An iconoclastic robin for Christmas.
A few walks in the snow through Bourton Combe over Christmas: highlights were 4 marsh tits , 2 goldcrests, 2 nuthatches (24th): 3 water rails, 35 shoveler (below), a snipe, and a little egret overhead at Backwell Lake on same day.
Spindle fruits, Flax Bourton, 24th.
Barrow tanks on 23rd - a male red-breasted merganser, 3 goosander, 5 red-crested pochard (on filter tanks, 3 males) and a flock of 120+ chaffinch that included at least one brambling (identified from photo - bottom centre). Nice view of an adult buzzard too.
At present we are experiencing the most prolonged spell of cold weather and lying snow that I can remember in almost 26 years of living in Bristol. Our bird feeders are attracting large numbers of birds, a few of which can be seen below. The dominant bird is a pied wagtail. We see these regularly in the area, but it's the first time one has visited our feeders. Second-in-charge is a male blackcap, and a female also payed a brief visit on 20th, a second male on 22nd. Other birds in the photos are coal tit, greenfinch, goldfinch, redwing and robin.
Chew Valley Lake on the afternoon of 12th. I glimpsed the adult male black redstart at Woodford Lodge. There were at least 2 bitterns at Herriot's Pool: one walking on ice and later in flight, a second perched in a tree. A very tame water rail came to seed, which also attracted reed buntings.
Edinburgh was under 20-30 cm or so of snow on 9th, but a thaw was already setting in.
I was visiting St Andrews to do a PhD viva.
Some time for birding on the morning of 10th, with a walk to Out Head at the tip of West Sands, and then to the harbour as the tide came in. St Andrews is one of my favourite spots in the UK, and the birding was good with 16 pink-footed geese, eiders, common scoter, 1 red-breasted merganser, 1 goosander, and a bar-tailed godwit. Two coveys of grey partridge (about 20 birds in total) frequented the edge of the golf course. Large flocks of wood pigeons were heading north along the coast. Highlights were a flock of about 20 snow bunting at Out Head (5 reed bunting also), and about 10 long-tailed ducks feeding off the harbour. I took my 400mm lens and the 1.4x extender, but had to use high ISOs (1000+) without a tripod in poor light.
The cold weather continues with an impressive hoarfrost covering the trees on 7th. I've heard a blackcap around our house recently, and eventually saw it (a male) on 11th.
I went to see the Monmouth waxwings on 5th - there were up to 35 birds present. They were lit beautifully during the late afternoon.
Blackbirds and song thrushes were also raiding the Sorbus berries.
Chew Valley Lake on 4th - peregrine, red-breasted merganser, and 12 dunlin were the highlights.