Today saw the start of a slight thaw and also the arrival of a few new birds including 6 Red-crested Pochard on Blashford Lake. These are not likely to be wild birds but part of one of the feral populations forced off their favourite lakes by the freeze. The picture and yes I know it is a really lousy one, is of one of the two drakes. They were diving for waterweed which they were dragging up in great beakfuls.
Although there is a thaw going on there are still only good ice free areas on Blashford Lake, Ivy Lake, Rockford Lake, Ellingham Lake and Ibsley Water. All the wildfowl are concentrated onto these waters, apart from Ellingham Lake, which holds almost no birds. Between them the remaining lakes held 874 Gadwall and 1401 Coot, the Gadwall count is the largest I have made this winter and is above the threshold for international importance.
The first Bittern of the winter has also turned up at the Ivy North hide, unfortunately the water is frozen so if it is going to remain it will have to find somewhere to feed quickly. Interestingly it is in the patch of reeds just east of the hide and is a very warm brown bird, just like the one that was in that area at the same time last year.
In the woodland area 2 Brambling, both males were with the Chaffinch flock and several Lesser Redpolls were on the niger feeders. During the day I saw 3 Woodcock in different places, one of the most obvious species to have been displaced by the snowfall.
The adult Caspian Gull was standing on the ice of Ibsley Water from around the middle of the day until dusk, by which time the lake held the usual roost including 80+ Common Gull and at least 5 Yellow-legged Gull. There was also a leucistic female Red-crested Pochard, I suspect the one from Blashford Lake which I had seen earlier. There was also a pair of Bewick's Swan on the lake briefly at lunchtime before they flew off north. For the first time in some weeks large numbers of geese arrived on Ibsley Water with 221 Canada Geese and 60 Greylags.
Three times during the day I saw Foxes walking out on the ice, at times well out and with great confidence. The first, as I opened up was almost in the middle of Ibsley Water, it was not hunting, apparently just taking a short cut.