I originally posted this on the 1st. of November I have since been informed that it is not being shown on people's 'reading lists' I hope that by re-posting it you will now be able to see it. If you've already seen it then apologies for inflicting it on you again, Trevor.
Last Tuesday Keith and I went out for the day to visit the WWT reserve at Welney in Norfolk. We hoped to see the Whooper and Bewick's Swans that have started to arrive from their Artic breeding grounds to spend the winter here.
We left at just after 6am on a clear, but cold, morning and thanks to Keith for driving, and that charming woman who lives in the satnav! we arrived safely at our rather misty destination around 90minutes later.
The cattle in the nearby field didn't seem to mind the mist!
After a breakfast picnic in the car park, kindly supplied by Keith our catering manager for the day, we still had a couple of hours to kill before the reserve opened at 10am. (who in their right mind sets a 10am opening time for a wildlife reserve?.....especially one where the main attraction are the Geese and Wildfowl that mostly use the wetland to roost for the night before flying off just after first light to their feeding grounds!!) Little rant over now, sorry!
By now the sun was doing its best to burn off the mist and a blue sky had started to appear, overhead flocks of Geese and Swans were in the air (leaving!) we also saw a large flock of Starlings that seemed to be doing what Starlings do and landing for a few noisy, squabbling seconds before moving on a short distance to do it all over again!
As we explored the reed beds and shrubbery that surround the visitor centre flocks of Fieldfare passed overhead.
Lots of Goldfinches were feeding on the Teasel heads.
Reed Buntings were also about in good numbers.
And this little chap obviously had a message to deliver!
Eventually 10 o'clock came around and we were let in. We made our way to the main hide. Out on the water we could see a reasonable number of Whooper Swans, Mute Swans, Canada and Greylag Geese,
Most other things however were largely ignored as I spent a lot of time just taking photographs of the Whooper Swans (after all, that was what we had come to see!)
|The brown staining is where they have had their heads under the water feeding.|
|I'll be back!|
Eventually I got around to taking some photographs of the Pochard and Tufted Ducks that were also out on the water.
After a while we decided to visit some of the other hides. the first thing that we saw on leaving the main hide was a Peacock butterfly making the most of the sunshine. And along the pathways to the hides we encountered quite a few Common Darter Dragonflies, the males quite vigorously defending their territories from any intruders.
An Egyptian Goose flew overhead.
Not much to see from the other hides, after the recent heavy rain the water level on the reserve was rather high and as a consequence there wasn't much dry land showing for the birds to settle on. However the main thin spit of land that was above the water was well occupied with amongst others, sizable numbers of Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwing, Wigeon, a single Ruff, a single Grey Plover and the more usual Mute Swans, Greylag and Canada Geese and what appeared to be just one White-fronted Goose.
We also saw a flock of about fifty Pink-Footed Geese circle overhead but unfortunately they didn't land.
After a lunch break back at the car we then went back to the main hide to await the daily feeding of the wildfowl. Suddenly all the Lapwing and wildfowl were up in the air as Marsh Harrier made a sortie over the reserve.
As the feeding time approached the Ducks and Swans started to gather closer to the hide and others started to arrive from wherever they had been feeding for the day.
We learned later that the Whoopers spend most of their day feeding in the local sugarbeet fields, hence the muddy feet and bills!
By the time the feeding of the waterfowl was over the sun had begun to set and had cast a deep golden glow over the water, and it was about time to think about making a move towards home.
Just as we were packing up and about to leave a Short-eared Owl was spotted gaining height over the reserve while all the time being 'bothered' be a group of Lapwing. One of the wardens also told us that if we were lucky we might see a Barn Owl that regularly patrols the river bank directly behind the hide. And would you believe it not thirty seconds after exiting the hide door Keith shouts 'Barn Owl' and there it is less than a hundred yards away gently flying along the river bank.
And yes, I did manage to get a few photographs, and yes, they were blurred and fuzzy! It was almost dark and I hadn't, after being told that we may see a Barn Owl, bothered to reset the camera...whally!!
One other disappointment was not seeing any Bewick's Swans according to the warden there were six in front of the hide when they did an early morning count. That would have been between 8 and 10am then!!!
Despite missing the opportunity with the Barn Owl and the Bewick's it was a very enjoyable day, sunny with a blue sky, not too cold, great sunset and an orange moonrise ( a hunters moon according to Keith!) and with a count of 53 species it was 'A Whooping good day'.
Have a good rest of the week and weekend.