Sunday, 31 October 2010

Making the Extra Hour Count.

All week I've been hearing people say 'Oh we put the clocks back this weekend. An extra hour in bed!'
 Well you can keep your extra snooze time. I was up and out at half five to make use of this extra time, heading to Welney to catch up with a Glossy Ibis that had been performing to anyone who cared to go and see it for the best part of a week.
 I timed my arrival  for my latest visit to 'Nelson's County' for first light, and parked up at the recommended site. Finding the field where the bird had been seen, there was no sign, but I figured it probably hadn't yet left it's roost so I stood around waiting for it to arrive.
 I could hear wild Swans on the WWT reserve and several groups of mainly Whoopers but with a few Bewicks flew low overhead as they headed off for their days grazing on the nearby fields.. A Marsh Harrier flew across and a Barn Owl hunted in a neighbouring meadow.
 By now more birders had arrived and all it needed was our bird to show, and indeed it did. At 7:25 exactly the unmistakeable shape of a big brown  bird with a long curved beak was seen to fly in from the west and land in it's chosen field. When I've seen these birds previously they always been quite elusive hiding in the long grass or reeds, but this one was just 50 yards away and out in the open, the light of the sun bringing out the colours on it's back.

 Having seen my target bird early I decided to take a look at the nearby Ouse Washes Reserve to see what was around.
 I noticed there had been reports of Curlew Sandpipers on the reserve, so I thought I would have another go for them. Unfortunately it was from the Stevens Hide, the furthest one, some 3 kilometers from the car park, but what the hell, nothing ventured.....
 The walk was fairly uneventful with small flocks of Reed Buntings, Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits on the track ahead. More Whoopers flew overhead and many Wigeon, Mallard and Teal on the pools of the yet unflooded Washes.
A massive flock of Lapwings and Golden Plovers numbered at least a couple of thousand, several Snipe and a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits were seen in flight.
 Having endured the long trek (stroll ?) to the very end hide, my efforts were unfortunately not to be rewarded - no Curlew Sands and not even one of the 75 Ruff that were reported to be there.

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