It has drizzled with winter rain almost all day. Not the nicest weather to be out on the Patch. But, picking up three Reed Bunting in the Brooms brightened the mood. As did seeing both of our wintering Stonechat. And, I rectified matters by finally seeing at least five of our resident Skylark on the Police Scrape.
That was about all I had to offer on my quick circuit around the Patch and so I duly headed home to dry off and warm up. I thought I had been the only birder out on the Patch in the rain (with Tony off twitching the American Horned Lark, Jono in Spain, Tim at the football, and Bob hard at work studying pavement lichens under the microscope), but I was wrong. Mr Croft - sadly a scarce sight on the Patch these days due to other commitments - had snuck out slyly and was scouring the Roding to try and fill a Kingfisher-shaped gap in his patch year list.
Sadly, Nick didn't connect with Kingfisher today. Instead he connected with something far better: a female Goldeneye.
This is the sixth occasion Goldeneye has been seen on the Patch in the last decade (albeit sometimes more than single birds), and apparently only the eighth record ever (!?). As the last sighting was when I was in Ibiza (innit), I was rather keen to introduce this charming diving ducky to my patch list. So I put my wet and muddy trousers back on and jumped in the motor to drive over to the Old Sewage Works.
By the time I reached Nick by the Roding behind the Ornamentals, I was rather out of breath and promptly spooked the Goldeneye which then immediately let itself float downstream. Luckily we caught up with her later further downstream towards the Old Sewage Works as the light, on an already gloomy day, was fading. Not ideal for photos, but I managed some grainy ones. Hopefully Nick will help out by adding some better quality ones later.
Meet the 78th bird for the Patch in 2018 and my 119th Patch tick: