Water Vole. Phillip Tomkinson.
I reckon this to be the best image of a Water Vole I ever saw or am ever likely to see. Thanks for this Phillip it is a brilliant and much appreciated photograph of a scarce creature lots of us are not likely to ever see without or even with an intense search.
A good day for doing one of those searches through old records on which I picked out a couple of birds I'm hoping to find/see this winter, though if the past 'one or two' are anything to go by I won't be holding my breath. There are some gaps in any accuracy in the following 'short but sweet' notes, but it's been 'a while' since I last saw a Smew but in the yesteryear there was the time when you could visit what was then called Dockacres and see a smart drake which wintered here - and wandered to other areas - for 'many' a consecutive year. Though there is now evidence of a decline in sightings of this species in the UK, once was the time when the record book was dominated by occurrences at Leighton Moss and Dockacres where the Smew was almost annual since 1990. I myself was delighted to find a drake Smew had returned yet again to Dockacres on 22 November 1992, and again later on 21 December I found a/the bird on the River Lune at Snatchems opposite the Golden Ball, then six days later by Greyhound Bridge. The following year a drake Smew gave me an even greater 'buzz' when I discovered it had paid a visit to Blea Tarn Reservoir on 5 March 1993, I remember this morning with relish as I'd gone to the reservoir on my way to work and enjoyed what turned out to be one of those special birding moments of which I've experienced many a one since.
In the winter of 1992/93 I recorded a total of eleven Brambling locations, this was in the days when I drove a car parts delivery van for a living, something which turned out to be the best in 'the world' when it came to a job of work and a growing passion for birds becoming an unbelievable combination. A record of the Brambling which I recall with pleasure was collected on 5 December 1995 when I came across a flock of at least 300 'finches' below a superb Beech Tree opposite Levens Park the greater majority of which were Brambling with Chaffinch's, how could I ever forget a sighting like this plus the fact they were eventually scattered by a Sparrowhawk.
The Brambling winters in widely separate areas from one year to the next with little apparent site fidelity to wintering sites, and both this species and the Smew are well overdue to 'put in an appearance' in our area and I'd like to think this will be put right this winter.
I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!