What more could you want from Old Moor in December? - A (fairly) mild day with beautiful, clear sunshine; some brilliant bird sightings; and even a concert band playing carols!

Here’s the summary of sightings…

It was the perfect day for a saunter down to the reedbeds. After watching a kingfisher flashing along the channel in front of the Reedbed Screen; and a buzzard sunbathing; a Cetti’s warbler made us all jump by exploding into song close by.

But there was another sound too. Smaller and somewhere between the screen and the hide. Beardies.

A female, feasting on the reed seed.

From the path and facing Reedbed Two, a small party of bearded tits worked their way from left to right. Between us and them was the wire fence, a small channel of water and a curtain of reeds that hid watchers from the birds. Perfect.

In fact, the ‘set up’ was so perfect that the beardies were completely relaxed. They carried on feeding on the seed heads and, every now and again, moved to the next reed.

With all this time to observe, I could get a good look at each bird. Two males and two females made up this group. All appeared to be in good condition and content to feed in the tops of the swaying reeds.

A male bearded tit by path between Reedbed Screen and Hide.

On the Mere today were a male and female goldeneye with two more males on Wath Ings. A single godwit could be seen feeding around the shallows on the Main Marsh with a female goosander on the Wader Scrape along with a drake pintail and a green sandpiper.

Not just the teasels – a goldfinch feeding on alder cones today

But it wasn’t until a late afternoon walk back along Green Lane that the oddest sighting of the day was seen. Beside the Family Hide and picking around the bushes on the bank, there was a water rail!

By this stage there was little light to take a photograph but, even if there were, I think I was just too surprised to lift the camera.

You see, at Old Moor we are used to water rail scurrying past at high speed. A fleeting glimpse is mostly what we get. These are shy birds and secretive ones. Well, mostly.

This water rail was behaving more like a moorhen – and a bold moorhen at that! It pecked its way around the mud, stopping every now and again to stare at the humans with their mouths open, before tracing a route towards the top of the bank.

In short, it was just another part of a day of wonders.

Until next time.