Lackford Lakes Reserve, December 13 2018

A grey day with a cool breeze was quite a contrast to the previous day’s glorious sunshine when Barry Milner’s Birders recorded 86 species here to, on this day, our 39 species! Perhaps we need to pay more attention!

Volunteers were felling trees alongside the sailing lake so the path was closed. Thisplus the carrot of an elusive bittern from Steggall’s hide saw us heading for that moredistant part of the reserve to begin our day, whilst birding along the way.

We remarked how quiet the wood was just as we saw a confiding grey wagtail foraging in a shallow leaf filled ditch on our left, constantly dipping its tail as it progressed. The sexes look much alike in winter, the male loses his black bib and the yellow lightens; on our brief encounter we were unable to discern whether male or female. Certainly a bird we have not seen before at Lackford, thus one of our highlights.

We had Steggalls to ourselves so settled down for a bittern search. Peter panned his telescope up and down the reeds several times but Bertie Bittern was not to be found.

However, into the scope appeared a shock of blue, a kingfisher, perched on willow at the waterside. It sat there for some time, sufficient for all to take a peek at thisbrilliantly coloured bird through the scope. And then try to locate it through the ‘bins’.A few tried to photograph it but it was a good distance away; were the long lenses long enough? Suffice to say another highlight.

Retracing our steps we diverted to Kingfisher hide where we had close but difficult to find views of a very cryptic snipe. Here again, although close up, the telescope came to the fore and we marvelled at the perfection of camouflage and the length of the bill in relation to body size as it quietly rooted around in a trimmed patch of reeds.

Next, to the Slough, where most of the usual culprits were to be seen. Teal seemed to be the most numerous. Sheila Hawthorne locked onto another kingfisher, close to and to the right of the hide, low down near the water. Once again we had lingeringviews but mainly of the bird’s russet chest as it faced us.

There were many birds on the sailing lake, a good many coots and tufties but the bird we always love to see at this time of year is the very smart goldeneye. There were at least three males and as many females diving for invertebrates and plant material. Most goldeneye are winter visitors from northern Europe but increasingly birds are staying to breed, usually in holes in trees; Scotland is mainly favoured by those staying to raise chicks.

We listed 39 species seen in the Three Kings, Fornham All Saints, over a very pleasant lunch:

Birds seen: Blue tit, great tit, long tailed tit, coal tit, wren, dunnock, blackbird, robin, bullfinch, goldfinch, siskin, crow, woodpigeon, magpie, jay. Coot, moorhen, black headed gull, lesser black backed gull, lapwing, snipe. Tufted duck, goldeneye, teal, pochard, gadwall, wigeon, mallard, shoveler, little grebe. Cormorant, Canada, Barnacle and Egyptian geese. Grey heron, little egret, mute swan.

Star Birds: Grey wagtail and Kingfisher

Birds heard only: Nuthatch, Green woodpecker