Monday, 5 January 2009

Freezing weather

After a good first two days of the New Year birding at Rainham and Alexandra Park, both sites have been less eventful since. My list for the latter has crept up to a modest 34, including Water Rail, Little Grebe and the recently elusive Redwing, and this last species was one of five patch ticks added in a short dawn sortie to Rainham today; the other four were Fieldfare, Sparrowhawk, Jay and Little Grebe, taking my 2009 site total to 74.

The two Little Grebes were in a small ice-hole on Aveley Pools that was teeming with birds in an otherwise frozen landscape; it was positively arctic first thing and I almost expected a seal to come up for air among all the Coots, ducks and gulls crowding the small patch of open water. There must have been the best part of 1,000 birds on the ice soon after first light, at least half of them Lapwings. The adjacent reedbed was frozen solid, and I flushed a Common Snipe from the boardwalk and had four Water Rails and two Cetti's Warblers, but no Bearded Tits (the main target) or Penduline Tits.

My only other London sighting of note this year was a female Blackcap in the garden yesterday, doubtless the bird first seen just before Christmas.


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