A very interesting split walk yesterday at Newchurch Common, in cold, sunny icy conditions again, the pools being a bit more thawed, Big Pool more so. The walk was split due to me finding a Coot tangled in fishing line on Small Pool. I waded in & rescued it but found it had line around its feet & legs, its wings and down its throat, otherwise a quick check revealed no actual damage, a high fat 'score' and a very lively bird, so a good candidate for survival. Knowing what they are like I avoided the Freddy Kruger-like talons all the way back to the car, but on trying to get it into the only thing I had to carry it (my welly bag!) it managed to lacerate my hands well & proper! Once I got home I transferred it to a pet carrier whilst I cleaned my wounds up. I then disentangled its legs and wings and the line came easily out of its beak, no hook, phwew! I assume it swallowed it either with weed or as it was trying to free itself. What a great result. I returned it to Small Pool where it skittered away over the ice and then stopped to preen and wing-flap before rejoining the other Coots in the water, success! It is easy to see, with inch long, razor sharp talons, how birds evolved from dinosaurs, this bird was more velociraptor than cuddly canary!
In the visits before and after the rescue I managed a few nice sightings too. The female Smew remains on Big Pool, over on the west side yesterday. All but one of 14(6 ad drake) Goosanders were on Big Pool along with 2(1 drake) Pochard. Just 2 Teal were seen. Two Greylag Geese were with the Canada Geese. A Grey Heron was on Small Pool near where the Coot was trapped, lucky it never found it, which suggests maybe the Coot hadn't been trapped long. A Herring Gull and a Lesser Black -backed Gull were on the ice with the Black-headed and Common Gulls.
Two stunning Lesser Redpolls were seen, one in Finch Hedge and the other near Big Pool. 40 Siskins were seen too in the alders. 30 Redwings still toured the site. A Goldcrest was nice to see, surviving the cold weather. Again between 4-6 Bullfinch were around Finch Hedge.
As I said, a very interesting walk but also very rewarding!