Sunday, 21 December 2014

Jack in the green

I seem to only do early morning starts these days and it was still dark this winter solstice when travelling to the Washes.  A brief look at Chain Corner as the light lifted revealed hordes of gulls winging their way from roost, westwards and low across the water.  We parked up on Sutton Industrial Park and walked out across the old airfield which is now rough, boggy wasteland.  We had walked a while before we started to see anything that resembled our target species.  A Woodcock flushed at distance and single Snipe were also flushed.  Exploring further more, Snipe went up and then from close to our feet a Jack Snipe sprung forth and gave us some good flight views.  What followed was a great deal of foot staring and moments of amazement as we searched for, and found, more Jack Snipe.  One spot yielded 3 in close proximity and again flushed from right under our feet despite our intense scanning within a metre or so of our boot tips.  In total we saw at least 6 Jack Snipe, a minimum 10 Snipe and the Woodcock.  Overhead a Peregrine passed over and with the Snipe fest complete we thoroughly enjoyed our squelching search.

Heading across the Fen and along the Washes we saw Bullfinch and hedgerows and fields full of winter thrushes, a Corn Bunting rattled and wild Swans were clustered in favoured fields.  Marsh Harrier were making the most of the breeze and at least 7 were seen during the morning. At Welney we saw another Peregrine at the waters edge on Lady Fen and several Buzzards, including the pale bird.  Golden Plover shimmered in the dark fields and were joined by a few Ruff and Dunlin.  On the reserve there were birds everywhere, a real spectacle.  A Snow Goose fed busily with the Greylags and a carpet of Godwit covered the nearest island on arrival. 

Returning to Lady Fen a Little Egret showed well and drew both Ben and I into a photo frenzy as the light got better and the bird's character changed with every movement.  We had another drive out to look for the Rough-legged Buzzard and probably found it but gliding towards us it dropped below the bank of a small reservoir, didn't appear the other side and despite our best efforts could not be relocated. On the way back along Queen Adelaide Way the Garganey was still on the Beet Pits and a Merlin sat out in the freshly ploughed black soils.  Home then for Tea and medals.