|Magnificent 7 whooper swans|
I spent a while around 'firecrest corner' but once again I was met by just the regular blue, great and coal tits, chaffinches, goldfinches, robins, dunnocks and the expected blackbirds, song and mistle thrushes.
With a little ice cover at Freeman's Pools things looked promising. A scan over the water revealed yet more tufted duck with 26 present. A scattering of wigeon, teal and gadwall completed the picture along with a little grebe and multiple coot and moorhen. Just 2 goldeneye were there and the pochard of a few days ago had done a disappearing act. One each of grey heron and little egret were lurking at the pool edges.
I spent a good hour and a half around the chiffchaff hot-spot by the paths junction before getting a decent view of the still present Siberian chiffchaff. However, once it appeared it performed beautifully! A common chiffchaff was also seen along with several greenfinch and pair of bullfinch.
While I was stood ankle-deep in water a gang of 7 whooper swans cruised in from the north-east, pitching down on the flooded field where the Wildfowlers' Pools would normally be. They spent about 20 minutes paddling around and preening on a submerged mound before flying onto Aldcliffe Marsh where they joined a herd of mute swan.
I then returned to Freeman's Wood where I spent yet more time searching for the elusive firecrest. While I was creeping through the dense vegetation I was reminded of my visit to the Scilly Isles in October when I saw more firecrests than I had ever seen before in my life. They were a daily occurrence, yet despite their dazzling (some may say gaudy) appearance they could incredibly difficult to spot.
Their hyperactive movements and tiny size make them easy to 'lose' as they flit through the understory in search of insects and it's hardly surprising that I have yet to relocate this solitary bird in such a large and tangled area. That, of course, will never stop me from trying...
And, I did find a smart lesser redpoll among the goldfinches so it wasn't a completely wasted venture.