Monday, October 25, 2004

Woodwalton Fen and other antics

I had a strange weekend out birdwatching and the like. My usual Saturday morning (23.20.04) jaunt to Prior's Fen (after White-fronted Geese and Bearded Tits, this week) was not at all productive, largely owing to high winds. One distant flock of geese intrigued me, as they looked to be feeding in an odd part of a field, and through the scope looked like small-race Canada Geese feeding with Grey Herons and Greylags! I largely ignored them until I got a bit closer and realised that the geese were two-dimensional decoys (of White-fronted and Canada Geese), flapping in the breeze and whacking their heads on the ground. Then I saw two camouflaged heads and a couple of guns and realised what was going on...
It is hard to believe that geese would be stupid enough to go for 2-D dummies, and it seems that these shooters were frankly skinflints, skimping on decoys. Each to their own, I guess, but what tastlessness they showed in trying to lure geese with locally scarce Whitefronts.
I made a hasty retreat...
The best birds I encountered were a couple of dark Buzzards and I flushed a Jack Snipe (there is always one in the same place).
While my daughter was at ballet, I checked out Star Pit (at Dogsthorpe Tip) which was full of gulls and a dozen or so Redshanks – it is lovely and shallow, with very inviting mud...

I spent Sunday morning (24.20.04) at Woodwalton Fen NNR (at least for a couple of hours). A couple of Bearded Tits had been seen the weekend before, so I put myself into the hide at Rothschild Mere and watched and listened.

I'd forgotten what a great place this is, full of fennish atmosphere and loads of birds. There was nothing outstanding, just a steady coming and going of birds and a chance to watch displaying, randy Teal and Mallards (head-up-tail-up displays) doing there stuff.
I eventually resorted to a bit of digiscoping of Mallards.


A steady trickle of Meadow Pipit visible migration passed over, and there were plenty of Wrens and Goldcrests hanging about, making a delightful racket (no Beardies though). A piglet squealed from the reedbed to the left, and another Water Rail screeched out a whingeing reply. Perhaps my last Swallow of the year popped in and out again. A young Mute Swan landed on the water, calling (sounding just like a Crane) at family groups of Mutes passing over.
A few times, flocks of 50 or so Fieldfares came chacking along to look for berries, and once or twice they settled for a munch.


Later in the day (when I had a brief window), I called in at CEGB reservoir, south of Peterborough, which is far too flooded over the reedbed area for the wintering Jack Snipe and Snipe we expect there. I had a quick wander though, and put up a Water Rail, a single Snipe and a Jack Snipe (and a second or the same later).
Before returning home I popped back to Star Pit. Not a bird. The pit had been taken over by Chav scoundrels who, like waders, are attracted to the shallow water and mud and use this new WT reserve as a motocross course.
Ah, the entertainment people get around here: shooting and fishing and generally destroying the only places with any decent wildlife...

Later still we popped down to Ferry Meadows, where I couldn't resist a scope over the nicely-flooded Heron Meadows area. There were about 85 Teal kipping out there, though nothing much else apart from a largish flock of Black-headed Gulls. Despite the number of people there, it was calm and peaceful and beautiful...

1 comment:

Quit Smoking said...

Hello fellow fisherman,

Did you know that 16% of the U.S. population goes fishing at least 16 days a year?

Did you also know that over 75% of the nations fishermen do not fish during "prime time"; fish feeding hours?

Those precious few moments before twilight can be absolutely magical. Even up until 11pm at night, the largest predators of any species feed ravenously.

Don't believe me? Check out Daniel Eggertsen's story, and a picture of a couple of his catches here : "Evening Secrets plus more"

I want you to do me a favor and try it out so I can see what you think of it, and if it works for you as well as it did for me.

You will be one of the first to try it out.

Gone Fishin',

Neil