Female blackcap now in the garden on 30th.
Great morning on the 28th. First stop was Cheddar Reservoir, where the black-throated diver gave stunning views. Although the bird looked healthy, the reason for its tameness sadly became apparent on 29th when it shuffled off this mortal coil after being picked up in poor condition on the reservoir bank. Also present were the male ring-necked duck (now in immaculate plumage), the female red-crested pochard, and 7 goosander. I also photographed a grey wagtail. I had limited time to visit Westhay to see the yellow-browed warbler, but got good views. If only I'd taken my converter off, I could have got a decent photo too! Three chiffchaffs here also, sometimes feeding in the sheep pasture.
Male blackcap in the garden on 27th. Chew Valley Lake in the morning - water pipit, red-breasted merganser and goosander. Good photo opportunities for gadwall and goldeneye - this is the male that seems to routinely appear around the Herriot's Bridge sluice.
A dead muntjac on the A370 east of Flax Bourton on boxing day.
Kingfisher and a male goosander at Backwell Lake on 24th.
I photographed some garden birds in the snow on 22nd. Three shots of a dunnock, and two Christmas-scene robins. The top photo shows a bird ejecting a pellet after a hard night out - that's next year's Christmas card sorted.
A male blackcap in Flax Bourton on 21st, and a raven at the old fuel depot.
Excellent winter light on 20th. In the morning I went to Backwell Lake, hoping to photograph goosander.The lake was half frozen however, and only two male birds remained (and kept their distance). Other birds included 2 teal, 5 wigeon, and several shoveler. The usual little egret was on the island, and I heard a water rail. Photos below of black-headed gulls, goldfinch, mallard, tufted duck, mute swan, and a pair of feral wood duck.
I walked around the edge of the fuel depot a couple of times on 13th trying to relocate the shrike without any luck. The only birds of note were a reed bunting, yellowhammer, and 2 stonechats. I saw 5 roe deer too. The bird wasn't seen on several other trips around the depot in the following week.
Great bird on my doorstep on 12th: a great grey shrike at the old fuel depot in Flax Bourton. I saw the bird from the railway bridge, just off the cycle track, about 500m W of Station Road. The guy who manages the land here told me about one there in Feb/March 2008, so it could be a returning bird. The depot has no public access, and is quite difficult to watch. Best views are from the cycle track, and from footpaths that head N from the bridge that I described. I've seen some decent birds here in the last few years, including barn owl, little owls, Dartford warbler and red kite.
Not birds, I know, but a night (5th) that probably resulted in the loss of my ability to hear goldcrests. It takes a lot to get me to Minehead (last time it was a tame Iceland gull), and even more to get me to Butlins, but seeing Sonic Youth, Robin Guthrie (ex Cocteau Twins) and My Bloody Valentine consecutively at the All Tomorrow's Parties gig was well worth it.