Friday, January 26, 2018

πŸ“– 2018/Update #7 ~ Eldernell & Beyond!

🌀 8C Friday 26th January 2018 ~ A day out with fellow Brandon Marsh volunteer Alan Boddington starting with a post-dawn visit to Eldernell in Cambridgeshire.

The bank at Eldernell allows extensive views over the Nene Washes where, in winter, thousands of wintering wildfowl (including wild swans) may be seen. Wintering Raptors and Owls can include Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls, while Cranes may be seen at any time, particularly on the far banks.

Alan's excellent Short-eared Owl photo on his Nikon P900
On arrival, just as the sun was breaking through some low cloud two Short-eared Owls were quartering just beyond the car park. From the bridge looking across the flood meadow large gatherings of Whooper Swans in the distance, quite vocal, the distinct calls reverberating in the still morning air. Lots of winter wildfowl too, constantly on the move, particularly when the odd Marsh Harrier passed by (3 during our stay, including one male). A Peregrine was also viewed moving low over the reedbeds, adding to the disruption and putting up large flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing, which only added to the drama! Two Buzzard on the nearby fencing, single Sparrowhawk and at least three Kestrel on the hunt, plus Skylark and Meadow Pipit overhead.

One of at least seven Short-eared Owls today!
 A long chat with the local farmer who tends the meadows here before he drove down towards the Nene bank. As we expected he flushed one of the two Short-eared Owls we'd seen drop down earlier, which flew a short distance before settling back at ground level. However, to our amazement, a further five birds suddenly irrupted from the nearby ground, a stunning sight, particularly as the birds continued to hunt for the rest of our stay. Before heading off, we thankfully connected with four Cranes over towards the Nene bank, a great end to our stay.

Short-eared Owl
The only negative of the day occurred at Deeping Lakes, where unfortunately there was no sign of any Long-eared Owls, despite an extensive check of the island where these birds regularly roost!

Short-eared Owl 
With a few hours of daylight left a whistle-stop tour of Rutland Water, mainly for Alan to catch up on his year-list, having only recently returned from his travels in Australia. Black-necked Grebe, Great Northern Diver, Caspian Gull, Barnacle Goose and Egyptian Goose gratefully added to his increasing list!