Saturday, 1 November 2014

hallowed e'en

 Finally got back to Welney yesterday- and the transformation that the recent rains has brought was quite surprising. Gone are the dragonfly and butterfly covered meadows, replaced by growing stretches of water. The drains have spilled onto the land and the wildfowl teem. Waders gather in vast phalanx's or spread out across the diminishing islands, Lapwing and Snipe almost sprouting from grassy tussocks and muddy clods like new shoots; Golden Plovers suddenly spring up and wheel in a glittering veil against the deep blue sky. The air is filled with the clonking and cronking and whistling and croaking of newly arrived Whooper Swans, Wigeon, Teal, Shovelers, Pochard and Pintail. As evening drew on the water turned peach and a huge raft of Black-headed gulls settled in for the sunset. Eight Curlew appeared and quietly stood among the peewits. I found a little group of Wigeon close to one of the hides- there are still males in eclipse, though most have acquired the grey backs and golden blazes of breeding plumage. I have forgotten my sketchbook. No choice but to relax and take it all in. There's so much going on anyway- I hardly notice a Barn Owl perched on a post below me, so taken am I by the watery scene that appears in a constant state of flux. One minute a pair of swans is preening - then my attention is grabbed as three Shovelers drop in from the open wash. a tight group of snipe ferret over a patch of wet ground, fanning their tails up over their backs at the first sign of anything coming too close before hopping away. Water Rails shreak from along the bank and i fail to spot them. A Marsh Harrier floats by and hundreds of ducks, plovers and godwits take off and slowly come down to earth.

Eventually I turn to the owl- and start wishing my scope was mounted on something a little more professional