Another winters morning and a quick decision on where to go? The main roads are fine, the side roads treacherous. I have not moved the car since returning from work on Friday afternoon. Hence yesterday's birding by bus. I decided to take the car and stick to main roads and five minutes later was parking near Tameside NR.
A friend was fishing on the river, not for the faint hearted in this weather. He was hoping a winter Chub would cooperate and make a great picture in the snow. He had been there since 6am, I arrived at the reserve at 7.00am.
I had just left the car when my mobile rang. My fishing mate had just had an Otter swim past him and it was heading downstream at a leisurely pace. A big dog Otter by the sounds of my friends description. He has seen many Otters and can be relied upon to give accurate information.
I had just set foot on the reserve and was well downstream of my friend. I rushed to the rivers edge and slowly walked upstream hoping for a glimpse of the Otter, no such luck I'm afraid!
What I did see, was a count of 48 Cormorants! Most were low flyovers, a few were working the river and a few were seen drying their wings on the islands of the lake. A result of many stillwaters being frozen over no doubt. At least 20 Goosander were also sighted in similar situations to the Cormorants.
Depending on your perspective, this could be viewed in two ways. A great morning for the naturalist, or a nightmare scenario for the angler.
We, (Taz and I), reached my friend and stopped for a chat. As expected, he wasn't as pleased with the abundance of fish predators on the river this morning as I was! Then, another predator put in an appearance and gave some good views hunting through the now falling snow, a Sparrowhawk.
The snow started to get heavier and visibility poorer. I walked upstrem to the aqueduct but the only interesting thing I could see, was a massive icicle hanging from the arch, almost touching the river. At least 4ft long I would estimate.
I decided to head back to the car and make tracks for home. Tameside looked very nice in the snow, but visibility was too poor to carry on.
On way back to the car, I noticed the reserves feeding station feeders were all well topped up and a nice willow observation area has been erected since my last visit. The feeders were being used by a large flock of Reed Bunting. They will certainly make the most of this food during our arctic snap. Personally, I can't wait to see the back of it. I hate snow!