Monday, November 23, 2015

Eldernell & Ouse Washes

At short notice I managed to secure the 'Trust's minibus for a final 'Away-Day' of the year for the Brandon Marsh volunteers. In fact it was almost a year to the day that we'd visited RSPB Ouse Washes, but before heading there we took a few hours out to visit Eldernell, Red Kite on route.

Common Buzzard - Several at Eldernell
We arrived shortly after 9am, after stopping off for our customary breakfast at Peterborough services, the temperature still below zero but a calm and bright start. As we parked up (4) Snipe took flight and a Common Buzzard was perched on the fence just along from the car park. It wasn't long before more Buzzards were located along with Red Kite and Marsh Harrier, probably three females in total. After initial scans from the bridge, where a Kingfisher passed underneath, we decided to stretch the legs and take a walk along the channel. A brace of Crane were located at distance along the far bank and (3) Whoopers Swans flew through. Other species of note during our stay included Chiffchaff, Meadow Pipit, Lesser Redpoll over, plus Fieldfare and Redwing in the surrounding hawthorn. Sadly, despite being an excellent area neither Barn Owl or Short-eared Owl were located.

Just a fraction of the huge flock of Whooper Swans!
On route to RSPB Ouse Washes a huge flock of Swans, circa 400 took the eye and after pulling over to investigate all seemed to be Whooper Swans, although an in depth observation may well have yielded Bewick's within, we failed to find a single one during our brief stay!

Tree Sparrows - always a pleasure to see!
We arrived at the RSPB centre at Ouse Washes around midday and a look at the feeders produced House Sparrow, along with four Tree Sparrows. From here we moved south to have lunch at Welches Dam Hide and along with a selection of water fowl, which included Pintail, a Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank were also noted.

Whooper Swan on the washes!
After lunch the team split, with a few of us opting to continue south, others north and by the time we'd reached the second hide along this stretch a pair of Stonechat and one or two Skylarks passing overhead had been recorded. A nice find in this hide in the form of a Water Pipit and three Whooper Swans passing close by offered a nice photo opportunity. One of the many elongated islands produced over (30) Snipe busily feeding and also well worth a mention was the immense movements of Woodpigeons during the course of the day, literally in their thousands!

Short-eared Owl - Excellent record shot in poor light from John Osbourne!
As the light began to fade we spent a good while in the furthermost hide along this stretch, where a Peregrine provided excellent entertainment, this before a stunning ♂Marsh Harrier took the limelight! As if this couldn't be overshadowed our patience paid off when finally a Short-eared Owl made an appearance, in fact we may well have seen two, when the same or different bird was seen quartering on the opposite side of the channel as we made our way back!

Species Seen:

Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Graylag Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Pheasant, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Peregrine, Water Rail (H), Moorhen, Coot, Common Crane, Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Short-eared Owl, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Redwing, Fieldfare, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Lesser Redpoll, Linnet, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.