I decided to walk along the path on the northern edge of Abbey Mead lake, adjacent to the water filled ditch which carries excess water from the Railway lake. This eventually empties into Abbey Mead where the path becomes a dead end, but affords quite good views of the unfrozen eastern edge of the lake. At last, in this narrow stretch of ice free water, I finally located the Red-head Smew that has eluded me for a while now, this is a new bird for the year and brings my total for New Hythe so far to 59 species. While I stood watching the distant Smew a Bittern came gliding lazily past me from the hidden northeast corner and crashed down in typically ungainly fashion into the reedbeds opposite. Not a bad start to the morning I thought!
At the start of the railway path my attention was drawn to the sound of quite loud, creaking and pinging noises coming from the corner of the lake. It turned out to be the action of the ripples moving the sheet of thin ice where it meets the open water, pictured below. I stood alongside listening for a couple of minutes, the wind was very light, there was no other sound and I found it quite eerie listening to the usually so quiet water.
All in all I would say it was generally very quiet today, it was more about quality than quantity, even though I did see 41 species in all. As I walked back to the car park with Dennnis and Doreen who I bumped into over in the country park, the quality continued when I spotted another Bittern (below) standing in the reeds in the northeast corner of Brooklands. This is right in the shadow and drowned by the noise of, the ghastly paper mill. Obviously, unlike me, the birds don't seem to mind it.
On reaching the car park we detoured a short way up the Millstream to look for a Water Rail but only found the two semi resident Teal and a couple of Moorhens. My last port of call was to Alders small lake aka the Trout lake where I was told the female/immature, had been joined by a male. My heart sunk as I arrived to find a couple of fishermen in situ but I soon located the pair at the far end of the lake and managed to get a couple of distant shots of them.
The first of the two pictures below show the male looking up at a gull as it passed low over it's head. And in the second one, appearing to lift his legs up and splash water at it, in an apparent attempt to tell it to sod off and leave him alone. Never seen that before! Mind you the gulls often do torment the life out of them as they surface with food.