This morning we got out to Eldernell, on the Nene Washes. It's still very cold and overcast today, which might be why there was a distinct lack of raptors on the wing. We only saw one Kestrel, which is pathetic by the Washes' usual, high standards... Peregrine, Marsh and Hen Harriers, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Merlin are all possible, plus Barn, Little and Short-eared Owls.
On a more positive note, we did see Tree Sparrows around the feeding station. About five birds eventually revealed themselves - they like to hide in thick cover, out of sight.
We took a walk to just west of Lord's Holt and looked over the floods on the end of the RSPB reserve. Plenty of Pintail, Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler there, plus a lonely-looking juvenile Bewick's Swan. A herd of nine Whooper Swans flew east towards March Farmers, whooping as they went.
Possibly our best find was a Water Pipit on the edge of the floods by Morton's Leam. Picked it up on call as it flew in, and then watched it paddling around among the reeds and grasses - pretty good, prolonged views of a species that can often be hard to see well.
But it's not a British breeding species so it's not going on the year list!
Chilled to the bone, it was time to leave. Darren decided that he hadn't had enough of being cold for one day, so he forced me to take him to Serpentine Brick Pit (otherwise known as Orton Pits SSSI) for a trudge around in the mud. Those wily Polish lads have had good stuff there lately - Short-eared Owls and Peregrine - but we saw sod all. Wrong time of day, I suppose.
Species added today:
75. Tree Sparrow
77. Whooper Swan