Today we decided as the day was bright and sunny we would go birding around Leicestershire and Rutland so we quickly assembled a rudimentary picnic and flask of coffee fuelled up the car and set off for Eyebrook reservoir having looked on line for what was about.
We realised our limitations as we stepped outside the vehicle. the wind had obviously come straight from Siberia and passed through every item of clothing was were wearing. Within minutes we were chilled and after half an hour we were shivering uncontrollably. Still the drive was very beautiful. flocks of lapwings over the meadows were very attractive. The early cherry trees were in blossom and the hazel trees were full of catkins. On the way we had excellent views of red kite hunting over the A606 and of kestrel also hunting along the road verges. We stopped off at the little owl tree with no success, unsurprisingly the little owl shared my sentiments and was keeping well out of the wind inside the tree trunk I suspect.
This disappointment was ameliorated by the sight of over 50 field fares and a single redwing in this field. We spent a few minutes watching these delightful birds feeding before a car appeared in the lane and we were forced to move. We found a small flock of very plump red legged partridges, huddled against the wind.
A curlew and a green sandpiper were feeding in the edge of the mud near the bridge of the reservoir, whilst a small flock of dunlin rushed and scurried amongst the legs of the lapwings all resting on the mud. A single stonechat was perched briefly on a thistle seed head.
On the water there were lots of goldeneye ducks the males dived every time we managed to get a fix in the binoculars, the swans were all feeing together in s flock. I assumed this was to maximise warmth. imagine our surprise when in amongst them we found a pair of male smew in full winter plumage and a couple of red headed females as well. We found all the usual suspects, coot, moorhen, tufted ducks, mallard, shoveler, teal and wigeon, cormorant and a variety of gulls. A red kite hunted close to the car providing us with excellent views, a pair of buzzards hunted the fields above the reservoir.
We found a grey heron looking as miserable and hunched as usual was keeping out of the wind at the far edge of the water and three little egrets crouched in the rough grassland at the dam end of the inflow. On the opposite side of the road from the inflow the bird feeders were alive with four species of tits ( blue tit, great tit, long tailed tit and coal tit). We saw a large flock of lapwing with other waders fly around before returning to feed on a field. We tracked the birds down and found approximately 20 golden plover their dark eyes making them look particularly sleepy. Over a dozen dunlin scurried amongst the larger waders. At the main car park chaffinches robins and dunnocks fluttered on the ground beneath the feeders whilst the tits and a solitary tree sparrow fed on the seed.
We could hear the calls of the wigeon on the water beside the car. We ate lunch inside the car and made our way to the north arm of Rutland water where we were rewarded with a male goosander and four black necked grebes a little grebe.
As you can see the place was very attractive
By mid afternoon the cold had seeped through my clothes and I was finding it difficult to maintain any heat so I persuaded your father to head for home. We had just settled ourselves down to watch some TV with a mug of tea when the storm struck and it grew dark the snow came swirling down then turning to hail and sleet some fifteen minutes later. It has developed into an extremely cold might with an amber warning of snow tomorrow. This is a pity as I had hoped for a drive to Sherwood Forest to search for some woodpeckers.
We had 55 species of bird, with thirteen new species for the year. The highlights were the smew. the temperature was five degrees but the wind chill made it about freezing.
More updates later in the week
your loving mother