Well the big news is of course the weather and what amazes me is how some of the birds and small creatures survive it, but a bit of assistance from us always helps.
The mouse above, Wood or Yellow Necked, i'm not sure which, has been scurrying to and fro across the patio for some time now. I know which route he always takes so i've been putting a handful of peanuts out for him each day during the cold spell. The picture was taken through the patio doors and this time I really was laying on my stomach, it's not so bad when it's on a nice soft carpet!
Today I walked to Tesco's and got some groceries for my parents who like so many people are temporarily housebound. They live at the far end of Snodland and the only way to deliver them was on foot, luckily the most direct route is across the country park, down to Brooklands and then through the town. So obviously I took the camera and binoculars, just in case, and these are some of the birds I saw on the way.
At the Bittern viewpoint I saw two Common Snipe and heard a Redshank calling from somewhere in the distance. No Bittern seen but as I stood there I heard what I thought was a Goldcrest calling from the nearby small wood, but it wasn't a Goldcrest it was a Treecreeper, i've seen them here before but not for a long time. I watched for a while and it gradually came a bit closer allowing me to get a few shots in (below) before it moved on. It wasn't the easiest thing to photograph, hardly ever stopping in it's search for food. I really like these birds with their mottled brown upperparts, down curved bill and long claws, ideal for climbing up treetrunks, but never down apparently. Shame I don't see them very often.
The next surprise was a Woodcock which flew up from the same wood as I made my way through it to the Millstream path. It came up about fifteen feet away and flew right past me, close enough to hear the wingbeats and giving me a great view. It circled briefly through the trees and then disappeared, no picture but a super and unexpected sighting.
I did find a Goldcrest later, further down the footpath, it was with a flock of Long Tailed, Blue and Great Tits which were making their way through the snow covered undergrowth. Then further down the path, just before the Brooklands car park I was lucky enough to see my first Water Rail since 1st Feb this year, in it's usual spot among the tree roots and marshy pools.
Groceries delivered, I returned via Brooklands lake to see what I could find. Alan Woodcock had earlier seen some Wigeon there but I couldn't locate them through the gloom and mist emanating from the mill, but I did see a female Goldeneye. It came to the edge of the lake further round so I made my way through the near virgin snow to try and get a picture, but no luck, it was away to the middle of the lake before I could get near. Just before I turned away from the edge of the lake to follow the railway path, pictured below, I found the Slavonian Grebe, close in the margins, but time was running out on me so I left it undisturbed and made my way home without incident.
I didn't keep a list of species today so i'll search my memory banks later and start the December New Hythe list. I also took a few other photo's of a much commoner species today but i'll post those tomorrow.