Today was my first outing of the New Year. A combination of a cold, problems with the central heating and unappealing weather had kept me indoors thus far. Down in Rivelin Valley, much of the path was still frozen, so it was not too muddy. The birds were shy today, but I got quite a nice sighting of a jay, and several of goldcrests. Odd to think that I had never seen a goldcrest until last October in Suffolk, and now I see them all the time on my own patch. I think birding is about knowing what you are looking (and listening) for. I'm waiting for the day when I can get a decent photo; today I got some good views, but there was too much scuttling in undergrowth for a chance at a shot. I also saw a pheasant and a very exciting grey squirrel chase!
Last Wednesday, I ventured up to the start of the Loxley Valley trail, catching a bus up to Damflask, then walking home down the valley. Again, quite disappointing on the birding front. One of the dams had a solitary tufted duck on it, and the carcass of a canada goose on the ice. I saw jays and wrens, but nothing of note on the river itself. The later part of my walk brought me past the confluence of the Loxley with the Rivelin and a short walk along that valley. I was surprised at the difference in the two valleys in terms of how much more ice and snow still remained in Rivelin. I suppose it must be more sheltered; certainly, there was a huge amount of ice there immediately prior to the thaw. It seems like a different world now most of it has gone. I wonder what the rest of this winter has in store for us. There was a mist descending as I approached home, which made my walk through the cemetery very atmospheric. A pheasant on the path was the closest I had seen one to home. Perhaps they'll find their way onto the menu by next Christmas!
I've long had planned a garden sightings diary, and that began well with a dozen species on New Year's Day, including a bullfinch, which we haven't seen for a very long time. I'm planning a trip to Old Moor tomorrow, so hopefully that will get my "year list" off to a flying start (pun intended).