Moorhens are so common, but almost never allow close approach. I was stood just across a small pond from this one, and it didn't mind at all.
Crocuses. They look more like the autumn-flowering variety to my eye - but perhaps are just planted too close together, making them etiolated.
A last visit to London for the foreseeable future gave me the opportunity to visit a highly regarded bird site - the London Wetland Centre. It's actually pretty easy to get to, in a pleasant part of west London - walking from the nearest railway station, Barnes, I mostly passed through common land, open scrub and trees.
This great-crested grebe was right in front of one of the hides, and took me by surprise - sadly it was in shade while the water behind was still brightly lit.
It's a very glossy place - former reservoirs converted into wetlands around the turn of the millennium, with a large visitor centre, cafe, and shop. The wetlands themselves are now starting to mature, and there are various gardens and exhibits around the place, with hides around the main bodies of water.
Backlit winter reed seedheads draw my attention again and again.
A wetland is a wetland - the natural environment felt very familiar, not that different from Marton Mere, my local patch. Here and there you could glimpse the city beyond, though, and low flying aircraft were a reminder of the location. The birds were all the usual suspects - and to be honest I was a bit disappointed, especially given the not inconsiderable entry fee. Moorhens, coots, mallards and tufted ducks. On the open water, canada goose, heron, teal, lots of gulls, cormorants, and lapwing.
A small crop of a much larger flock of lapwings - these were on the other side of the lake, so even at 700mm appear small.
One upshot was how tame they all were. Moorhens live on all the local bodies of water, but they never allow close approach - in London, they were quite content for me to stand a few metres away, photographing them. The light was perfect - low afternoon sun, if maybe a little too bright. Anyhow, I checked out a feeding station after wandering round for a while - and here my luck changed.
I'd checked their website for recent sightings, and knew a brambling had been seen, but it was very fortuitous it should appear just when I was watching. Conditions were difficult for photography, however - I was shooting into the sun, so contrast was much reduced; the bird was feeding on the ground in deep shade, and there were sunlit reeds between me and its location - reducing contrast still further. Nonetheless, I got record shots, and was able to watch the bird feeding for a few minutes. After spending the winter hopeful of seeing one with the many chaffinches at my other home location in Scotland, this was a relief as much anything. Carrying on my bird list from last year, this counts as species 32/101.
Another sign of spring - the earliest tree blossom (I guess alder?)