BitterNly cold day at the London Wetland Centre

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7 years 10 months ago #15052 by nkgray
nkgray created the topic: BitterNly cold day at the London Wetland Centre
Since arriving in London on 19th December the maximum temperature I have experienced is a whopping 6°C! Temperatures have dropped to below freezing every night. Britain is in the grip of one of the longest “big freezes” on record.

None of this is conducive to good birding conditions, so apart from a drive into the Durham Moors and a short walk on Wimbledon Common my birding opportunities have been severely constrained.

Today, on my last full day in the UK before returning to Guinea I decided that whatever the weather I would spend as much time as possible at the London Wetland Centre. When my daughter left for work at 07:30 the temperature was a frigid -7°C. I delayed my departure, but when I arrived at the Wetland Centre at 10:15 the temperature was still a chilly -3.5°C. I spent 5 hours walking around the Centre and when I decided to call it a day the temperature had reached the dizzy heights of -0.5°C.

Most of the small ponds were frozen over and there were dozens of very dejected looking waterfowl sitting around. Many of those that did try to walk across the ice put on some very good skating displays (I wasn't doing too badly myself on some of the frosty boardwalks!), particularly the UK resident birds such as the Common Moorhen and Common Eider.





However, many of the exotics just decided to keep warm the best way they could, like the Ringed Teal, which just kept one foot on the ice and slept in the sunniest spot they could find.



How many times have you seen a White-faced Duck standing on ice to take a drink?



Probably the only exotics that really felt at home were these South Georgia Pintail gliding gracefully along a channel through the ice.



I was beginning to think after seeing all the ice and lack of Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Common Teal, and other resident waterfowl that ought to be there that perhaps I should call an early halt to proceedings, but went into the Headley Hide anyway. The best birding decision I ever made. The first bird I saw in the distant stiff frosty grass was a Fieldfare (lifer), the second a Redwing (lifer) - not great photos, but good enough for ID purposes.





... and after scanning the distant reedbed fringes a MEGA-lifer in Eurasian Bittern, probably 200m away (and also standing on ice!).



Spirits boosted with 3 lifers to start my 2010 birding I carried on, and in the Wildside hide saw 2 more very distant Bittern! Then in the WWF Hide a 4th, only 30-40m away and stock still in the reeds to the right of the hide - plenty time to get a great photo. Apparently these Bittern are causing huge excitement at the moment with at least 7 having been recorded in the past 2 days (I learned this from fellow watchers in the WWF hide along with some other hot tips).



I missed out on the Jack Snipe that had been seen earlier, but saw a large flock of Common Snipe and a distant view of a couple of Water Rail.

The walks through the wooded sections of the Centre turned up one of the most recent birds to be declared a "pest" in the UK, the Rose-ringed Parakeet



... and a female Blackbird on very frosty perch



... as well as a lot of the smaller British birds - Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Lesser Redpoll (2nd photo) and Goldfinch (3rd photo).








Neil

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  • Doug
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7 years 10 months ago #15067 by Doug
Doug replied the topic: Re: BitterNly cold day at the London Wetland Centre
Nice as usual. A freezing -7.5 you say? Almost as cold as Marievale!

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7 years 10 months ago #15359 by Dave Shedman
Dave Shedman replied the topic: Re: BitterNly cold day at the London Wetland Centre
Superb report and photos Neil. Reminds me why I never want to live in the UK again! Great birds though, and congrats on getting so many lifers to start the new year. Love the Goldfinch photo, a bogey bird of mine photography-wise, only having got a few not too sharply focussed shots in my Edinburgh back garden a few years ago. Well done.

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  • NickyO
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7 years 10 months ago #15400 by NickyO
NickyO replied the topic: Re: BitterNly cold day at the London Wetland Centre
Lovely shots Neil!

You are a lot braver than I, walking about in those temperatures!

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