A pretty grim and dismal day today with totally leaden skies and drizzle. A much milder morning with no frost. A dawn temperature of 7 degrees Celsius.
I arrived in Merton, about a mile from my home, in semi-darkness, and close to me at least 5 male Tawny Owls were calling in this well-wooded area. It was interesting to hear how the pitch of the calls varied between these birds with one being quite deep in tone, probably an older, wiser Owl. I could also hear a female Tawny Owl calling and eventually watched her through binoculars, her silhouetted form on a high bough.
Much of this walk was fairly quiet given the dark conditions, until I came to a familiar site where Tree Sparrows are regular. Once in position there was quite a variety of calls heard, most of which came from 40+ Goldfinches in thick cover, which were just seen preparing for the day with a communal preen. The light remained very poor, even following sunrise, but there was plenty of activity involving Tree Sparrows in thick Hawthorn, with some House Sparrows, a couple of Greenfinches, Chaffinch, and Goldcrest.
I eventually arrived at Merton church where I checked the churchyard, parkland and paddocks for birds. I stopped here for about 30 minutes or so with no sign of improvement in light.
A small flock of about 20 Redwings were seen in parkland where they searched the ground amongst leaf litter for food. Despite the poor light, I had some nice 'scoped views of these beautiful winter Thrushes. Two pairs of Jackdaws were seen high in parkland trees, also here, a single Brambling briefly stopped high in a tree, called, and then moved on. Also noted in this area was a singing Mistle Thrush, 'chinking' Blackbirds, Nuthatch, and nice 'scoped views of a single Goldcrest briefly perched on churchyard fencing.