Given the dire weather forecast, it was not surprising that only seven of the ten on the original attendance list made their way to the Loch Garten reserve for 9 o’clock, to be led by Pete Gordon, a last-minute substitute for John Poyner. Amazingly, the carpark was almost an oasis of slightly brighter skies and only light, intermittent showers. Pete made several valiant attempts to get a sighting of Crested Tits. They were heard at several places but always moving into the distance. Crossbills were less occasionally heard but too flighty to get a focus on. Within the woods the air was calm, but the exposed loch-sides were very inhospitable and the only birds seen at Loch Mallachie were two hardy Lesser Redpolls, pecking on the ground between the thrashing bushes. Back at the reserve, among the tits and Chaffinches, a solitary Treecreeper was a nice sighting. All the time, the light rain persisted, gradually dampening the bodies and spirits, so through the morning, some of the party, in ones and twos, jumped ship.