My first stop was at the Grebe hide to see what was coming to the feeders. With snow on the ground, Robins start showing a serious interest in above ground-level feeding opportunities, and there were three or four sitting nearby, periodically visiting the seed feeder where they bullied and intimidated the Blue and Great Tits that were also trying to feed. Two of the Robins also came into the hide to see if I had anything for them - one actually sang a bit while sitting on the windowframe.
I went up to the viewing mound, from where I could see that the whole of East Lake was, like West Lake, free of ice. So it can't have been as cold as it felt. The snow-covered islands were crowded with birds. I dithered a while over what to do, feeling the pull of my favourite hide (Willow) as I always do, but finally decided to head for Tyler hide first.
I left the hide and again pondered which way to go - retrace steps to get to Willow hide, or see if there was anything doing from Sutton hide? I opted for the latter and began the slow trudge alongside the lake. It turned out to be a good move.
Ahead, high in a tree, I could see a biggish bird perched quietly on its own. Usually, biggish birds in trees are Woodpigeons, but there was something about this one that made me look twice, and when I got close enough for IDable views I was pleased to see it was a male Sparrowhawk, sitting with his back to me and showing some characteristic white 'pearl' markings on his back.
After all that, Sutton hide itself was a disappointment - nothing to see but a few depressed-looking gulls bobbing on the water, and a Moorhen stalking along the shoreline. I didn't stay, but made my way back via the woodland trail, noting a Green and a Great Spotted Woodpecker, and a flock of some 30 Siskins.
Then I found another, or the same, Goldcrest and watched it for a while. It was deeper into the wood now, and quite high up, not really worth photographing. Then with a swish of wings a Sparrowhawk (the same one as before, perhaps) swooped down and must have only just missed snagging the little 'crest on its way through. Not that the Goldcrest seemed bothered. It directed an irritable, scolding little call at the hawk's retreating tail, and carried on foraging.
I continued past the viewpoint and took the trail towards Willow hide. My hopes of finding a fabulous concentration of wildfowl here were dashed when I opened a window to behold an expanse of ice. If I'd stayed here all day I bet I would have been there to witness a Water Rail creeping along the edge of the frozen lake, if I didn't die of exposure first. I stayed all of five seconds and then moved on.
Noting that the whole of North Lake was frozen too, I'd elected to give Carter hide a miss, but loitered around the area a while as there were many birds calling. Some of the noise was coming from another feeding Goldcrest, but most of it was a large Siskin flock a little higher up in the alders. The Siskins scattered with a whoosh of wings and alarm calls when yet another Sparrowhawk scythed through the treetops. I didn't see whether it got one or not. Again, the Goldcrest didn't give a monkey's.