With Storm Dennis still chuntering and spluttering, today was always going to be a bit tricky. Yet I maintain that it’s well worth getting out on a wild day. Something unexpected always seems to turn up.

Here is today’s summary of sightings…

Walk Old Moor’s Reedbed Trail enough times and you’re bound to hear the idea that bearded tit don’t show well on a rough day. Yet today visitors enjoyed extended views of two groups of beardies – the first, a pair feeding near the Screen; and the second, a group of four (one male) feeding right in front of the Bittern Hide!

Taken today from the left of the Bittern Hide

In fact I was pleased to see just how well the birds were coping in the winds. I have noticed before that proportionately, beardies seem to have large, strong feet. No doubt this is the reason why.

Today (much as they do on a sunny day) the bearded tit parroted their way around the reeds, to the very tops until their weight arched the stem to a more convenient angle for feeding.

Male bearded tit as seen this afternoon

Every stop I made today, one bird call was always present: the strange, whinnying call of the little grebe. Eerily suited to a wild day, I stopped counting at fourteen birds calling. There were five grebes calling in front of the Reedbed Hide alone!

Little grebe today in front of the Reedbed Hide

On the Wader Scrape today, along with the four goldeneye and occasional sightings of goosander, it was the larger gulls that dominated. Hulking adults mingled with gawky first winter birds on the bank that separates the Scrape from the Mere.

It was here that one very odd couple caught my eye. Again received wisdom is that different species of birds don’t usually have much to do with each other. Yet here was a coot clearly being unusually friendly to great black-backed gull. Even odder, as the coot grazed it seemed to hold food out toward the bemused gull! – Really! I am not making this up! If anyone reading this thinks a) ‘He’s lost his marbles’, please keep your opinions to yourself OR b) has an explanation, please leave a comment below…

If only I’d seen this on the 14th!

Still rattled by thoughts of an interspecies relationship (I mean what would the offspring of coot and great black back be like?! … huge, vindictive, aggressive… ) things were calmer at Wath Ings.

Pochard, teal, wigeon and tufties were pushed to the very edges of the pool, harboured by the winds with heads tucked in against the chill.

This afternoon a marsh harrier once more made an appearance here, and the familiar trio of grey heron hunkered down against the worst of the weather.

And with that and the forecast of more wild days to come… Until next time.

A turbo-charged oystercatcher