|Red Crested Pochard|
Today I was accompanied by Ken Sherlock one of the Brandon regulars, who after meeting up at Napton Church this morning suddenly discovered that despite walking in the area on numerous occasions, had never actually visited Napton Hill or the nearby Reservoir!
Just prior to entering the church yard I'm 95% certain that the first bird of the day could possibly have been a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which flew across the church grounds. Unfortunately, as I was still in the process of sorting out my bins and winter clothing I wasn't fast enough to claim a definite ID. A more in depth tour of the church grounds produced many of the regular wintering species seen here such as Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Redwing, Fieldfare and the usual several Mistle Thrush, and although nothing out of the ordinary was on show it was still a pleasure to see so many birds feverishly feeding up on the vast variety of berries. Fortunately, unlike the cold snaps of January/February, when a cold snap arrives this early there's still plenty of berry stocks available to go around.
On the walk up to the windmill we met up with Bob and Pat who've been running the nearby farm for just short of 50 years and Ken and I were treated to a wonderful guided tour of their land, which produced stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Bob's knowledge of the area seems second to none and the several counties which can be seen from Napton Hill, including there landmarks, were pointed out to us in great detail. During our tour we managed Common Buzzard, Kestrel and the usual passage of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin overhead.
After a blank search of the quarry area, where earlier in the month a Great Grey Shrike had called home for several days, we moved off to Napton Reservoir to check out the waterfowl. Good numbers of Mallard, Tufted Duck and Pochard with the odd Great Crested Grebe, Wigeon and Shoveler on show, plus several Common Gull and three Snipe. The highlight of the day however was a gorgeous pair of Red Crested Pochard (photographed) which were showing exceptionally well in the brilliant sunshine. A Raven was also recorded overhead before we made our way to the marina and tea aboard 'Quidditch'. A final tour of the marina grounds produced Tree Sparrow, Kingfisher and Reed Bunting before a delighted Ken departed.