It was crisp and bright beneath a blue sky when I met Alan Roman in Brooklands car park this morning. We had hardly exchanged pleasantries and commented on the weather before Alan spotted a snipe flying over the car park, good start to the morning. We were immediately greeted by the familiar sight this winter of ice on Brooklands lake, this coupled with the unfamiliar sight of a big bright orange thing hanging low in the sky made it difficult to see anything here. We were pleased however to find the Water Rail in residence in the NE corner of the lake where i've seen it a few times now. I have to say, if my name was Walter Rail i'd find somewhere nicer to skulk around in, the noise and fumes from the adjacent factory are horrendous.
We walked on to the small wood by the river and was pleased to see that it was low tide. Looking upstream we could see seven Shelduck in the margins of the exposed island, that's the most i've seen here this winter. Looking downstream we found two Grey Wagtails on the mudbank and opposite us on the far bank a single Redshank flew past screaming blue murder like they do. The sunken marsh as usual kept it's secrets hidden but we did find another three Shelducks on the river here, although there's every possibility that these were part of the group of seven seen earlier. It was interesting to hear them making a strange low pitched call which i've never heard before, I believe it's the females that do this. As we came out of the marsh area we noted at least a dozen Herons, possibly more, standing in a row along the riverbank. On the other side of the river the trees were also full of them, mostly perched on the tops and silhouetted against the sky looking like sentinels guarding the Heronry.
Abbey Mead lake was also frozen with just a small patch of clear water along the eastern side occupied mostly by Pochard, Little and Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Ducks, Coots and a couple of Gadwall. A Sparrowhawk also made a guest appearance flying across the lake below and a Buzzard drifted slowly across high above us.
Just one Fieldfare and one Redwing were spotted along the edge of the East Scrub and despite a detailed search of the Alder trees along the edge of Streamside lake no Siskin or Redpoll were found. Mind you, the large, noisy, bright yellow digger being used to dredge the stream alongside the divers' car park probably didn't help! I fail to understand why this needs to be dredged, it's not a stream, it doesn't flow, it's just a water filled ditch full of Damselfly larvae, Dragonfly larvae and Water Voles.........or at least it was.
Not much else to report after that as far as I can recall apart from one more Grey Wagtail in the water treatment area, but unfortunately no Pied Wagtail yet so no additions to my NH year list today.
As I drove home I turned right into Lunsford Lane and there was a coot running along the pavement, how bizarre! It must have come out of Alders lake and crossed the very busy Leybourne Way without getting squashed, unless of course it used the Pelican Crossing..........a peculiar bird is the Pelican.........! Final note is the return of the Moorhen to my back garden today.