I had to pop up to Lincolnshire at the back end of the week, which gave me a small window to get some local birding in. Although I'm sure the cold snap probably helped a bit, I came back to London really enthused by winter birding in the area – it's only when you get back to the murky grey streets of the capital, where gulls are the primary order of the day, that you truly appreciate the wider avian opportunities of the Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire fenlands.
That said, I nonetheless tried the gulls at Tanholt first thing on Friday. Actually it was overwhelmingly disappointing for larids, with large gull numbers low at the landfill site, where there wasn't much tipping activity going on. However the Hooded Crow was showing on arrival, although it dropped out of view before I could get my 'scope on it and it was only about 45 minutes later that it popped back up. Quite a smart bird really.
A quick zip around the Deepings area brought good birds at all sites visited. Deeping Lakes must now be the 'best' (at least most reliable) Long-eared Owl roost in the country, with five birds showing on the island on the main lake during my visit. Subsequently, six have been counted. It's come a long way since these were intermittent visitors to the nearby 'Gulley' area, although we have found nests of the species here in the past.
Deeping High Bank was also alive with birds, with upwards of 30 Goosanders along the Welland itself and a couple of separate flocks of Whooper Swans amassing to around 25 birds. I was happy to find a family of five Bewick's (the three juveniles were particularly pleasing) towards Deeping St Nicholas, while another 'family' (an adult and a juvenile) had arrived by Saturday. Marsh Harriers are also an ever-present fixture over the fields here these days and a Pink-footed Goose was with Mute Swans on the Friday.
My old patch at Baston & Langtoft Pits always has a few birds of interest, and a couple of visits on Friday and SAturday produced an adult Bewick's and up to a dozen Whooper Swans – the former being the first I've seen here since the big freeze in 2009/10. Even better still was a flock of 15 Eurasian White-fronted Geese, which looked pretty epic feeding among the wild swans on the frosted fen.