Friday, 5 December 2014
As the morning sun was shining, I decided it would be a nice day for a drive across the fen to find some swans. Now that the weather has finally turned cold, I figured that the Bewick's would be starting to arrive in larger numbers.
I set out, car radio on, listening to radio Four, eyebrow raised as some woman harped on about how men cannot be feminists, and that there is in fact a difference between gender equality and sex equality- and one of them is good and one of them is bad (?????) and by the time I had driven half way up the drove between Littleport and Ten Mile Bank, the sun had faded and a grey haze hid the distance- weatherwise that is. There were swans, however, and in fairly good numbers- so I started to count. They were spread across a few wheat and beet fields, and awkward ripples in the land, and reed lined ditches made counting difficult- whole families of Whooper Swans could magically appear or disappear as if erupting from the black soil itself.
It was while scanning and counting one particular flock that a large hovering shape grabbed my attention like a Kestrel grabbing a vole. Damn! I can't stop counting now or i'll forget where I left off. Seconds later, the scan was finished and I panned my scope back towards the distant railway- and a Rough-legged Buzzard turned, hovered with tail showing and then slunk off into the mist.
Lets be honest- this was what I was really hoping to see, although I didn't quite expect it in the location I was now at. The buzzard was three km away from where Dunc has seen it, so a fair range this bird must have.
It didn't reappear so I turned my attention to a gaggle of geese that were with the swans. Almost invisible against the fen blackness, 15 White-fronted and 4 pink-footed geese. Five hundred metres inside the Ely 10 for any patch limit pedants. The White-fronts were especially nice to see- three pairs with young, the young birds still without black belly barring or indeed their white fronts.
I turned for home, passing groups of Blackheaded and Common Gulls loafing on the ploughwork, and the odd Mistle Thrush and Kestrel on the wires. While driving back along the river to Queen Adelaide I noticed activity in a small triangular field just by the bridge over the Lark. 300 or so Starlings and about 150 fieldfare- unsettled and moving between the berry laden hedge, onto the grass and then onto the track where they were drinking from small gritty puddles. Its the first decent flock of fieldfare I've seen this year, a sign that winter has finally caught up with us. I couldn't resist taking a few pics in the poor light.
I got home and the sun came out.