The holiday period is probably well and truly over for most, dinners have now been fully walked off, resolution lists safely mislaid and diminishing sales bargains increasingly ignored.
But trust all enjoyed an enjoyable christmas, and best wishes for 2015, birding and otherwise!
For the birds of course, life carries on pretty much the same, albeit possibly with a little more (or a lot, depending on location) disturbance. The usual worry (inasmuch as birds 'worry') over next meal, predator avoidance and keeping warm the ongoing concerns for our feathered friends, as opposed to heating bills, credit cards, year lists and the like.
The feeding station from the hide window ... blue skies!
Many of the usual suspects were present upon my arrival at the Southern Hide, with a few notable additions - four Woodpigeons blasting up from under the feeders as I approached the hide. I guess they belong as much as any other species, but not usually amongst the most welcomed bird feeder visitors, it has to be said.
Not having to worry over any possible favouritisms on this one, a dazzling Kingfisher brightly arraigned on a branch in front of the hide was much more of a pleasant surprise - guilty only perhaps of being too bright on a typical winter's day (various small fry may well argue otherwise).
Twenty plus Teal were scattered about (there could have been twice that number hidden), and the Great Spotted Woodpecker flew past. Didn't see the Water Rail myself on this occasion, but it was reported in the notebook from earlier in the day.
The view from the main hide was strangely devoid of birds - a few distant gulls and the regular Little Egret the only birds to be seen ... Hmmm, I think. Fair enough weather and holiday time? - yep, most probably down to human disturbance again. And of course, on returning from the feeders and checking it out properly it almost undoubtably was - one young fellow down near the shoreline with two tripods, and all the Canada Geese and other waterfowl on the water halfway up the lake. He wasn't actually inside the nature area, and I don't actually believe there is any such thing as 'common' sense, but he must have been aware that his presence wasn't doing the birds any good, surely, standing there in the open? They do say fieldcraft is a lost art ....
There were still a few Little Grebes and the Slavonian down at the southern end (the latter perhaps why our 'friend' was away from all cover and near the waters edge, at a guess?), but most birds had shifted well north. Halfway to the dam and I was able to count a reasonable variety of waterfowl - c130 Canada Goose (including the two (presumed Greylag/Canada) hybrids), 60+ Wigeon and 50+ Mallard. Highlight however was a party of 4 Shoveler - 1 male and 3 female types (didn't get around to ascertaining exactly - the light was fading and I wanted to scan a little further ahead). Certainly a 2014/2015 winter tick for myself.
Shoveler party (looking a little hungover, perhaps? )
A Buzzard (aka Worm-eating Eagle) looking as regal as ever broke the skyline to my right, and towards the northern end of the lake a group of 6 female (type) Goldeneye bobbed and dived . 2 Pochard (a male and a female) completed the line up with a Cormorant and uncounted numbers of Tufted Duck and Coot (there weren't that many; I just didn't count them).
Little Grebe numbers that I was aware of crept up to 16 in number, and that was mostly it. Darkness didn't fall, but it was getting decidedly gloomier as the day crept towards its end.
The view north from the east side, showing whence all the birds had gone.
Other recent sightings of note;
28/12/14 - 6 Redwing, 70+ Woodpigeon, 2 Little Egret (J and F Rice)
31/12/14 - Bullfinch (S Martin)
01/01/2015 -1 male Goldeneye, Slavonian Grebe and 10 Pochard from the SH hide (G Adams)
Thanks to S and J Martin for the donated seed and other bird food!