I'm no fan of winter. Nor Christmas to be frank. But this dark time of year does have a silver lining or two if I look for them.
One of those silver linings is the arrival of our winter ducks - my favourites being goldeneye and wigeon - beautiful things to see (and hear!)
I took a dawn walk with my old friend Pumpkin Turner this morning at my old "patch" - a place called Fobney, a mile or two south of Reading, just off the M4 - hoping perhaps to see a sandpiper or two or a winter duck or three dozen?
I wasn't disappointed - four beautiful wigeon, two shoveler and five teal were floating around the small lakes on Fobney island - lakes that had been created to form a wildlife habitat only a few short years ago - and the wildlife had certainly taken to their new habitat.
I haven't got time to blog in detail about the ducks that we watched this morning, under a beautiful sunrise, but I will paste a piece below I first wrote about the wigeon two years ago on my "zoonames" website (that I've hardly had time to even get going what with a baby son to look after etc).
I hope you've had a very merry Christmas (not too merry though... I know you lot) and wish you the best new year ever.