Seven members met on a bright but cold morning. The car park feeders held blue and great tits and goldfinches. Two red kites soared over us looking resplendent in the sunlight while a few redwings flew past. The paddock though was unusually quiet. We headed down the side of Colebrook Lake but the low sun prevented proper scanning until we reached the first viewpoint. Then we quickly identified several waterfowl species including wigeon, shovelers, tufted ducks and gadwall in good numbers as well as a few mallard and pochards. Coots were ubiquitous while with the exception of a pied wagtail the sole occupants of the main island were a dozen loafing cormorants. Particularly noticeable was the absence of any waders especially the lapwings that are normally a fixture on the site. The water on the pools to the west of the path was exceptionally high and we were able to see only black-headed gulls there. After a brief but unproductive reconnaissance west along the river we retraced our steps and headed east. As the view of Grove Lake opened out we spotted some goosanders, five drakes and a single female, showing their finery in the excellent light; at points they took to the air offering fresh opportunities for photographs. Meanwhile a speeding kingfisher streaked past. Across the lake a buzzard briefly appeared and a couple of grey herons maintained their stately stance. On our return we detoured over the bridge to the lake south of the river. There was a limited number of birds on the water but a treecreeper and a nuthatch offered a glimpse for some of us. Back at the car park we added a song thrush and a jackdaw together with a probable great spotted woodpecker to our sightings. Overall we had the impression that the site was much less populated than normal but the final list species still totalled 38.
In chilly weather compensated by excellent light that enhanced the lovely scenery of the site six members embarked on the first Covid-era walk since the last one in March, also at Moor Green Lakes. The car park feeders were full of great and blue tits with the odd chaffinch barely having a look-in. Nuthatches were calling and a couple of wrens sang. Two Egyptian geese were the sole occupants of the paddocks. As we approached the lake a goldcrest flitted across the path while scanning of the water produced sightings of tufted ducks, coots and the first of the 150+ wigeons that we were to see. A handful of lapwings on the island were joined by another thirty as we watched. Distant gadwall, shovelers and a single pochard were spotted and then we were able to admire a female goldeneye quite close as she dived. From the viewpoint six wintering goosanders including two drakes came into view while a red kite sailed above us and soon seemed omnipresent throughout the morning. At the junction we first headed east along the river and quickly picked up some great crested grebes, mute swans, grey herons and a little egret by the water while four fieldfares flew over us. A few siskins appeared briefly in willows and we finally spotted some goldfinches.
Heading back on the west path we heard some long-tailed tits well before we could spot them. Then we found a large feeding flock of lesser redpolls on alders with a single redwing overflying them. A stonechat was a surprise sighting while a little grebe seemed asleep in the reeds. It was a splendid morning of birding that produced a final sightings count of a satisfying fifty species topped off by a roe deer.