Venus Pool - 17 Dec 16

A grey winters day at Venus Pool proved to be quite productive.

Always majestic: an adult Mute Swan leads two cygnets in a fly-by.

Meanwhile these two adults preen off some of their older feathers

A study in black and white as befits the almost shortest day – Cormorant and Mute Swan with Black-headed Gull.

Edited to real ‘black and white’: spot any difference?

This drake Gadwall had found a moulted Swan feather and seemed to be investigating whether it was edible.

What a pattern! A drake (Common) Teal

Worth another view.

And another ... Not bad for a dull day in mid-winter.

This caused me to pause and have a closer look. The flanks are rather darker and more scaly than a typical duck (Common) Teal and the head marks somewhat stronger, especially the pale area at the base of the bill. Could it be a duck of any other closely-related species? Well ...

... sadly not: when it lifted its head out of the water it allowed the green speculum to be seen confirming it as a (Common) Teal. Likely a first-winter drake yet to moult in to breeding plumage [caveat: duck Green-winged Teal are thought to be indistinguishable from duck (Common) Teal. Perhaps they are not? Wishing, wishing ...]

Always a stunner: a drake Pintail

Also worth another view.

A rather unusual view of a Wood Pigeon.

Meanwhile this one takes a bath ...

... while the synchronised drowning team perform.

A female Reed Bunting. The ‘top field’ at VP is left to go to seed. Today there were >500 Wood Pigeons taking advantage of the food. In the hedges good numbers of this species and the next, though neither really wanted to be photographed.

Unable to get all the branches out of the way but at least the male Yellowhammer is in focus. In winter the difference in head pattern between males and females is not great: the rufous on the breast confirms this as a male.

(Ed Wilson)