The day finished with spectacular views of hunting Barn Owl at about 12 feet range at North Duffield Carrs Nature Reserve. I'd gone down to the reserve for the last hour of light. The Geoff Smith hide is about 1.2 miles from the front door of my new house so I made myself a cup of tea and headed across there.
On arrival at the site I noticed several Fieldfare and a few Redwings in the tree tops, a brief walk to the hide resulted in Dunnock, Wren, Blue Tit and several Tree Sparrow and a Reed Bunting all around the feeding station.
As I made myself comfortable in the hide I had a scan about the vast waterbodies (as the reserve looks now). Hundreds of Wigeon and Teal with plenty of Mallard and Pintail in rafts on the water and along the waters edge. Several Mute Swan, Greylag Goose and Canada Goose dotted about with 2 Grey Herons flying through. A few flocks of Lapwing were noted but I couldn't see anything else amongst them.
As the late afternoon came to a very overcast close a distant Barn Owl popped up, shortly followed by another bird, this time much closer, this bird almost flew into the hide it was so close! This bird was very showy, landing on the fence posts before dropping onto and catching a vole of some sort. Nice to see some alive birds after hearing all about the many Barn Owls that have perished due to the poor weather during December.
As darkness fell a couple of Moorhen flew in, followed by 2 groups of Swans, the first group was interesting, I'd hoped for Whoopers (knowing they were feeding in the fields near the reserve) however they were Mute Swans, with a single Black Swan! The Black Swan seemed very keen on one of the Mutes and 3 juvenile swans were very dark, maybe darker than I'd expect for pure Mute Swans - unless it was just that it was almost dark? The second group that came in were however Whoopers - and very vocal they were too!
A very enjoyable hour - nice to have it so close!
Other highlights today came in the form of a showy Red Kite near Whixley, and a fairly smart Brambling (very poor picture below - phone-binned through window with no support!)