20 November 2005

Great Northern Divers and a proper winter

Ah, now that's more like it! Minus 4 degrees, a mist so thick you can't see the water's edge , and a Great Northern Diver on the local reservoir - that's what I call a proper winter's morning.

After a few busy weeks with little or no time for birding, I was up at the crack of dawn today and down to Draycote by 7.20am. The mist was a real pea-souper, and to start with I could see only a short distance to the very edge of the water. Gradually things improved, and I found most of the usual winter birds - large numbers of Coot, Moorhen, Tufties, Wigeon, Lapwing etc. I was also pleased to find my first winter Goosander (2) and Goldeneye (perhaps a dozen in all).

On the far side (Draycote Bank) I discovered a Great Northern Diver - a wonderful bird that when feeding actually spends more of its time beneath water than above it. I've often mused on which environment it would call home, given the choice.

Anyway, despite my six warm layers (including a fab new padded army jacket), I was in need of some warmth and nourishment after a couple of hours. So I headed off to nearby Brandon Marsh for a hearty breakfast, and then ventured out for a final hour's birding. Three Snipe, a Sparrowhawk, a Common Gull and my first Fieldfare of the season were among the highlights, along with a fox which we watched prowl the far bank for five minutes or more.

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