Saturday, 21 March 2015

Four Balls Good

A week shy of a year ago a female type Ring-necked Duck took up a short residency on the receding floodwater at Four Balls Farm, nice synchronicity that a drake was found just a little to the north a few days ago.  Poor visibility and mist meant that I couldn't get out to have a look for it until Thursday afternoon.  I drew a blank on my first look, although there were thousands of wildfowl concentrated on the few stretches of open water.  An hour or so at Welney to combine a child friendly ice cream stop with a little look across the Fen And Wash produced great views of a Water Rail by the feeders and a Great White Egret from the Obsevatory.  Nice.

A Great White Egret at quite some distance

Stopping at Four Balls on the way home did result in distant views of the Ring-necked Duck amongst a cluster of Tuftie's but slowly a real spectacle evolved.  The thousands of assembled wildfowl began to get very flighty and Marsh Harriers were definitely working the flocks looking for injured or weaker birds, a scan through  revealed 6 Harriers but the panic that then ensued suggested a different threat had found their congregation. On cue a big female Peregrine carved the skies above repeatedly putting all the duck up, frothing the water in wing pummelled panic while leaping to the air en mass and filling the wash with noise.  Also disturbed from their roost Little Egrets created a horizontal snow flurry of white, the highest count an impressive 130 birds.  With all the wildfowl swirling around in the foreground and the blizzard of Egrets as a backdrop the image was getting abstract and Pollockesque.  What more to add to this incredible scene and cacophony?  Wild Swans and dancing Cranes no less. Perfection.

I was able to see the Ring-necked Duck again today but a huge and undoubted highlight was a pair of Ravens that thudded southwards over Stuntney just after midday and indulging in a few switches and mini tumbles on the way.  Epic.