Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Swan Safari

Tuesday January 10

Too late a start really, to take full advantage of the daylight that is. My fault, awake for hours in the night and then slept late. 
An uneventful journey until the Ten Mile Bank, Welney. Roadside Swans started to appear. The first flock of about 200, mainly Bewick Swans, with a few Whoopers, was surpassed by one of  over 500 in three parallel lines. Unfortunately rather distant.

Lightly cropped.

Canon SX50 bridge camera - zoom
Our first Corn Bunting for about 10 months, perched on roadside wires, brought another brake application.
WWF's Welney Hide is the height of luxury. Approached via a two story shop/cafe building, the lifts emitting swan calls. A further lift takes one up to the enclosed bridge over the canal. The bridge sides have Bewick Swan migration information boards. In common with the RSPB practice of gearing information towards children, we find it irritating in practice. There's a lot of us too!
We began at an outside section where opening a window to take photographs is possible .  I regretted it. The wind was sharp and straight from the Arctic. Three Reed Buntings explored the muddy edge in front of us. 
The wash is immense. The area nearby held Whooper Swans, an army of Coot and a battalion of male Pochard

One grounded Whooper swan was obviously injured, constantly preening a bare patch on its neck.

The desk man said that if they investigated, the area would be clear of birds for weeks. Injured swans in surrounding fields are taken to the RSPCA and then brought back to recuperate at the reserve. One injured pair bred and produced a family last year. None of them will migrate again as the parents cannot fly and show them the way.
What a relief to enter the very large, heated hide. Finding that all the static telescopes had gone was disappointing, I'd carried my bridge camera and not my scope. We spent an hour or so scanning the islanded - and very extensive - wash.

The largely barren area looked as though it was covered in cotton grass.  The result of more than a hundred swans preening down feathers into the wind. Not much variety, time to enjoy the spectacle. A few Dunlin, many Lapwing, Teal, Wigeon, Canada, Egyptian and Greylag Geese. 
All photographs were taken from above. There is a photographic hide from eye level below the main hide, at £15 per head per day.

A small flock of Black-tailed Godwit, flashing their white wing bars and rump as they settled, relieved the sameness. A few Tufted Duck, their constant diving producing a maelstrom,  made up for the one Pam missed on the 1st.

A hot drink in the cafe, overlooking the feeders and Lady Fen. Goldfinches were the only birds to feed with a few Collared Doves and Reed Buntings on the ground below.
Time to leave and a detour to Denver Sluice where the relief Channel had three Goosanders, two males and a female. Again, rather distant but a lovely end to an enjoyable outing.

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