Thursday, 23 April 2015
Biarmy morning Acro-noon
It's been a long time since I last visited Ouse Fen, the part reedbed, part aggregate extraction plant just south of Earith. It's not quite in the Ely Ten, but it does have many of the species that we normally find close to the Cathedral, and in good numbers. Bitterns, Marsh harriers, various ducks, all in a relatively small area, have attained unparallelled densities of population. There were three booming Bitterns within a few hundred metres of each other, and the harriers filled the sky like spring Buzzards in a kettle.
It was the smaller, closer world of reed margin and drain bank that caught my eye though. Everywhere, it seemed, acrocephalus warblers scuttled through the dry stems, bragging and whistling loudly from cover, then darting across a gap, chasing the neighbours in early season boundary disputes. Every now and then I came across a pair of Reedlings, pinging and ricocheting amongst last years seed heads. These bearded wonders are so unlike any other British bird, and it's often a struggle to see them well, but when you do they tend put on a good show. Of all the reedbed birds it's the Bearded Tits that act as weather vanes, coming out in the open on hot sunny days- shy and retiring as the temperature drops.