And so the festive break begins.
The Admiral and I had to postpone a visit to Hanson Environmental Study Centre yesterday afternoon, due to a plumbing emergency, so we thought we'd make up for it this morning.
We arrived on site before sunrise, spooking a Buzzard from a fence post on the entrance road. Down in the river valley, a few frost pockets educated me as to why I felt so cold. Walking up the main track, we spotted a fresh paw print in some mud, a wide print with 5 toes. Badger!
We headed for the Far Hide and watched the sunrise in the company of dozens of Mute Swans, loads of Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Shoveler, Mallard and about 60 Lapwing. Yes, it was a crowded hide this morning!
As we made our way back through the reserve, we stopped on a boardwalk to look at the work carried out by the local RSPB Phoenix group. They had been busy removing trees from the edges of various ponds, opening up the vistas and reducing the likelihood of vegetative succession. A sudden movement close by our sides turned out to be a Robin, brazenly sat on a fence rail alongside us. It was a shame that we had not brought any bird food, as it can only have been hunger that made it so brave.
From the Near Hide, we watched as a flock of 20 Golden Plover made repeated passes over the bund, their mournful 'pew' calls reaching our ears across the water. The sun reflected beautifully from their burnished backs, a sight to warm our hearts on a cold morning. The Admiral mused that the recent work to remove scrub from the bund appeared to be paying dividends, as the more open aspect was now proving of interest to passing waders.
On leaving the hide, a Muntjac Deer was browsing along the edge of one of the cleared ponds. The Robin appeared again and I wondered if someone has been feeding it, as it did seem amazingly tame. We made a mental note to bring mealworms on our next visit.
Merry Christmas, dear reader, and best wishes from all the Tense Towers Team.