Had to go and visit a client -Lands End clothing - who are up near Oakham this morning. Meeting wasn't till 11 so left early with the intention of doing a bit of birding pre and possibly post. Left Ricky about 6.45 after an almost disaster with my meeting suit which got dropped in a puddle so had to return home and change that first! Weather on the way up the M1 was FOUL, rainy and at one time even a snow shower!!!
First stop was Eyebrook reservoir where a ring-necked duck and smew had been reported. AS i arrived about 8ish the weather was starting to clear. Bird was reported as "viewable from east bank" so that was where i started. Hadn't been there for years so didn't realise how big a reservoir it was. There were a few rafts of ducks with tufties mixed up in them. Easily got onto goldeneye, teal and commoner species. View across the lake though was quite distant so moved to west bank and ended up trespassing onto the private fishing area to get close with the light behind me. All the tufties were feeding so spending about 30 seconds up and 30 seconds under water - really difficult to get good views. Eventually sorted through them and got one candidate which finally gave itself up with a nice band on the beak. A short hop down the bank also got 2 male and 1 female smew and a few bullfinches in the field hedge. Nice start to the day.
After my meeting i still had enough time to nip over to Barnsdale wood, where i wanted to get Willow tit. Haven't seen one for years but the interweb suggests they are still there. Not too bad weather by now, cold and clear but out of the wing in the wood quite pleasant. As ever on these occasions the birds take some tracking down. First of all a nice flock of about 10 feeding bullfinches- seemed to be all females though. Then treecreeper, which were present in the wood in really good numbers, i guess i got upward of 10 individuals over the visit. Then a black-capped tit appeared, and promptly "pitchooed" at me before flying off - marsh tit!!!! Probably got onto 5 or 6 individuals, all of which i tried to make into willow tits but all of which called so stopping me getting excited. Finally, at the far end of the wood was another call, repeated and high - willow tit. Calling well but in a large group of dense conifers. spent about 10 minutes but never got to see it so half a tick at best!!!! Ah well, at least i know they're there and a trip early morning in spring may prove more productive