So, on a very cold and frosty morning I headed for Priory CP outside Bedford. A penduline tit was reported yesterday as showing well. I've only seen one once before and it is a bit of bogey bird for me. I reckon I must have dipped half a dozen times on other birds.
I got to the site about 8 just as a beautiful frosty dawn was coming up. The park is on the outskirts of a housing estate and looks not very attractive. A smallish lake was surrounded by grassland with a river on one side. There were two things that looked good though - a lot of bullrushes, the favoured food of penduline's and 4 other birders already on lookout.
On chatting to them we worked out where it was last seen and staked out a small areas of reeds. No sign for about 20 minutes. A clear night is often a sign for birds to move on and pendulines are notorious for being one day wonders. Then there was a sharp call and a small bird flitted out the reeds and settled on the far bank. We all got onto it just before it dived into cover again. After another stressful 5 minutes it then popped up onto a reed and settled down happily to feed away.
For the next ten or fifteen minutes it moved around normally showing well as it shredded the reedmace tops.
My second stop was 40 minutes drive away at Billing in Northamptonshire. A ring-necked duck had been present for a couple of days apparently behind a car showroom. When I got there there was a garden centre complex with a car sales place backing onto a medium sized lake. There were about 20 ducks on the lake but they were right into the sun so you couldn't make out any detail. By walking onto the main road and 'scoping through a hedge I could make out a female ring-necked duck. They are quite similar to tufted ducks and are badly named. They do not have a ring on their necks but do have a band on their bills and a peculiar almost domed shape to their head. No photos though..
Finally I headed to Aylesbury to another housing estate. This one had been home to a pair of black redstarts since Xmas day but despite 90 minutes of searching by a number of us we couldn't find anything.
Still, a good end, if that is what it is, to the year, with 253 on BOU and 258 on 400 club rules. Only two more days and it all start again!!