Murky Mornings and Amazing Afternoons

It's a funny ol' time of year, we've had so much wet weather, the path to the sluice was closed completely around Christmas with flood water so high it came over the tops of people's boots.  It's dropped again now thankfully, but we've still been getting some soggy weather in between gloriously bright, low sunshine.  Not the easiest conditions to go out taking pictures, but hey, if it was easy, we'd get bored, wouldn't we?

Chaffinches had found something interesting on the ground in the woodland.  I didn't notice it at the time, but there definitely looks like tiny little seeds scattered everywhere, presumably blown off a tree, or from the nearby reedbed perhaps

Kingfishers haunt the edges of that reedbed at this time of year, they come to the coast as the water is less likely to freeze

Marsh Harriers put up with the visitors, they're not worried about small birds like Kingfishers.  The evening roost has been well attended this year, with a couple of dozen or more Harriers coming in at dusk to settle in the reedbed

Another bird we've been seeing high numbers of recently are Pintails.  We always have a few around in the winter, but this year we've been seeing dozens of them.  Maybe a benefit of deeper water perhaps?

Around the edges of the scrapes, Stonechats poke around for tasty treats

His missus is never far away

Keep your eyes peeled for a rustle in the grass near the hides too - every now and again a little head pops up

Popping back to the visitor centre for a cup of tea and slice of cake (essential rations in the colder weather), you might be greeted by "Doe".  This little Muntjac has cataracts, so she doesn't see very well.  She seems to get by quite well though, hoovering up any spilt bird food and the odd bit of apple kind hearted visitors give her

The light's starting to fade a bit now, the sun finally appearing as it drops below the clouds.  There's just time to pop back to Wildlife Lookout hide to see if we can spot the elusive Green Winged Teal, though we're initially distracted by the light catching a Little Egret

But then, Success!  Green WInged Teal at last.  It's been giving visitors the run around for a week or so now.  Unfortunately, it's not that distinctive - the small, vertical white stripe on its flank being the obvious difference to regular Teal (with their horizontal stripe).  As there's one Green Winged and anything up to 1500 normal Teal, it can take a while to spot!

But the day is really capped off by looking out the back of the hide, towards the setting sun, where a Barn Owl, frustrated by several days of wind and rain is finally able to get out and hunt...

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