Common Pochard, male, Killingworth Lake.
I headed off elsewhere and after another non-bird stop to recover my better half's repaired laptop I went looking for winter thrushes. Off the main road onto narrow ungritted, six inch deep snow I stopped after a short distance to walk along a little used road with a small stream beside it. Apart from the crunch of snow under my feet all was still and silent. Later after seeing a Song Thrush fly across from one side to another I could hear a loud sharp stone-like tap which I realised was said Thrush belting seven bells out of a snail on a nearby fence post, the sound audible several metres away.I found a couple of Fieldfare in the Hawthorn, getting close is one thing as they lived up to the meaning of their name 'traveler over the fields' but getting a clean shot was tricky amidst the tangled branches and whilst nothing I shot is clean I think they pick up the character of the thrush Chaucer called the 'frosty feldfare.'
I had presumed all the water would be frozen but as I arrived I took a quick look up the ditch line and to my surprise a Water Rail probed and prodded about 5metres up the ditch. I took a few shots and then moved to get a better angle and a little closer, with only 10metres of ditch unfrozen this usually shy and secretive ditch dweller seemed in the words of Abel Chapman "stupefied by the conditions and loth to take to the wing."
It continued to feed as I crept under the hedge and lay down in the snow to get an uninhibited view, never coming closer than 3metres. I realised when I got home that somehow I managed to miss Water Rail completely last year, probably as a result of preferring to be outside rather than in a hide. This one was worth the wait.
Water Rail, undisclosed ditch, Northumberland
Oh, and the post title, if you ever visit the hide at Linton Pond you'll get it.