easy. Getting them to keep still when there's loads of dogs running round isn't quite to straightforward.
At the top end of the lake we heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker and looking round for a minute or so following our ears we found him high up on a dead tree. Another was drumming not very far away too.
With time running out we thought it best to give another Treecreeper hang-out by the bridges a try. On the way we heard a Nuthatch (113) calling. We whistled back and it got annoyed and started calling repeatedly giving us the chance to pin it down. We found it high up in the treetops and whistled at it, luckily it flew down to remonstrate with us landing close by on a dead snag. Aiming the camera we were just about to press the shutter when our legs were almost taken from under us by an idiot's Alsatian who thought going straight through us to chase the few feral geese grazing at the water's edge. Flippin numpty dog...and owner for not preventing it from disturbing the 'wild'life in the park.So no pic for you.
No Treecreeper either :-(...but as we headed back over the bridges to the Land Rover we saw a few Blackbirds and a smaller thrush, not wanting to pass up the opportunity of a pic of the flighty Song Thrush we putr our bins on it...not a Song Thrush at all but a Redwing (114) nice one!
On the lake from the bridges we counted 50+ Shovelers (we were doing OK until we came to a tight group of about 20 going round in circles feeding). Little Grebe was a species we rarely see in the park as were the six Gadwall. Call it lazy but we didn't count anything else.
At lunchtime Frank was ready for his walk so we hit Patch 1 where one of the Peregrines was on the ledge possibly after going hunting and coming back empty taloned. It was round the 'wrong' side and so a good bit further away than it would have been had it been sat on the 'right' side.
A more unusual sighting was this 1st winter Herring Gull sitting on one of the lamp posts - never seen a gull sit up there before and almost all the gulls hanging around the area at the moment are the paired up adults sussing out potential nest sites.
A little later in the afternoon we were helping prepare a ginormous corned beef hash - proper winter scram - when we looked out of the kitchen window to see the first Lesser Black Back Gull of the year flying over the garden (22).
Where to next? Perhaps we'll be on the trail of a Shorty and the Great White Egret which a few lucky observers spotted at the nature reserve yesterday.In the meantime let us know who's idiot dog was charging around all over your outback.