The main task today was to do the monthly wildfowl count, I started with Ibsley Water just after it got light. Most of the lake was frozen apart from a broad stretch across the middle running east-west. The most notable birds here were 2 Egyptian geese making aggressive noises at a peregrine on one of the islands.
Ivy Lake was almost completely frozen, whilst Ellingham was totally ice-free, but nearly bird free as well. Still I knew there would be a lot of birds on Rockford Lake and there were, counts included 799 coot, 220 gadwall and 66 mute swan. However the best bird I saw there was not on the lake at all, as I was starting the count I was aware of a bird flying over my head, after a moment I realised it was a great grey shrike, it flew into a tree on the Ivy Lake shore then off towards the water treatment works. This was presumably the one seen nearby a few days ago, but this time it was definitely in the reserve and so another one for the BTO Challenge total. I would guess it is also the bird that has been seen on and off on Ibsley Common.
I then visited Blashford Lake, I had not been there for a little while and I was pleasantly surprised at the number of birds on the lake, no doubt the reduced amount of sailing recently due to ice cover has allowed the birds the freedom to feed in peace. The number of gadwall was especially impressive and was a major contributor to the overall record count of 1149 that we got in total today. Snails Lake was also quite busy and like Blashford Lake around half frozen. However these were the last lakes to count for me as those to the south were all frozen over. The gadwall count is close to 2% of the NW European population and the first we have had over the thousand, although we have got within twenty or so twice before.
At the end of the day I went to Ibsley water again to count the geese and goosander, the greylag included the 5 white-fronted goose, although there had been only the four adults. Just before I arrived they had flown off to the valley and shortly after returned with the juvenile in tow, it seems very prone to getting lost. The goosander reached at least 111 before I had to leave, still a respectable number. One last bird of note was a Canada goose, there were lots but one stood out, in fact it seemed to prefer the greylag, it was a little smaller, darker, shorter-necked and smaller-billed than the usual birds. Evidently it was of one of the other races, with an appearance somewhere between a lesser and a dusky. Like dusky Canada goose it had a reduced white face patch and seemed to have a dark chin-stripe as well.