In a few days time January 2011 will be history. I'll remember it as a cold and sometimes very wet month, but most of all i'll remember it as a dark month. I know it does get dark early in the afternoon in January and I know it does stay dark later in the morning, but this time the bit in the middle seemed to stay dark as well. I didn't like that. Hopefully February will be brighter and lighter.
It was certainly cold today, just ask the Goldfinch pictured above, which was one of a flock that was feeding along the edge of Brooklands lake with a party of about twenty Siskins.
Other highlights included a couple of Mistle Thrushes in exactly the same spot where I saw them last week, on the bank to the east of Brooklands lake. About thirty or more Gadwall were on the river from the wood, along with two Redshanks, two Lapwings and two Gt Black-backed Gulls. A Chiffchaff was seen feeding along the southern edge of Brooklands which was species number 66 for the New Hythe Jan/year list. On Abbey Mead, apart from the usual characters, I found a single female Goldeneye and just one Little Grebe. Numbers of all species seemed quite low on this lake today.
No sign of Bittern again, that's two visits on the trot without seeing one, I must be losing my touch. The Goosander was still on Streamside lake but I couldn't see the Red-head Smew, I wouldn't be surprised if it is still there though, it can be quite hard to spot sometimes.
There were quite a few Fieldfares on the East Scrub where there are still quite a lot of berries, I wish somebody would tell the wandering Waxwings. Apart from a Green Woodpecker, the other interest in the scrub area were Goldfinches, lots of them. For once, a brief but very welcome break in the clouds allowed the sun to break through, what a treat! The Goldfinch pitured below looks a lot warmer and more relaxed than the fluffed up chilly specimen in the top picture, what a difference a ray makes.
The tide was out on the river as I made my way back, this gave the local Herons the opportunity to hang out together on the mud and discuss the finer points of fishing and nest building. I reckon there's fifteen or sixteen altogether, I tried to get a closer picture but it's difficult to creep past two Heron eyes, let alone thirty two. Left click for a better count!