Friday, 8 January 2010

Local news

Little to report bird-wise today, with just Coal Tit (heard) and Grey Wagtail new for my Alexandra Park year-list (the 43rd and 44th species respectively), but two Fieldfares over to the west and another north, plus a Skylark heading east, were also locally notable. Almost all the wildfowl have left the main reservoir now, which has a small ice hole dominated by Coots, and they are apparently sheltering on the Tunnel 'Reservoir' which is actually a wide stretch of the New River, and so mainly free of ice. Where the path crosses the New River at the filter beds two Little Grebes were the only other waterfowl of note.

I decided to work the scrub in case any Woodcock were sheltering in there. It is far less of a thicket now that the habitat has been 'managed', and while trudging through deep snow there I remembered the man we discovered living secretly within its densely vegetated recesses during the autumn. Astonishingly, as I approached an area of brambles, there he was again, lying under tarpaulins in the snow. I was shocked, and stood there disbelieving that someone could be sleeping out in thick snow in these temperatures. He began to stir, sensing my presence, so I retreated hastily, not wanting to alarm him. I was filled with sympathy, but also admiration that he is soldiering on out here. What affects a life so much that it comes to this? Many reasons, presumably, but to choose this existence over a shelter or hostel is desperate indeed.

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