Friday, 25 March 2016

Good Friday

It was good to be off work and it was good to be out and about in the warming Springness of things.  Welney was packed with families and kids, including ours, doing Easter duck hunts, pond dipping and the like.  The water levels are high on the washes and on Lady Fen the conditions look great for waders.  Everywhere I looked Buzzards were up and wheeling around, a small kettle of 5 drifted North in a thermal.  A pair of Pied Wagtail appeared to be on territory around the observatory but I was unable to find a White Wagtail on it's way to Iceland out on the Fen, neither could I turn any of the assembled Pipits into anything of note. 

Back into Cambridgeshire at Four Balls Farm Brendan stopped to let me know he'd found a Spoonbill earlier in the day, to the North.  Although I checked through the assembled masses of wildfowl my mind was on the sky and thoughts of Osprey storming North to reach breeding grounds.  An impressive congregation of Whooper Swans straddling the flood created a pleasant diversion and a lone White-fronted Goose was with the flock on the adjacent fields. 
At the Settling Beds back in Ely the Marsh Harriers were high on hormones.  7 birds were scrapping, dancing and whistling their way across the skies.  At one point there were 3 Skydances concurrently above us.  It's all starting to happen.........

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Love Is In The Air

I got up early and was on the Washes not long after 6.  Barn Owls were much in evidence along the roadsides and I saw 5 between Pymoor and Welney.  The water levels were high and, although there were lots of wildfowl to admire and search through, there were few waders to enjoy.  At Four Balls Farm a smart drake Scaup was busy feeding and there were Pochard in abundance further along at Pymoor 2 hybrid ducks that Brendan had described on Cambirds were still present.  1 at distance looked to be a straight Pochard/Tuftie grey backed and smudgy the other was closer and appears to be a Ring-necked/Tuftie but I guess it's difficult to be precise about lineage with these Aythya's .

A Black Necked Grebe in summer plumage bobbed it's way along the back shore and back towards Four Balls Farm the unmistakeable bugling of Cranes drew my eyes to the horizon and I quickly picked up a first and then a second winging their way East.  

Later in the day I headed to the woods with the family.  At Lynford there were Firecrests vocal and singing as the sun broke through the thinning cloud.  It's a joy to have these beautiful sprytes with stripes close to home, better than any Siberian phyllosc in my book. 

A couple of Hawfinch, a Goshawk and Woodlark made up the remains of a great day.  Spring springing all around.  The pond where Mandarin stood on ice just a few weeks ago was, today, heaving with hundreds of frogs, cacophonous in chorus, while a Nuthatch proclaimed territory high above. 


Thursday, 10 March 2016

Goosie In The Sky With Diamonds

Arrrghhh they get worse don't they.  I wouldn't have awkwardly shoe horned this title had it not been for the death of George Martin this week but it's on my mind.

The Goosie was not a Anser but a sawbill.  I have seen very few sawbills within the Ely10, 4 or 5 Smew and even fewer Goosander make up the tally.  So it was a complete surprise to step out to the car this morning and look up to see a drake Goosander flying quite low over the Elm tops and towards the small reservoir beyond Stuntney Hall.  A great addition to the garden list, which remains a magical, mystery number until I have a count up.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Talking about my murmeration

A lone Fieldfare, or Twurzel, as I like to call them, sat a top the hedgerow.  A silver male Hen Harrier Harrier drifted low over the phragmites beyond.  A workmate, Lorraine, had said she wanted to see a starling flock on mass and the current murmuration at Wicken provided a good opportunity to see a this spectacle.  

It was freezing on the lodeside but a Barn Owl accompanied much of our walk.  We didn't have to wait long for Starlings to appear and the amalgamated quickly, when two large groups of thousands joined they created the swirling cloud we had hoped to see. The swarm of birds twisted and turned as one, rolling within and around itself in rhythms of universal harmonics, an energetic liquid mass floating within zero gravity. 

Go Wild In The Country 2

I thought I'd made an error of judgement when, given a 3 hr stint with just the 1year old for company. I decided to have a look for the Dartford Warbler currently in residence up county in Coates just off the Nene Washes.  I didn't find the Warbler and I felt a little slap in the face when a White Stork was found out on Lady Fen at Welney.  I was in two minds about going out of the 10 and would have gone to Welney had I not been tempted by the dirty twitch.  I wasn't able to get straight up to the reserve on Sunday but did find myself able to take scope, buggy and baby out on the fen mid-morning.  I was distracted before I left the village by the now frequent roadside Buzzard and stopped to enjoy the scene. 

The White Stork had flown by the time I arrived but I enjoyed a longer walk on the reserve and lots of good quality birding.  I was fortunate when, at Friends Hide, the Stork had been located high in the sky circling off to the North.  Not a mega view but evocative to see a big old White Stork dwarfed within the huge Fenland skies.  As it transpires that the Polish ring on this bird may not assure credentials of this bird. Current information suggests that this bird is one of several that have been imported from Poland, injured, having flown into pylons and now residing in a small flock in a bird garden in Norfolk.  Providence is often an issue with our UK Stork sightings.  The only other Stork I've seen in the Ely10 bore a yellow ring PCC some 7 or 8 years ago.

It was a rung as a fledgling from a Dutch nest, a re-introduction program I think, and toured the UK for some extended time. 

 At the other end of the size scale Helen sent me a couple of pictures of a tiny Goldcrest in her garden in Witcham earlier in the winter.