Having been laid low with a virus for over a week i dragged myself out in bitter conditions yesterday up to Swallow and Dukes' Ponds. Parking at Asda i ventured into the park along the main waggonway and didn't hear anything never mind see any bird for the first 10 minutes. First sighting being 20+ Siskins in Alders then things picked up with Tits, Blackbirds, Thrushes and odd Robins dotted around. Headed straight for the plantation ditches expecting and getting sightings of Water Rails. Two in sight, a juvenile and an adult about 15 metres apart, both feeding frantically. I spent over an hour here, trying, but not too hard , to get some images but not wanting to disturb the birds came up empty. Obviously with the birds being in the ditch and in the plantation the light wasn't the best so i kept my distance and just enjoyed observing the markings. I was frozen to the core when i left and moved on and headed straight to the centre, not for a coffee but stood reading the notice board half a dozen times thawing out a little.
On to Dukes Pond, on the look out for the juvenile Whooper which i came across immediately. The water on both ponds being 90% frozen so not much open water and here was the Whooper sharing what was available with Mallards, Coots and Moorhen. The bird left the water and slipped and slid across the ice and in doing so looked to be in fine fettle. Last week when the bird was in the prescence of the Mute cygnets it was approachable down to a distance of 3 metres but now it was on its own if i got within 6 metres it would move away. The conditions obviously no cause for concern for this bird but there were numbers of other species sitting looking disconsolate all around the ice on Swallow Pond. As i type this i can hear water bouncing off the bay window cills as the mini thaw promised starts to take effect. Great news. Lets hope it lasts longer than predicted...for the birds sake.