I wasn't sure whether to do some local birding today, perhaps looking for some winter grebes or divers, or whether to go further afield to Rutland. In the end I opted for the latter as I'd been to Oakham earlier in the week and fancied a bit of a session round there. Also a Great Northern Diver had been knocking about all week, and the ever-elusive Red-necked Grebe which I always dip had also been regularly seen in the South Arm.
I started by walking the Dam from north to south, stopping every so often to check for the diver, but it didn't appear to be there, and I hadn't seen any recent reports of it... The 3 Red-breasted Mergansers that have been present all week were still there, so that was some recompense, and there were several Goosander about too. It was quite windy and very cold, so I didn't stick around for too long.
I then parked at Old hall and had a look for the Red-necked grebe... another dip. The light was pretty poor and so I could have missed it in the glare, but there was plenty about, including 11 Great white egrets on the south shore, and a flock of 40+ Red-crested Pochard, as well as a few Redshank. Again, it was cold and windy so that eventually forced me to retreat to check out the North Arm. There wasn't much from the small fishermans carpark just outside Hambleton, but the area by Burley Fishponds was crammed with birds, including another 3 Great Egrets. There was a flock of 40 or so Pintail and a fair few other smaller groups, always nice to see, and there was a huge raft of mixed wildfowl, mainly Tufties and Wigeon, which unfortunately didnt hold any hidden gems. I was hoping for a Slav or Black-necked grebe around here, but it wasnt to be, and after a quick check for Smew at Burley fishponds (there weren't any), I went home - a little disappointed for the lack of year-ticks, but it was good to get out nonetheless.