We slipped easily back into the school week routine this morning. With J at school we were through the doors at Asda before nine and back home before ten with two year ticks, Mallard and Canada Goose, rattling around with the diced Lamb and River Cobbler in the bag.
An occasional glance from the window as the morning and domestic chores wore on produced another two, a garden Tree Sparrow easily picked out from its greyer cousins by its paler underparts, whilst out over the fields to the north a Jay flicked along the same hedge that had been Buzzard-topped a couple of days earlier.
A couple of hours work on a piece on Southern Portugal moved me close to completion so I used the last half hour before claiming the kids back to have a short walk along the hedges towards Highford Bridge west of Morpeth. A male Pheasant huddled in a field corner and the quiet tseep of a Redwing was the prelude to nine bursting from the hedge into the grey sky. Further along the same hedge a short tsip revealed another thrush year-tick with a Song Thrush deep in the Hawthorn.
I found a vantage overlooking the river and began to search the edges for signs of life; whilst not in flood there is still a faster force to the Wansbeck in winter months. After a couple of empty scans a movement downstream caught my eye and my first Dipper of the year lived up to its name. Moments later a Grey Heron arrived pushing the Dipper closer into the slower moving shallows below the bank I was stood on. I may have felt the cold on its behalf but there were no obvious signs that it was feeling anything but comfortable as it stood half submerging its head and breast into the water, occasionally emerging with a tasty morsel.
A Collared Dove lifting from a garden bird table as we arrived home on the school return journey turned a non-birding day into a ten tick day. Don't you just love January?