First full no exam day and with nothing on the cards I decided to head over to Old Moor for a spot of casual birding. Reports of a Brambling in the 'tree sparrow farm' had caught my attention and I was keen to catch up with this bird as well as some other species I had not managed yet this year.
I first went to the bird feeders where there was plenty of nice things, Long-Tailed Tit and Bullfinches, as well as yearticks of Tree Sparrow and Willow Tit, the latter being something of an unexpected surpirse as they are not as common here as they are at other RSPB reserves.
Next I headed to the 'tree sparrow farm' which lived up to its name of having ample tree sparrows but also an incredible number of Reed Buntings, more than I can recall seeing anywhere else. I made 3 visits to the farm during the day. On the first visit I was rewarded with the star of the show the brambling itself, distant at first before I lost it, only to realise a couple of other birders had been watching it right in front of them... Anyway, I managed to get some cracking views of it, possibly the finest brambling I have ever seen. There was also a Yellowhammer on the first and last visit, though it showed much better on the last, and an incredibly showy Redwing on the second and third visits, showing to within a matter of feet of the hide, a really smashing view.
The mere and ponds were mainly frozen so all the birds were concentrated. I year ticked shoveler at this point, as well as seeing plenty of the usual wildfowl. The wigeon especially were giving fantastic views as they fed on the grass in front of the main hide. One female bird caught my attention as it had a striking white eye ring which I do not recall seeing in these birds before. Curious.
At the end hide there was a really nice surprise as a couple of Barn Owls were roosting in the willow trees at the back. They were obscured and distant but clearly owls and an unexpected yeartick. Its just a pity they did not show better as it would have been nice to get a proper profile.
Old Moor: Yellowhammer, Song Thrush, Willow Tit, Tree Sparrow, Bullfinch, Collard Dove, Blackbird, Robin, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Woodpigeon, Long-Tailed Tit, Greenfinch, Pheasant, Moorhen, Reed Bunting, Brambling, Common Buzzard, Wren, Wigeon, Canada Goose, Herring Gull, Lapwing, Grey Heron, Common Gull, Common Teal, Gadwall, Jackdaw, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goosander, Goldeneye, Shoveler, Coot, Cormorant, Snipe, Mute Swan, Carrion Crow, Graylag Goose, Barn Owl, Kestrel, Magpie, Great-Spotted Woodpecker, Starling, Redwing, Little Grebe,