Well, newly togged in my cold weather gear...
... I FINALLY managed to get to the patch for a couple of hours. Hadn't realised just how long it had been - almost a month! Not much to see bird wise at it turned out as everywhere was pretty much frozen solid. At the Eastern Reedbed nothing stirred except for the resident tame Robin that I snapped on my mobile phone(above) and a rather mangey looking female fox that briefly edged along the snow-covered ice of the pool before vanishing back into the reeds.
The Eastern Reedbed
Millbrook Pool was similarly frozen solid and there were tracks at least of where a fox had been there too. Nothing else stirred. No sound. A quick jaunt to the river by the railway bridge east of ERB didn't throw up the hoped for Goosander (still!), but did provide another nice winter patch snap... oh and 3 Cormorants and 3 Moorhens.
The eastern River
Nearly pranged the car doing the 90 degrees turn up the track to Pumphouse Pool...
Track to Pumphouse
... and so decided to play safe, park up and walk to the eastern hide. No sign of the recently reported Jack Snipe, Common Snipe or Redshank on the little inlet today, just a trickle of water, more ice and snow and 8 Common Gulls... which is actually not a bad count for here.
Quick visit to Birchwood Pool west hide yielded lots of Black-headed Gulls and a sprinkling of larger Larids. Alas no white-wings, but again, good numbers of Common Gull. Checked them all - no Ring-billed needless to say, but there were a couple of slightly darker streakier headed birds L.c.henei maybe? Dunno, I'm not so hot on gulls. Here though there was a little open water along the north shore into which some of the gulls were packed, washing and among which were a handful of Moorhen and about 30 Coots... and that was it. Decided to walk back via the feeding station and up Lapwing Lane. Glad I did as the Tawny Owl was back on its usual roost and all fluffed up against the cold. Could just see her head above the ivy. A few tits and finches later and I was at the feeding station. No woodpeckers or Nuthatch, but the most grey squirrels raiding the various feeders that I've seen here - NINE. Otherwise it was the usual birdy suspects... Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Chaffinch and Reed Bunting. Unfortunately for our rather impoverished Coal Tit population though, the numbers went down by another one as a male Sparrowhawk clattered in and grabbed one off the feeders. Doh!
Lapwing Lake was solid white and had no birds at all... beg pardon... had 1 Common Snipe that flew off as I arrived and so it was time to leave. Where has everything gone? Well, not on the ship canal as far as I could tell... except for about another 40 Coots close to the swing bridge and hundreds of gulls on the ice down near the warehouses. Hmmm. Worth checking the Angler's Pool for completeness I reasoned. Aha! Birdage!! There, crammed into a patch of open water on the south shore were lots of wildfowl. I counted 125+ Coots and good numbers of Tufties, Mallard and Moorhen together with the odd Gadwall. Didn't have my scope on a pod else would have done a proper count... but at least it accounted for a few of our AWOL locals. Next visit I must see what's going on on Upper Moss Side and Halfway House. Wonder when I'll manage THAT! Ho hum...