Down in the Oak Hide I was pleased to see a number of common snipe taking advantage of the open water (everything else seemed to be frozen over) to probe for food, and they were very close to the hide too.
Despite looking and hoping, none of the common snipe would transform into a jack, so I turned my attention to the feeders nearby. The flock of chaffinches increased in numbers and eventually a brambling appeared amongst them, though she wouldn't pose anywhere with an uncluttered view, so I grabbed a shot anyway.
He spotted it, but whichever way we walked to see it, it headed the other way and I didn't even bother with a record shot, as it was so distant.
Dave suggested trying for the chiffchaffs and possible firecrest over at Hams Hall, so in convoy we relocated, and wandered down to the edge of the outflow and settled down in the snow to watch. I wished I'd put on my Stealth Gear trousers as they're more water resistant than my fleece-lined combats, and Dave had wisely brought along something waterproof to sit on. He hadn't remembered to put on both socks when donning his boots, which was amusing later when he was wondering why one foot was freezing cold!
No sign of the firecrest but we did get some very close views of chiffchaffs, though I missed one of the Siberian ones, which Dave had a clear view of.
Another local spot which has caught my attention of late has been Grimley. The flooded meadows attracted a great white egret last summer, and I spent many an hour down there photographing a hobby, and while that wasn't active, some of the numerous dragonflies around the wild flowers.
This time it was a short-eared owl that had been seen that brought me over, but it wasn't to be a good day. I waited for a good 2 hours in the morning and failed to see anything of note. I did finally meet Brian Stretch who runs Birding Today, after email exchanges over the years. But with nothing interesting going on, I headed off. Only to get a text off Brian minutes later to report that the owl had broken cover and was sat on a grass bank. ARGH!!!
I did catch the pair of whoopers flying off though, so not a total waste of time.
Slightly concerning though, was the diver was heading down the lake, and trying to take off. It didn't, thankfully as Steve and Dave hadn't even arrived yet.
The diver generally paddled about, preening and occasionally diving, though I didn't see it catch a fish. We moved around the edge of the lake to get better backgrounds or as low as possible (wet knees!).
Later, we were joined by Vince (on his way to watch a thrilling 1-1 draw between Cheltenham and Aldershot), his son, plus Bob and Julie. And we all found ourselves chasing the diver up and down the lake, much to the amusement of the other park visitors.
Upton Warren provided some entertainment when a water rail broke cover, but in general it was a quiet day.