I was a bit annoyed this morning, I had a day off work and a driving test booked, which was cancelled due to ice. So instead I had a nice leisurely walk around the patch, and I’m very glad I did as I got a couple of year ticks and had some good photographic opportunities.
The first highlights were a couple of jays on Black Lane, the first of at least six I saw over the course of the morning, and I finally managed to pin down a couple of photos of them.
A half iced-up Old Wheel Dam has the usual collection of mallards (c40) and Canada geese (c60), plus a drake teal and three lapwings in the adjacent fields.
At this point the heavens opened and it started sleeting heavily, but while I was sheltering in the woods I got good views of a treecreeper on the trees nearby, and a single lesser redpoll sheltered in one of the derelict factory buildings nearby. (The treecreeper shots were taken in the same place on the way back).
I trudged on in the sleet, which finally eased off when I got to Stacey Bank. In that area I got the first year tick of the day (and indeed the month!) in the form of this rather showy grey wagtail.
A bit further up I finally got the chance to take some semi-decent shots of a dipper, as I managed to sneak up on one that was preening by the riverbank. Its colour rings were showing well, and this is one of the same individuals I reported seeing at this stretch of river in July.
I watched the dipper bobbing about and diving into the water for a bit, and then walked back, getting a grey heron and some more jays at the Fisheries. Near to Olive Dam I caught sight of a medium-sized brown bird with broad wings disappearing silently into the trees and realised I’d finally made contact with the year’s first tawny owl!
One of the best walks I’ve had in the Loxley Valley for a very long time, and a wintry post like this wouldn’t be complete without a pic of one of these…