Just outside the visitors' centre was a large pool of water which had on it a good selection of our beautiful wildfowl, although I think these were some of the captive birds it did give us the chance to appreciate just how beautiful they are close up. You could clearly see the pale green patches on the back of the heads of some male Eiders and compare these with the duller females; there were Goldeneye, Pintail, Wigeon and a few Bewick and Whooper Swans. At odd times, they would swim together so we could compare the size of the slightly smaller Bewick and the smaller patch of yellow on its black beak.
A little further away is the larger area of water known as “The Mere” where you get more of the wild birds and here we saw a number of Whooper Swans, groups of Canada Geese, Greylag Geese and Pink-footed Geese, a lot of Shelduck plus Pochard, Pintail and Wigeon. A good number of Lapwings were seen but most of the other waders were more of a telescope job to see, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and the fify Ruff that Pekka counted. Also through his scope he spotted Stonechat and earlier another bird watcher let some of us have a look through his scope at a Buzzard perched on a fence stump.
Not long after a Kestrel was seen hovering in the distance, a Great Black-backed Gull was on a small island and we spotted three Herons just standing in the reeds on some smaller patches of water over to one side. Looking out from a different side of the hide we saw Magpies on a few occasions coming down to feed on a dead rabbit in the grass.
As we walked round to the different hides various smaller birds were seen such as Redwing, Tree Sparrows, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting and everyone’s Christmas favourite, the Robin.
It was time to move onto our second place of call over at Lunt Meadows, where in contrast to last year, we didn’t see anything unusual. On the areas of water we saw two Little Egrets and with the Black-headed Gulls were a few Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Coot and a Cormorant was seen and as we were standing watching we had Linnet, Robin, Wren and a Sparrowhawk flew past.
Even in the middle of all this bad weather I still found some White Dead Nettle in flower in contrast to the bright red Rose-hips on some Wild Rose bushes. We walked on a little further and as we stood on a bridge over a river looking out over some fields once again the scopes came in handy to check a large group of birds on the ground. These were mostly Rooks plus some Crows and Jackdaws with a group of Starlings near them.
After this, we decided to call it a day and head for home where we could all thaw out. Thanks to Al for the trip and to Joan and Jim for my lift.