I can't think of many better ways to start a grey, cold Monday morning than a close encounter with a Firecrest. So to have such an encounter twice while carrying out my morning site check on Monday last (2nd) was a real treat! The first was foraging in the vegetation along the stream through Phillimore, affording wonderful views just a few metres from me. The second bird was in a Camelia on the corner of the Winter Garden near the public toilets, the bright greens and oranges of its plumage contrasting rather beautifully with the pink of the flowers. Unfortunately I didn't have a camera with me to capture said beautiful moment, so instead here is a picture of one I took in the woods near my house at the weekend!
Firecrests were again noted in the Hollies at the northeastern and northwestern corners of Rowe's Flashe on Wednesday morning and Friday afternoon, respectively.
The other big excitement last week, of course, was the snow! A whole inch of it fell on Monday night into Tuesday morning, and Winkworth was looking really rather Narnia-esque, at least until lunchtime...
There was certainly evidence of some cold weather movements before and after the snow, with a Reed Bunting present in the reeds on the eastern shore of Rowe's Flash Lake on Monday, and several Canada Geese about (not all that common a sight at Winkworth, believe it or not) either on the lake or flying over. Despite being out on patrol in the upper arboretum on Tuesday morning I sadly wasn't able to pick up the three Brent Geese that Ed Stubbs had just seen flying south over Thorncombe Park. Thanks for the heads-up anyway, Ed! Talking of geese, Thursday saw the first record this year of Egyptian Goose, when I noted three flying south off Rowe's Flashe.
Bullfinch and Siskin numbers were high even by Winkworth standards last week, with at least a dozen of the former about the place on Monday, and over a hundred of the latter in Alders around the Rowe's Flashe on Thursday.
On Wednesday there was a pair of Grey Wagtails in the spillway towards the meadow end of the dam. On Thursday there was a Kingfisher at Rowe's Flashe, near the boathouse, and I also heard a Water Rail calling in Phillimore - the first I've heard for a little while, although I then heard it again during my monthly WeBS count for the BTO on Sunday (8th), when I also recorded Kingfisher again and ten Mandarin Ducks on Rowe's Flashe.
As the snow gave way to sunnier weather later in the week, so the birds and wildlife responded in spring-like fashion: on Friday there were at least three Buzzards and two Sparrowhawks displaying over Magnolia Wood, while on the ground the Primroses were beginning to flower and more Cherry blossom buds were looking to do the same. Spring is in the air!