Since the last report I went to Rother Valley Country Park on Thursday 18/1 to look for a black-necked grebe on Meadowgate Lake in torrential rain. Bird seen distantly with a pair of little grebes.
On 19/1 Friday Sheila and I went to North Cave. We met Baz a birder I had met on holiday in Scotland. He was looking for a mandarin duck but hadn't found it. Later I found it out in the middle of Carp Lake. Also seen was the single pink-foot - easily picked out among the 80+ greylags by its dark head and very different bill.
A run-up to the north-east on Saturday 20th saw me at South Gare bright and early. Large flock of twite and linnet, but the two species were easy to separate on the ground in front of me. Afraid I can't split them when the flock is whirling around in the air. Also there were some bar-tailed godwits. I moved on to Hardwick Hall country park near Sedgefield.
Conditions were dangerous in places, especially on a narrow bridge you had to cross to get down to the lake. Rather than end up breaking the lens or breaking an arm trying to protect the camera I left it in the car. The above is an iphone photo. A shame really as the red-crested pochard showed really well in good light and fairly close so would have made for some super photos. However better to lose one set of photos than to face the alternative had I fallen.
As it was I stayed upright holding on at times to the stone parapet of the bridge. Once out in the open and walking on the snow there was no problem although the final slope down to the lakeside looked so bad I didn't venture further. I called at Bishop Middleham for hawfinch but no sign: watched a goldcrest in the yew trees.
I returned south and to the coast. Walking out on Greatham Creek it was another world. Only 14 miles from Sedgefield but no sign of snow other than tiny remnants in deep shadow. Little wind so even at 2.5 degrees it wasn't unpleasant. Pair of greenshank and a few grey plover. Camera left in car again but probably unnecessarily this time!
This morning I dressed quickly, grabbed the camera and hid by the hedge across from my house to photograph a pair of roe deer. Here's a few photos of them.
I've not been out much the last few days - partly due to the weather and also Tiggy has been in the garage for a service and a new spring on her suspension. This took 2 days. Coming home with him this morning a low flying red kite near Allerton Castle was my first outing for 5 days.