As I walk along the riverside path behind the old mill, a Wren pops out of the stonework at my feet. I wonder if the hole in the wall might provide it with a roosting pocket. The wall faces south, so these stones might act as a storage radiator and keep the nighttime temperature above freezing.
A Goldcrest tags along with a party of Long-tailed Tits. This must be a male; the stripe on his crest is orange-yellow, rather than pale as it is in the female. I always feel uncertain about the differences between goldcrests and their close relative the firecrest, but this is definitely a goldcrest; the firecrest has a conspicuous whitish stripe above its eye.
Water BirdsA Little Grebe looks like a miniature version of the Loch Ness Monster as it pauses before diving. It disappears for a minute, re-surfaces and, hardly pausing for breath, goes down-under again. I decide that I'll time its next dive but, despite the fact that from the bridge I've got a view of a broad stretch of the river, I don't see it pop back up again.
How can it see to hunt in the underwater gloom?
The sun is going down over the rushy field. A party of Wigeon are thrown into silhouette. As they swim along, they leave golden threads of ripples in their wake. At first I take them for mallard but the high forehead prompts me to take a closer look. As they swim over to the rushes I can see that there are 4 brownish ducks (or juveniles?) and a male with dark head, grey body and white and black markings at his tail end.
A Heron stalks at the edge of a flooded paddock, its silhouette reflected in the still shallow water.
Two Mute Swans, still in their cygnet grey, dabble amongst the rushes.
A Green Woodpecker flies across the marsh. It's just a silhouette against the darkening sky, so it's not the colour that's gives a clue to its identity; it's the bird's size and shape and its undulating flight. This part of the valley seems to be the best place to see them, or, in the summer, to hear them.