Sunday, 23 November 2014


Yesterday was altogether more pleasant weatherwise than either Friday (which was freezing and windy), and today, a wet gloom of a day. I was therefore very fortunate to spend Saturday with Lou and Gary, and some of Lou's bridesmaids, on a Swan safari to Southery, looking for colour-ringed birds out on the fen.
I must admit my main reason for going was not to record swan data. I can't help it, but I find swan counting dull at the best of times, and I am easily distracted. I really wanted to luck into that bloody rough-leg, which everybody who has been to Welney in the last two weeks seems to have seen, but which still eludes me. 
It was therefore something of a relief to discover- or should that be not discover, very limited numbers of the flying sheep that make the washes and surrounding farmland their winter home. We only found one significant flock, of about 350 swans, and only 25 of these were Bewick's. It seems that it's not just our neck of the woods that is experiencing "the Great Mild". The Bewick's are apparently still languishing in the lakeland of Estonia, in no particular hurry to get here. Well, having been somewhat duped into becoming an official swan recorder, I thought i'd better start counting, firstly the number of individuals, then a species breakdown, then the number of young, and how many in each family party... then just as I was nodding of into a swan induced hypnotic state- five geese!
This is a bit more interesting I thought- who cares how many swans there are and why they're declining, when there's some geese to identify from quite a long way away in the haze. Pinks or Beans - both good inland birds - were the obvious candidates, and despite none of them displaying the grey scapular sheen, a wing stretch then a short flight revealed enough detail to rule out Bean geese. With so many on the Norfolk coast it seems absurd that we don't get more of these geese in fens, but there you go- birds eh. And why stop there? when just 400 metres to the south was the beginning of the Ely 10. Yep-I measured it on google earth when I got back. I may have to start a Queen Adelaide 10 to get them on any spurious and ultimately pointless list I want to create to constrain my peregrinations.