A great morning's patch birding, starting at Ufton Fields and moving on to Napton Reservoir.
I was inspired to visit Ufton for the first time in quite some time by the new Warwickshire Wildlife Trust reserves guide - a very good book indeed which rates Ufton as one of the best reserves in the trust's repertoire. And indeed it is a very interesting place, not only for the flora and associated invertebrates for which it is renowned, but also for birds - if you look hard and get a little luck.
The key challenge is that the path runs round the perimeter of what is a largish reserve, meaning that anything in the dense and wooded interior is out of sight. Today was a case in point - I found 25 or more Siskin in an alder tree near the edge, but they soon flew towards the middle and I never did see them again. A few minutes later and I would never have known that they were there.
However, today was a more than decent day, with 28 different species including the aforementioned Siskins, a pair of Bullfinch, a couple of Treecreepers, a Buzzard and two Kestrels, fields full of Fieldfare and Redwing, a couple of Song Thrushes (still curiously quiet for mid-January), my first ever Ufton Teal (a male), great views of a Kingfisher, a probable Snipe flying over, and plenty of Goldcrests around the whole site.
The weather was fine, so I pressed on to Napton, a completely different habitat (deep open water) guaranteeing a completely different set of species. And again, no disappointment today - along with a massive 80 Coots was a Cormorant (flying off towards Draycote), 20 or more Common Gulls with a few Black-headed Gulls, a couple of male Pochard, five Great Crested Grebes and a Little Grebe, and a lone Goosander, a splendid male.
With the Wren and House Sparrows that greeted me when I arrived home, this made 43 species in a few hours local birding. Fantastic.
Bird of the day: Goosander (Mergus merganser), a splendidly sleek creature, and a scarce patch bird.