Like most people I woke up to a layer of snow this morning, not much, but enough to make it feel more like mid winter than early winter.
I hadn't planned to go out today but with it being the last day of November, and the possibility of a Goosander at Brooklands, how could I resist a quick visit? As yesterday I left the car in the drive and walked across the country park saying good morning to the Goldeneye on Alders Trout lake as I went past and also noting a couple of Gt Crested Grebes on the big lake, so maybe there are a few tiddlers still in there after all.
I made my way quickly down the Millstream path, passing the conservation lake and the round pond on the way, both of which are now frozen, much to the disgust of the young Mute Swan pictured above. A mixed flock of small birds caught my attention down the Millstream and I watched for a few minutes and was pleased to see a couple of Chiffchaffs among them. These are the first overwintering Chiffies i've seen here so far this year and their welcome presence takes my November New Hythe list to 57. I didn't expect that!
I stopped at the cafe at Brooklands and bought a cup of coffee and had a quick chat with Jerry Warne who was in the car park. He hadn't seen the Goosander, and if he couldn't find it I was pretty sure it wasn't there, which turned out to be the case. But never mind, the smart little Slavonian Grebe was still there and although the light was rubbish as usual I decided to try for some more pics of it. This meant getting closer to it, which isn't easy. I thought about smearing dirt over my face, sticking twigs and grass out of my hat and coat and crawling on my stomach through the mud and snow to the water's edge. But in the end I decided to wait behind the tree until it came past like I did last time, well, i'm not getting any younger and I also heeded Greenie's warning that I might get arrested one of these days for sneaking around down there. Anyway, it worked out OK, I got some pics and the bird never even knew it had been snapped. I know you're probably fed up with my pictures of it but brace yourself, because if we ever get a bright day I might try for some more!
Before heading back I had a quick look at the river from the small wood. Apart from the usual species here, I could see a Sandpiper on a mud bank further downstream, but due to the distance and the reeds obstructing my view I was unable to tell whether it was a Common or Green, so the monthly total will have to stay at 57. Other bits seen on the way back were two Snipe flying towards the river, at least thirteen Gt Crested Grebes on an otherwise disappointing Abbey Mead. About a dozen Teal on the Railway lake unusually, although I remember seeing some on there about this time last year, and a small flock of Siskins in the Alder trees next to the the divers' car park.