Wednesday, 15 January 2014


As soon as I saw that it would be sunny Tuesday morning I decided I'd better get out there with the camera but where to go ? With all my other local patches flooded or very quiet there was only once choice and that was Ice Station Draycote.

Got there just before 10.00 AM and as I was getting kitted up in the car park it felt like a pleasant English winter's morning.This changed dramatically as I climbed up to the Farborough bank path where it felt as though I'd been transported to deep winter in Siberia.My God it was cold.

The bitter wind was soon slicing through all my layers and was  threatening my thermals and if they go I would be finished.I wasn't alone one friend I met was racing to the cafe because he'd "lost all feeling in his fingers" and another had got so cold in Toft that his "jaws had frozen up".Nice to know I'm not the only wimp birder.

Back to the birding.Along the Farborough bank I soon met up with Francoise who had got the drake Smew which had been in close but had drifted out by the time I got onto it. Got some shots but not any better than before.

I was joined by another friend whilst waiting for the Smew to come closer and was very impressed because he'd bought a stainless steel electric bike so getting around Draycote was now a doddle for him.After he moved off a Common Buzzard cruised by and a dead fish floated by.I thought Barracuda but I think the water would be too cold.

I then walked down to the spit where it was very quiet with no sign of my good friend the Great Northern Diver which I later found out had become more adventurous and was now popping up all over the place.I was then rewarded whilst multitasking when I was scanning round with my bins and eating a cheese roll at the same time I spotted the Long-tailed Duck.Although it was closer in than before it was still the best part of a 100m away.Managed a few shots in the now rather rough water but still far too far away for my lens.

I then headed back to try and warm up a bit in the cafe when I bumped into my good friend Bob Hazell. Bob is a Draycote Water legend because he walks all round the reservoir most days and it's him that finds any new birds and puts them out for us to go and see.Today his new find was a dozen Pintails.

Whilst having a cup of tea in the cafe I noticed the Smew had come in very close.I grabbed all my stuff raced down the stairs and along the path.It couldn't have been 5 minutes but the Smew had drifted out again.Wonderful !! Got some more pics but still no better.

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