And on the weekend the answer was both. I'd sniffled all week with one and then on Saturday, sat in the Gazebo Hide overlooking the lake at Belvide, I was aching from it... my fingers eventually went numb, even with gloves on, so I was glad to head back to the car that morning.
By then I'd seen a few tree sparrows, tits and finches, but no brambling alas, though I did spot the lone knot, wandering amongst the iced up edges of the lake. Handholding this new lens is almost impossible - I need bigger shoulders... I wonder if I can buy them online?
Back at the feeders in the woods, there were more tree sparrows, a nuthatch and loads of tits, including one great tit that stuck its tongue out at me. How bloody rude!
Having almost induced hypothermia, I opted to spend the rest of the day in the warmth of my car, so headed north east to Cannock Chase, to a good spot called Freda's Grave, where the locals put out seed for the birds. As the seed had mostly been eaten, I could make use of the seed in my bean bag. Now this was a tip from a professional wildlife tog. Fill your bean bag with seed, so you're never without any should the need arise!
What he didn't mention was the weight of seed. Bear in mind that the lens and camera probably now weighs about 6kg, plus the old lens and camera is maybe 4kg, plus the bag is about 4kg empty plus all the rest of the gear carried around, including drinks, and the backpack suddenly feels like someone hanging off the back of you, so the last thing you need is a bean bag weighing another 3kg!!
Hence, this week I bought a pink pig micro-bead cushion, and used the contents of that to fill the bean bag, and it's almost weightless now. My lounge though, is covered in microscopic white beads, which seem to stick to anything and everything! And I have a semi-deflated pig looking rather sorry for itself, in a plastic bag to contain the remaining leaking beads.
Back to the Chase, so to speak... there were yellowhammers, long tailed, blue, coal and great tits, robins, blackbirds, chaffinches and a lone siskin by the feeding area. The long tailed tits seemed to have a taste for a piece of banana someone had put out, and hung acrobatically from the bushes, pecking at it.
With the light fading and the interruptions from passers by increasing, I opted to head home, to warm up properly.
Sunday was spent locally. After reports of a goshawk at the Moors (Upton Warren) and missing it the previous weekend by being at the Flashes, there was only one place to go, and I was soon sighing in relief as I took off the suitcase from my back over in the East Hide. I was soon however sighing in annoyance, as the local farm workers kept thundering past in a dumper truck, scaring away the snipe and coots from the water's edge and filling the hide with choking diesel fumes. So backpack back on, and over to the West Hide for a few hours.
While the goshawk never materialised, I did enjoy seeing a pair of water rails sliding around on the ice, as were coots, which comically fell over several times.
The usual woodland birds helped themselves to the seed out, and I took advantage of the glowing male bullfinch, as he posed in the hedge. The sparrowhawks buzzed by occasionally and reminded me that I need to learn how to aim the new lens at flying object better, and the great spotted woodpecker popped in a few times for the suet on offer.
Not great light, but an enjoyable day nonetheless. Then, as is becoming tradition on the way home, I spotted 2 buzzards, both perched close to the road, both bathed in fabulous soft evening light and both in locations impossible to park by. I could and in fact did, scream.