I have bemoaning the fact that this winter has been so mild. Well the cold has arrived and it has brought mixed fortunes. The basin for the first time was completely frozen shifting all the wildfowl out, the only birds present were a few common passerines. Of course the weather was the cause of the frozen basin, but because of the silting problem, to keep water in the dock the sluices have been raised. It is a tidal basin and at present water flows in when the tide is higher than 6.5 metres. Over the last 10 days the tides have been very low so no water has entered the basin. The lock gates are old and leak so water has been escaping. We could have lowered the sluices but it takes a Herculean effort. In the past the dock has remained largely unfrozen and has attracted birds from other frozen waters. I have to wonder if things conspire against you. Anyway the creek had birds on it, but not the expected increase in numbers, 260 Teal and 17 Redshank and a single Common Sandpiper. The bird of the day a Common Snipe was flushed from the stream in the Ecology Park and flew to Bow Creek where I had good views a few minutes later. There has only been 13 Common Snipe records and all but two have been in freezing conditions, so this was a good sighting.
It is Charles Dickens 200th birthday on the 7th February and Dickens spent a lot of time wandering around the dock areas of London getting ideas for stories and characters. The East India Dock area features in a number of Dickens novels and shorter fiction. The area particularly the Orchard Wharf area still has features that would have been present during Dickens time, narrow streets, cobbled areas, buildings and warehouses and all of this and the Nature Reserve is under threat if the concrete plant gets planning permission, is nothing sacred.