I hadn't ventured to Grove Ferry since Jan 4th, but the fantastic photos of the Penduline Tit that's been there a few days by Marc Heath amongst others had me putting on my thermals and venturing out. There's much less snow over there than there is here, but it still wasn't hot.
The Feast Hide was the place to be, but it didn't show at all while I was there and I don't think it was seen today. However there were lots of birds in front of the hide, most of them Teal and Mallard, but with a few other things as well.
A lone Redshank, in it's very dull winter garb wandered among the brightly coloured drake Teal and Mallard. I think it was the palest, greyest Redshank I can remember seeing. The Teal however were incredibly bright. Some looked as if they had coloured lights illuminating their heads.
A couple of Pochard dozed towards the back of the pool and there were a few Gadwall and a couple of Wigeon among the other ducks.
A Drake Teal can look quite dark and subdued from a distance, especially if the sun isn't shining. But close up it becomes an amazing work of art. Today they seemed brighter and more vibrant than I can remember before, I think it was the angle of the winter sun catching their heads in front of me.
I had seen a flying Bittern and watched it land in the reeds a few hundred yards to our right, but I was so intent on watching it that I didn't get a picture. I was sitting next to the eagle eyed Chris Bond in the hide and he spotted this bird slowly walking through the reeds at the back of the pool. Unfortunately that's what it did, walk through the reeds. I didn't come out into the open while we were watching, but it was still amazing to watch this master of disguise slowly fade into the reeds and disappear as it moved back.
Another bird that can vanish in the vegetation is the Common Snipe, but this one stayed out in the open for quite a while. I did make the mistake of walking out to the Marsh Hide, and as I had been warned, there was little to see from there, or indeed from the Harrison Hide, so it was great to have started with a "Feast" of birds.