The Down House bird survey produced an average 20 species , the highlights being a Sparrowhawk
I must admit that it seems to have worked as I didn't see a single one during my visit . Mandarin Duck were found in good numbers as is usual at this time of year , and the males are already in full
breeding plumage , and keeping in close proximity to their chosen mate . The same could be said of the male and female Egyptian Goose that were having to make do with the grass in the formal
gardens , instead of the usual left over bread . The biggest surprise came when passing the Nuthatch
nest hole in the large London Plane tree , with one of the pair already inspecting the site , the hole itself still bearing the gouges made by the Rose Ringed Parakeet attention in the Spring . Speaking of
which several were found and heard during the visit , but no sign of the Blue Crowned species , found in previous years . This morning , with the likelihood of the milky sunshine being replaced by cloud before lunchtime , I headed for South Norwood Country Park at Elmers End . My first sighting was a Wren , closely followed by movement in a small stream , which turned out to be a Water Rail . It
seemed very occupied , probably looking for it's breakfast on the stream bed . Unusually , it stayed
out in the open for quite some time , and gave good opportunities for a few shots , but what I would
have given for a ray of that watery sunshine on the bird . Eventually it turned a corner and was out of sight , but I really enjoyed watching it for the few minutes it was in view . The lake was partially frozen over and the only species out in the open were Gulls , mostly Black-headed , some of which
were still sporting black heads , either the remains of this breeding season or the start of the next ?
Two Common Gull kept themselves to themselves in the middle of the lake , and two other larger gulls had me scratching my head , as the reader will know , gulls are my nemesis , especially when
they look like these two , but sticking my heads in the noose , I'm going for juvenile LB-backed Gull . Rounding one corner of the lake , I just missed out on a juvenile Grey Heron sat on a 'No Fishing' sign and shortly afterwards missed out on a good view of a brown and fawn bird being mobbed by Corvids that were much smaller in size , and the gulls . By the time I got into a good position , the bird was disappearing over the tree line still with several Corvids in pursuit .I left the
site wondering what that bird was , not that the dozing drake Shoveler were bothered .