Lade - cool, dry and sunny, nw 2 - A stunning morning with bright sunshine and a cooler north-westerly airflow making it feel more like winter. We flogged out across the Desert to Mockmill where three Stonechats, several Wrens and Blackbirds, a Mipit and two Snipe were the best muster from the sewer scrub. Behind the `mirrors` a couple of Marsh Harriers, a Kestrel and distant flock of Lapwings. The Slavonian Grebe showed well on south lake along with five Goldeneyes, 160 Shovelers and over a thousand gull, mostly Black-headed and Common, plus an adult Caspian amongst the Herring Gulls.
The south facing side of the willow swamp was a magnet for loafing ducks, grebes and Coots where, sheltered from the wind, the warm sunshine created perfect conditions for a spot of sun-bathing. Whilst scanning the willows in an ever hopeful quest for a roosting Long-eared Owl I came across a female Sparrowhawk perched within an alcove of branches enjoying the warmth. Just below, some of the ducks tucked into the bank had steam rising off their bodies as the sun worked its magic and the hawk twisted and turned her head in fascination as the wisps rose around her and vaporised.
I settled down to watch, as Barney also found a sunny hollow in the shingle, and over the next half an hour the Sparrowhawk exposed every part of her body to the life-giving rays, including wing raising and plumage shaking making her look the size of a Goshawk!
This afternoon CP accompanied us for a roost watch at the back of the pits during which we recorded four Marsh Harriers, a Little Egret and hundreds of Lapwings, Stock Doves, Woodpigeons and corvids.