The sunshine lured me out for a final January visit to the patch, the water level in the Lea and the overflow channel is definitely on the way down which is good news for seeing more stuff on them. The Lea at the Southern end of the Pitch’n’Putt course held many of the usual suspects, perhaps more Gadwall than usual; they certainly seem to be present in larger numbers than usual. A few Teal and Tufted Ducks were also loafing in the river and a nice white-breasted Cormorant doing its best to look like the Moroccan sub-species.
Talking of sub-species (neat segway eh?) a Chiffchaff was calling from near the Friend’s bridge, it took me a moment or two to realise it did not have the typical disyllabic ‘hoo-et’ call but a rather monosyllabic call. I whipped out the iphone and played ‘collybita’......nada. I googled xeno-canto, played ‘tristis’ and up it popped! Sadly the bird neither looked nor sounded like ‘tristis’ frustratingly whilst I fiddled with the phone looking for ‘abietinus’ the bird moved on, but I suspect that’s what it was. It made me even more piqued not to have laid eyes on the bird I had on the marsh last week.
Another 2 or 3 Chiffchaffs were calling on the Waterworks N.R. also there a snoozing Green Sandpiper on one of the filter beds and a spanking adult Grey Heron collecting sticks, it wants to get a move on as most of its mates are on nests on the reservoirs by now.
Another good sign (!) was a Chironomid Midge flying into my ear, I didn’t necessarily appreciate it at the time as I had just clapped eyes on the Chiff, but I did see quite a few small clusters of them around later. Probably about a billionth of the normal summertime contingent on the marsh, but surely a good thing to keep the wintering Chiffs etc. going for a bit.
One odd thing, surely, is where are all our Snipe? As far as I know no one has seen one on the patch yet this year, given the truly huge numbers we saw in December it is strange that we can’t muster up one. Presumably the cold weather moved them on, perhaps we will have to wait for them to come through in the Spring.
On this day: 30 01 03 Three Mealy Redpolls from the back window didn’t stay long in strong sleety wind.