Sunday, 10 January 2016

The Ox-Bow Lake

In the middle of my patch is a not insignificantly sized ox-bow lake. Embarrassingly, I've never really explored it. For 200 yards or so it runs next to the road and I've occasionally popped my head in to see what's there but have never been given reason to explore further. Much of the lake is overgrown and the main channel is obstructed with scores of fallen trees. In the summer with a full canopy the roadside view is of a dark, sterile place.

This weekend I made a concerted effort to know it better. On Saturday I walked to the far side of the lake and was surprised and pleased to find it much more open with what must be the most extensive reeds in the parish. Hopefully this will turn up something interesting this year.

This open area is separated by a flood defence embankment from fields and ultimately the Swale. The river breached the flood defence in the recent floods and all of the grazing sheep were lost. Now, the water is receding revealing a birdy looking mud-flat.

A scan of the strand-line turned up no waders but on Saturday the area was being exploited by 40 or so lesser redpoll. Alas, I didn't bring my camera but returned on Sunday. From a distance I could see what I thought was the same flock, but on closer inspection revealed itself to be a mixed flock of goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch and linnet.

I bumped into the landowner and he told me there had been 2 black swan on the flood all week! I tracked along the lakeside back to the road and turned up 3 or 4 small groups of teal numbering 20 in total. Walking back home I watched a large feeding group of long-tailed tit, with 2 blue tit and a handful of goldcrest in their number.

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