Sunday, January 03, 2010

Happy New Year

Unusually, or at least as far as I remember it is, we're in the middle of an extended cold snap here in the UK. It's been very wintry for a couple of weeks now, with no sign of a prolonged thaw. It must be very hard on those species not used to it.

We had arranged quite a hectic schedule of visits around the New Year period, including birding at Rutland Water on Saturday the 2nd with some friends. On arrival though it was snowing with heavy dark clouds and, not wanting to get stuck, we decided on a postponement and to retire to theirs for Wii Golf, snackage and wine, which all went down very well.

Sunday 3rd dawned snow shrouded, crisp, clear and very cold. I drove very slowly back to Rutland Water where the lagoons, as you can see here, were mostly frozen:

As is usual in this kind of weather a lot of wildfowl were moving around, in this case a small flock of Greylag geese:

We knew there were Eurasian Bitterns on site (we saw three in different locations from the same spot), and enjoyed distant views from the Shoveler hide, however we saw one fly to the arm between Lagoon's II & III and decided to see if we could spot it from a closer hide. Sure enough, whilst sat in Crake Hide, a Eurasian Bittern flew in to the far bank:

Whilst still distant this is the best views of a Eurasian Bittern (of any species) we've enjoyed in Europe. Here's a closer look:

We'd also heard that both Long-eared Owls and Short-eared Owls had been located, however on arrival, speaking with someone just leaving, a group of keen photographers had managed to flush most of them away completely, with just a single Long-eared Owl in deep cover and very hard to locate, so we dipped out there. Shame. On the way back to the car in the middle of the afternoon, we got a very good view of a male Bullfinch, fluffed-up against the cold:

The temperature was plummeting to time to head for home and a nice hot cup of tea. One last picture, towards sunset today the sun was obscured by clouds with yellow sky below and blue above, but I was driving and couldn't really stop. However the view out the back on New Year's Eve 2009/2010 was pretty dramatic too:

By the way I must compliment Google on the improvement, unannounced, in the blogging software - it now does a really good job of handling photos, which is a great improvement, thank you. Happy New Year!

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