Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday 11th February 2012

And I thought it was cold last week! -12.5C this morning when I left the house. On arrival at the park fog had descended so nothing could be seen on the main lake. Not a promising start but I met up with JA and we headed down to Fingers in the hope of some Little Egrets sleeping in. The meadow by the Visitor Centre resembled a snowman graveyard following the snow in the week. No Egrets to be seen but we did a loop of the Crescent reed bed and had 6 Corn Buntings leave the roost and a singing Reed Bunting. Fingers was solid ice so nothing doing there. DK arrived as we headed back to the main path, he'd had a Water Rail at the bottom of the steps. Amazingly there is a tiny patch of ice free water there and the birds all know it.

A walk up to 100 Acre produced very little due to the fog but there was a single Teal and a Gadwall with 3 Mallards at the end of the New Cut where we found some ice free water.

Back in the park, we cut through the Woodland Walk on our way back to Fingers. Exiting the wood we had a Sparrowhawk flying low across the New Meadow and over the Sheep Pen. It was very quiet around Fingers and DK's Water Rail was long gone. Back on the main path and the sun was just visible through the fog, I noticed a couple of prominent sun spots just below the centre of the sun.  

Sun Spots
JA spotted a Goldfinch in the Alders by the Crescent. The frosted branches contrasted nicely with the birds plumage.   

Goldfinch in Frosty Alder
By this time, amazingly, the fog had lifted and we could see across the main lake, and the fact that the wildfowl had managed to keep a sizable patch of water ice free. We headed around to the main lake hide where DK had already done a count of the ducks. Numbers remained consistent except for the Pochard which had reduced over the week.

We headed around to the Fenlake Meadows view point and flushed a Kingfisher from his perch at the Leat Pool. On Fenlake a Common Buzzard was in his usual tree. There was little else of note otherwise and the river was frozen across it's entire width here.

Common Buzzard
Along the west side of the main lake, behind the sailing club we had a few Greenfinch before we came across some superb ice formations caused by a burst pipe on the marina side of the wall.

Iced branches at the top of the wall
On the ground, at the base of the above formation, the ice had built up like stalagmites, encapsulating vegetation including a couple of grass stems.
Grass on ice! 
With a beautiful blue sky by this time the frosted branches of the trees looked stunning.
Frosted branches against blue sky
It may have been cold but it made for some great photo opportunities. Nothing to add to the sightings board today but a superb morning none-the-less.

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