Good evening reader!  ;-)  I have some catching up to do photograph-wise, as I was very bad and missed last Saturday's blog because Bert and I were out and about. Sorry about that, but there is a bumper stack of goodies for you tonight instead. So it was hopefully worth the wait....

 A view of the Field Pools, on a slightly brighter day than the still, grey, chilly day we had today! Thanks to Margaret Smith for this pic :-)

The Car Park feeders gave many people a great start to their visit again today. Tree Sparrows, greenfinches, bullfinches, a brambling, a flock of redwings and a song thrush were seen here.

 Song thrush by Bob Burkill. Thanks Bob!

'Colin' the pied wagtail (blame Bert) was in the courtyard, eating the mealworms I put out for him and long tail tits, tree sparrows, a great spotted woodpecker and 2 bullfinches were seen on the Farmhouse feeders near the courtyard.

 Male great spotted woodpecker on a silver birch in the Garden, by Richard Tadman. Thanks Richard :-)

A male reed bunting, 12 chaffinches, a flock of long tail tits, 2 great spotted woodpeckers, 2 stock doves, a goldfinch, a male sparrowhawk and a willow tit, were seen in the Garden.

 Male sparrowhawk. By Richard Tadman. Cool! :-)

The Tree Sparrow Farm had 6 bramblings, 4 yellowhammers, male and female reed buntings, bullfinches and a weasel running around the stones on the edge of the pond, looking for voles which hide under the stones at the edge of the pond!

 Male brambling, by Lynz Harston. Thanks Lynz!

 A lovely cheerful yellowhammer, by Harry Bardsley. Thanks Harry!

The Field Pools had a flock of redwings and a kestrel reported. A 'no fixed abode' siskin, could have also been seen here, as they enjoy the seeds in the small cones on the silver birches around here, the same as the redpoll we often have reported here do.

 Kestrel, by Denis Matthewman. Thank you Denis!

Some other 'no fixed abodes' were tufted ducks, 8/9 golden plover, redshank, hundreds of lapwings, a common gull and canada geese.  All nice to see, so feel free to imagine them roaming wherever you fancy, around Old Moor today! ;-)

 Flying canadas. By Alan Foster. Thanks Alan!

On to the Wader Scrape. Here, we have the first appearance of our elusive/hyper-active smew! :-)  The first sighting of it this morning came from here. It's been here a week now, which makes it a long-staying bird for us, smew-wise. Others in previous years have only stayed 2 or 3 days. It must be finding plenty of fish to feed on I suppose. It's a 'saw-billed' duck, (like the goosander), but they usually hang around the coast in winter, which is the only time we see them in Britain. They head in to North-Eastern Europe to breed and like goldeneyes, nest in trees (seems very strange behaviour for a duck!). So it's been a treat to have this one visiting us.

 it's been a tricky duck to get pictures of, because it's often quite a long way from the hides. Ian Butler managed this pic of it though, in front of 3 goosander. It shows the size difference quite nicely. We think the bird is a first winter male. The juvenile's show the 'red-head' colouring of the females, but it's starting to get the black 'mask' and wing edges seen on an adult male.

Also on the Wader Scrape, were goosanders and a great crested grebe. Wigeon and teal were reported from the Mere and more goosanders here aswell, brought one count this morning up to 30. The numbers will have increased as the afternoon wore on ofcourse, as more came in to roost.

A goldcrest was seen on Green Lane, near to the Family Hide and we think the firecrest was heard here aswell.... More effort will be put in to tracking this wintering lovely down tomorrow though, just to be sure...

 Wath Ings had a total of 55 shovelers today, aswell as grey heron, pochard and gadwall. Thanks to John Sanderson for this lovely shoveler pic :-)

Over to the reed beds.....  The pesky smew showed up here and at the Bittern Hide this afternoon! Whilst people were still looking for it over on the Wader scrape ofcourse!...  A barn owl was also seen flying over here this  and at 3 pm and the male bittern is continuing to put on an audible, if not visible show. That is if you are here at 7.30 am like our wardens, which you can't be ofcourse, (sorry!), but its reassuring to know that he is doing short grunts and booms, as he gets his vocal chords in order ready for the spring. The prospect of a successful breeding season and the frequent sightings of the female bittern in flight which it brings, must  be improved if he is warming up in February! So something else to look forward to.

 This beautiful shot of the smew in flight over in the reed beds, was taken by Keith Pickering. Thanks Keith, it's fab!

The smew was also reported from Bolton Ings this afternoon and this along with a peregrine over at Broomhill are the only other reports I have for today outside of Old Moor.

I hope that has whetted your appetite and we see you a.s.a.p!

Good evening!