It's been a rainy last few days and the watery theme took me again to the river near Luxé. The little egret which I saw there on a previous visit was replaced by a great white with a brilliant yellow bill. He spent a lot of his time slowly flapping from one flooded meadow to another. There was nothing else of note on the water except for two kingfishers, sometimes calling, sometimes hovering and sometimes perching on flimsy stems of vegetation.
The finch family was well represented among the trees near the new viaduct, five species in all including brambling.
Thrushes were scarcer except for numerous blackbirds. Mistletoe is plentiful in the poplars (although many have been recently felled) and I heard the rattle of mistle thrushes among them. There were no fieldfares despite the recent cold snap but a small flock of redwings put in an appearance.
The most surprising sighting of the visit was the large number of reed buntings, a species which can be very elusive during the breeding season.
Another bird which is far more common here in the winter is the tiny goldcrest. They were present in double figures and I watched two of them together with a brighter firecrest feeding on the mossy bole of a tree, a welcome change from the usual neck-cricking views that they offer when feeding in the canopy.
On Monday a skein of about seventy cranes headed south above the house. The low cloud cover forced them to fly at just a couple of hundred feet.