The howling gales and heavy rain which woke me early this morning had largely dissipated by 9am, so I dragged myself out to Napton Reservoir for a 'quickie'. A good decision as it turned out.
It was bright, cold but largely still when I arrived - always a bonus at 'ice station napton', where the wind tends to blow strong and very, very cold. As I scanned the water I found a wonderful winter assortment (sounds like a christmas biscuit box) including some of the less common birds on my patch - a male and female wigeon, two male pochard, a cormorant, three snipe together on the edge of the reedbed, and a large gathering of 60+ common gulls. And in among those was even a patch first, a male goldeneye.
But despite the richness of the waterbirds on offer, I spent most of my time scanning the hedges and trees around the edge of the reservoir, watching huge flocks of starlings intermingled with redwing, fieldfare, blackbirds and a few song thrush. The starlings were everywhere - feeding on the floor, stripping berries from trees and flying from tree to tree in large flocks. Despite everything else which was around today (it was particularly nice to hear Cetti's Warbler song again), it was the starlings which were the star of a very pleasant morning.
Bird of the day: Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), an under-appreciated species which generally attracts little more than indifference. Look closer however and you'll find a bird which is beautiful in its own right and stunning in large groups.