Freezing February

 I took a walk around a frosty and freezing Langford Lowfields this morning, but there were plenty of birds to see in the wintry conditions as they sought out food.  Along the Sustrans route past the quarry entrance and to the wood, the hedges and scrub were busy with birds including 3 great spotted woodpeckers, 2 treecreepers, a goldcrest, a female bullfinch and small flocks of redwings and fieldfares. On the first silt lagoon three male goldeneyes looked resplendent amongst the tufted ducks.  There was a good selection of ducks on the next lagoon with a flock of 50 pochards and smaller numbers of tufted ducks, mallards and gadwalls. The third lagoon along was partly frozen and the last lagoon was completely frozen. A woodcock flew up from a patch of tussocky grass by the path before soon landing again in cover, always a good bird to see on a winter walk.

I filled up the bird feeders and then returned to the viewing screen to see what birds would fly in to feed. The star bird was a splendid male siskin and it was joined by a few tree sparrows and reed buntings and larger numbers of chaffinches and greenfinches. Phase 1 was frozen and birdless except for a lone snipe that flew up.

Ice-free areas of water on Phases 2 and 3 held concentrations of ducks with up to 500 teals, about 50 gadwalls and a few wigeons. A flock of passerines on Phase 2 included 14 skylarks, 10 meadow pipits and about 20 linnets; 3 pied wagtails were walking on the ice. On phase 3, a kingfisher dashed over a ditch in a flash of electric blue; other water birds were 2 little egrets and 2 little grebes. A buzzard flew over and a fox was walking across the area. A mixed flock of about 50 yellowhammers, 10 reed buntings and 15 goldfinches was feeding in weedy areas by the footpath as it followed the southern boundary of Phase 3. To finish the walk off, a large adult female peregrine flew over and landed on a mound of soil.