Sunday 18th November 2012
(This morning started better than last Sunday, thanks in part to a recently acquired car cover that saved a quarter of an hour de-icing before setting off.) The sky is clear and a few stars glisten in the inky blackness as I drive out of the city. As I reach the city limits, a warm orange glow can be seen behind a row of houses and a flock of corvids wheel and dive off their roost towards the city centre. Leaving the city, the ground changes from clear concrete and tarmac to a silver-washed green that sparkles in my headlights.
I drive up the mist-shrouded track to the carpark as thrushes and blackbirds dash about in the gloom searching for an early breakfast. I park the car and change my shoes as a robin serenades me from a nearby tree; a male blackbird rummages in the frozen leaf litter, and a coot calls from on the water. I nip across the road and take a couple of pics of the mist-cloaked playing fields as rabbits graze quietly on the side-lines.
I put on my hat (remembered it this time!) and gloves and walk slowly across a frozen ochre carpet of leaves down to the lakes as a thrush sings and blue-tits chatter at a nearby feeder. Lakeside Country Park looks stunning in the frost, with mist lying over the lakes and cattle pen. As I approach the first lake, I hear a metallic ‘clink’ that sounds very much like a water rail, but am unable to track it down in the reeds. A flock of goldfinches chatter as they move from pines on one side of the lake to the other and a wren bounces around on the bank. I walk down the middle of the fishing lakes, past the hardy fishermen who camped here last night to get an early start, across the bridge, and stand to watch the sun rise over the cattle pens and reedbed.
A breathtaking sight greets me as the sun illuminates the mist and the frosty reeds light up as though made of glass. I spend the next two hours wandering around the lakes enjoying the sunshine. I didn’t see anything else particularly exciting after spotting a fox trotting across a nearby field, through the fence and into some beech trees, but it’s just nice to be out.
On my way home, I decide to swing by the Common and see what’s around. The still-misty frosted Old Cemetery is alive with squirrels and birds and a fieldfare perches atop a tree and watches me track my way through the gravestones towards Cemetery Lake. The lake is full of waterfowl, including the usual swans and mallards – this morning, however, there is also a bumper crop of tufted duck, a smart-looking pochard and a couple of majestic fishers, a grey heron over the back of the lake, and a cormorant diving near the island.