Starling flock at Willington. We arrived at dusk and waited on a platform by the reed bed. The sky was clear and the only birds to be seen were passing gulls, then, small flocks of Starlings started to arrive from every direction and soon built into a large gathering. More and more Starlings arrived until a vast flock had congregated swirling and forming compact shapes one moment then spreading and elongating the next, splitting and rejoining. After a short while they started to stream into the reeds right in front of us which was an astounding spectacle. Parts of the flock broke away and continued to attract more incoming flocks. Eventually the whole flock poured into the reed beds and almost disappeared without trace except for their loud chatterings. Parties of birds crossed from one reed bed to the other which set off a chain reaction among the flock, causing the whole flock to shift position further along the reeds. I saw a Sparrowhawk pass right over the settled flock without disturbance. A squealing Water Rail and loud bursts of Cetti's Warbler song added to the atmosphere as we left.
Black-throated Diver. Swithland Reservoir. Watched from the dam wall. Dived every few minutes then spent a while preening. Its diving reminded me of a U-boat the way it smoothly sank underwater. Also present were 6 Scaup- immature males and females, 2 Goosander ducks, a few pairs of Goldeneye and lots of Cormorants and Great crested Grebes.
Velvet Scoter, adult drake. Eyebrook reservoir, Rutland. Kept close to a tower near the dam wall. It dived frequently and seemed to find plenty of food before swimming out to open water where it tucked bill into scapulars and slept.
Swimming out to open water
Wings held outside flank feathers directly before diving for food.
Came across a group of Long-tailed Tits, Great and Blue Tits, and a single Chaffinch gathered in roadside trees. The lead bird gave a signal and one by one they flitted across the road, behind a lovely backdrop of Wollaton Hall with a winter sunset streaked with plumes from passing planes. This was painted in minutes in fast-changing light.