A flock of about 30 greylag geese flew over low from the direction of the river as I reached Brookland this morning which was a pleasant start. Even better was the female goldeneye which I picked up as I scanned the lake, probably the same one which I last saw there on the 18th January. A single lapwing, one canada goose and a lone reed bunting were along the river which although ebbing was still quite high. Still lots of bullfinch activity, I saw a flock of five as I came out of the sunken marsh but heard and saw lots more during the morning. The herons were also very evident again, with eleven birds perched on this side of the river opposite the heronry and many more on the banks and in the surrounding trees on the other side. Also at least twelve little grebe today including two on the river, seven on Abbey Mead and three at Brookland.
While I was at Abbey Mead I noticed a distant bird swimming under the overhanging branches which I couldn't identify, all I could make out at distance was a white front and dark head and body. I took a couple of long distance shots and zoomed them up on the camera but was still none the wiser. While I was doing this the bird started swimming towards the NW corner of the lake accompanied by another duck species so I walked towards the NW corner as quickly as possible to try and intercept them, but when I got there they had turned back, so I did as well. I hurried back from whence I came only to find no sign of them this time. I assumed that they must have swum into the bank, the only access to which is from, you guessed it, the NW corner where a little used path runs along the edge of the lake adjacent to an overflow stream. I couldn't let this go so off I went again, muttering under my breath, back down to the corner. I crept as quietly as I could along the path noting as I did so three piles of pigeon feathers along it, probably a favorite, quiet lunch spot for the local sparrowhawk. I reached the end of the path, disturbing a heron in the process, only to see the back end of the pair disappearing round the reeds back to the NE corner. Which is when I gave up and poured myself a cup of coffee. While I was drinking it three mallards and the mystery bird flew across in front of me out into the lake and I saw enough of it to recognise it as the duck of dubious parentage that i've seen on the river before hanging out with the mallards so all I could do was raise up my shotgun and blast it out of the sky, I didn't really, but only because I hadn't got a shotgun!
I checked Little Lunsford lake (Alders) on the way home and found the two goldeneye in residence still, the male looking absolutely pristine against the dead calm surface of the water. I also looked for the smew on the motorway lake but to no avail, I think she has moved on again, hopefully still local.
I posted the picture of the goldfinch in the garden simply because it was that or the b****y duck!