Saturday 9th January.
When the weather gets as cold and severe as it has been at the moment, it's always difficult to know what to do for birding. You know just about all areas of water will be frozen over, so most wildfowl will have cleared out. Walking around woodland and farmland can be difficult as well, being wary to not disturb any remaining birds around, to save their energy. Then there's the state of the roads.
Thankfully, getting to Brookleys Lake from Ellastone was not a problem, although I think it would've been a struggle for my car to continue along the lane to Alton Towers.
This is the only remaining patch of open water left on the lake. Not surprising that my Ferruginous friend has disappeared, but incredibly the female Scaup was still there and appears to be well, diving to feed all the time. The only other diving duck left was a female Tufted Duck, plus 7 Mandarins.
There was a similar sized patch of water at Uttoxeter Quarry too. Here the first-winter drake Scaup remains, the only diving duck around. This bird was nowhere near as active as the Brookleys lake bird. I would imagine Brookleys Lake has a greater food supply for diving duck and Coots compared with a recently-dug gravel pit, being a more established lake, so one fears for this bird I'm afraid.
Also around the small patch of water were 4 Goosander, 3 Wigeon, 20 Lapwings plus Raven and Sparrowhawk overhead.
Sunday 10th January.
Still bloomin cold, and still don't fancy going too far. As you were at Uttoxeter Quarry this morning, the drake Scaup still looking rather inactive.
I then took a walk around Hales Hall Pool in Cheadle.
A Water Rail walked across the path in front of me, and showed well a few times in amongst the local duck and Moorhens, no doubt being able to feed on bits of bread being put out. There was also a Snipe, Goldcrest and about 30 Greenfinches, an impressive sized flock these days.
It's also been noticeable just how tame Redwings and Fieldfares have become. Let's just hope a thaw happens soon.