Are we mad ? was the thought that entered my head as I scraped the ice off the car at 6:30 this morning.
The temperature was around minus 9, but Paul and I had arranged to meet Mike Wallen at Steps Hill, mainly to try and see an unusually late Ring Ousel that had been around a few days, but also to see what other migrants might be around.
It was absolutely perishing so there was no standing around. Incredibly there was a lot of birds around in the berry laden bushes, mainly Blackbirds, Fieldfares and Redwings, but smaller numbers of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Bullfinches and assorted Tits.
A herd of 14 black Fallow Deer on the North slope were good to see as they effortlessly leapt a 4 foot fence as if it wasn't there and a Fox was seen to narrowly miss catching one of the many Rabbits that were present.
Unfortunately we didn't find the Ring Ousel, but if it has any sense it will have pushed off southwards.
Next stop was Wilstone Reservoir, where we hoped to see the wintering Water Pipit.
Again we missed out, but compensated with 2 Whooper Swans, 30 odd Golden Plover, male Goldeneye, Redshank and Kingfisher amongst the many Coot, Wigeon, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Gadwall.
While on the Hills, Paul had received a text from Keith 'Holding Moments' O'Hagen that he had found a bird he was unsure of at Caldecotte. So we decided to call in to check it out.
After a brief search we located a beautiful Redhead Smew close to the Cormorant island and after checking with Keith, this was indeed his bird.
Finally I had seen Smew in the county this year after several attempts.Thanks Keith.