I parked in Brooklands car park and walked around Brooklands , past the industrial area heading for the Sunken Marsh . My first non water bird was a female Kestrel , perched on an Ash sapling at the bottom of a rise .
Very close to where the Long Eared Owls used to roost , I had the first of three Cetti's Warblers burst into song , somewhere deep amongst the Phragmites Reed . Almost immediately , I came across a flock of Long Tailed Tits that I didn't think was going to end , as they flew across the path in front of me . Obviously they did , and my estimate was 30/35 , unusually , there were no other Tit species in the flock .
I walked a short way along the river , disturbing as I went , good numbers of Redwing and Blackbirds , feeding on the abundance of berries on the Hawthorn and Dog Rose . I made a short sorti onto the Sunken Marsh , and as I did so , put up a Partridge type bird , that flew very low and flat , disappearing back into the Reeds . I only got a fleeting sighting , and would offer Red Legged as most probable . As I do not know the Marsh well , I made my way to the higher ground again , spotting two Fieldfares on the way .
Searching the far bank of the river , I found two Redshank , but apart from them , only Black Headed Gulls were found in the area . The path between the river and Abbeymeads was like 'The Somme' , but contained many more Blackbirds , Redwings , Robins and mixed Tit flocks , and I met up again with the Kestrel .
Crossing the railway , I scanned Railway Lake for any Smew , but it was like a Newecastle United home game , with the water covered in lots of Coots and Tufted Duck . The family of Great Crested Grebes are still around , the young as large as the adult , and although able to dive for food themselves , beg noisily to be fed every time the adult appears on the surface . The only other duck found on this lake were three male Shoveller .
The East Scrub was alive with Redwings and Goldfinches and even more Blackbirds , the former being very flighty , and impossible to get close enough to photograph . On an area of grass that had been cut , I came across a dead Weasel . It had a few marks on it , but I don't know if they caused it's fate , or happened after . The 35mm.film cannister gives a size comparison . The most interesting thing to me was the vicious set of teeth that this small carnivor possesses , absolutely lethal for anything in it's sights .
Down near the Diver's Bridge , hanging in a Hawthorn tree , was what I think is a Wasp Nest . I have never seen one in a tree before , just in roof spaces and sheds and the like . In the same area , there was a small flock of Siskins , feeding in the tops of the Alders .
Around the Diver's Lake , I found several Goldcrests , and scanned each to see if I could 'upgrade' one of them to the Firecrest that Steve had been looking for , but without success . When I finally managed to get a couple of shots of Redwings feeding on Hawthorn berries , they were upstaged by a Song Thrush that came and fed right in front of me .On the lake were quite a few Gadwall and the odd Pochard , along with lots of Gulls and several Cormorants . It was over by the new homes that I encountered the second Cetti's Warbler , once again exploding as I passed . I did manage to see this one very briefly , but having sung , dived into the vegetation . I waited , camera ready for ten minutes , but it didn't show again .
At the far end , I came across the fishing lake that Steve had mentioned recently , and sure enough , the female Goldeneye is still in residence , but she is very camera -shy , I almost had to stalk her to get this shot .
In the lane I managed a shot of one of the many Blackbirds that I had seen , which I think turns out to be a 'foreigner' , not having the yellow bill and eye ring of our British race .
I couldn't return without seeing if any Water Voles were about at the usual place , and as I approached I noticed the 'flap and glide' of a Sparrowhawk overhead . It was soon ushered off the patch by the locals . When I finally looked into the ditch , I saw a Water Vole climbing out of the water and up the bank . Had I left the Sparrowhawk , I could have got some shots of it swimming .
I followed the Millstream back to the car park , and almost opposite the sewage works , the third Cetti's Warbler greeted me . By now the wind was getting up and the sun was losing any warmth it had , but I had had a really good trespass , in good weather , and it probably won't be my last .
It was great to be out again after all the gloom , even if it wasn't my patch .