Back into the industrious business of high-speed/volume can-making today - nothing too strenuous for me though as I'd cleared my desk and got myself into position for the New Year before the Christmas break. Still a culture shock after a restful break though, so to stop my head from exploding I nipped out at lunchtime for some fresh air and a bit of impromptu light birding.
It was damned cold again last night, and only just at zero in bright sunshine when I went out at 12:30. I knew that most of the reservoirs would be pretty much frozen over, but I figured that Swithland Res would be big enough to hold some open water .... hmmm.
I went directly to the north section to look for the redhead Smew that has been knocking about - only to find that virtually the whole res was solid. All that remained free was two small pools in the middle, both only c10M in diameter and both crammed with wildfowl. Mingling much closer than you'd expect were Tutfed Duck, Pochard, Teal, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe - and a solitary redhead Smew. Result.
c150 Coots along with a few Teal, Mallard and Moorhens were clambering about in the shallow outlet basin - shame I had no camera to capture the unusual scene.
Only other excitement came in the form of a Peregrine in the usual tree, and the biggest gathering of Grey Squirrels in one space I think I have ever seen. There were 14 all intently rooting through the leaf litter underneath the same tree and completely ignoring each other - hard times indeed.