The first port of call was Amwell to see if there were any Water Rails performing in front of the viewpoint. Nothing doing there, but a few minutes later Bill Last and Paul Trigg arrived back from Tumbling Bay and said that they had been watching a small flock of Lesser Redpolls feeding on seed heads just back along the track. So the Water Rail vigil was abandoned and I hurried to the place where they had be seen.
Luckily they were still there and feeding just 10-15 yards on the other side of the fence. Unfortunately, for a while they were in deep shade and with their backs towards me but eventually one bird moved into the sun and posed for a couple of shots.
After that lucky interlude I head off to Fishers Green to try my luck with a Water Rail in front of the Bittern Hide. As I left the car park and headed across the picnic area, the air was filled with the calls of a sizeable tit flock. Tit flocks are always worth checking as, not only are there the usual suspects such as Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, but they often have with them Chiffchaffs and , in the dim and distant past, Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. However, on this occasion the prize was a Goldcrest which, instead of lurking deep inside ivy, was feeding in the branches of some trees that had completely lost their leaves.
On into the Bittern Hide where the Bittern has been seen recently, not in front of the hide, but in the reed bed in the distance to the left. No sign of any Water Rails, but somehow a winter-plumaged Great Crested Grebe had managed to get behind the reed bed and was fishing right in front of the hide where the water is only 18 inches deep. You could actually see it swimming around under water.
And now for the final diversion, the bird feeders. As I have often said in the past, I refuse to photograph birds on feeders as the background is so artificial. However, with a bit of patience it is possible to grab some shots as they make their way through the branches of an adjacent tree before flying on to the feeders themselves.