On Friday we went to an urban site. The morning was enlivened by a public address system, which sprang into life to chastise a particular dog walker who wasn't using plastic bags in a public park, but was hiding his dog's waste under some shrubbery. The 3 gull species were differentiated & immature plumage was compared with that of adults. The 2 geese species were contrasted and a hybrid between the 2 pointed out. A Kingfisher was spotted, but the Great Crested Grebe present the previous week had gone - probably driven off by freezing conditions for 3 days between our visits. There were about 30 Goosanders, but only a smattering of Pochard compared with the numbers encountered a decade ago. A perched Sparrowhawk was eventually seen by every am participant, whilst a different one flew behind an island after lunch. The Ring-necked Parakeet attended by the Yellow Morph was seen by both groups. It is now thought that both of these birds are escapees, but not from the park we visited, which contains several plumage variations of Ring-necked Parakeets with its cages.
On Thursday we went to a brand new location for every participant. Unfortunately, we went in very strong winds and many small passerines were invisible, as they hunkered down out of the wind. At least 2 different Marsh Harriers were seen and a pair of Kestrels, but no other raptors. The soundscape was punctuated with the bubbling call of the Curlew both morning and afternoon. Other birds seen included Redshank, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Reed Bunting, Shoveler, Teal, Shelduck, & Greylag Geese.
In the afternoon the most memorable encounter was less pleasant: a Fox caught in a wire fence. One of the participants was a former midwife & is well acquainted with dogs & after about 5 minutes she was able to free the poor creature. Unfortunately, we don't know how long it had been struggling there, and its back legs appeared very weak as it slowly made its way through the reedbed.