Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Out birding in Cambridgeshire with the Worcester crew

Road trip!
It was another day out with the Worcester crew, and with Mike, Jarad and Neil, it was going to be a good trip!
Having seen last years 'proven' wild Baikal Teal I wasn't in much of a fuss to see the bird that had chosen to appear at Fen Drayton RSPB in Cambridge, but when I was offered a lift, and with a rather mouth-watering array of 'rares', I just couldn't say no!
So, our first destination was Fen Drayton, and sadly, the day soon reached its low. The Teal had gone, and hardly any ducks remained whatsoever! We were joined by another foreigner to this 'distant land' when Hughie appeared along the path.
Infact, it was a struggle to be too exited by anything that was present, a single female Marsh Harrier made a brief fly through visit and decent numbers of Goldeneye were present on the many pools. Infact, it was the hybrids that were the best birds of the trip. A Tufted x Pochard was present on one of the pools, but the most interesting bird came in the form of a rather odd looking Wigeon, which showed characteristics of both Eurasian and American Wigeon. However, the crew had practically fallen asleep at the lack of birds by this point, and we chose to head on.
We moved to Pymoor, where a drake American Wigeon was being reported, but in our searching of the masses of ducks we failed to locate it. Later in the day it also became obvious we had also not picked up another duck......
Stunning females of both Marsh Harrier and Peregrine flew through, flushing everything in the process.
Despite the lack of yanks, I was amazed by  the huge numbers of ducks still present, Pintail, Wigeon and Teal all being represented by very large numbers, and a flock of 40 Whooper Swan remained, which I thought was quite late, and indeed proved that this trip would work out to be worthwhile.
It was while scanning we received news of a female RING NECKED DUCK just up the road, so a quick car journey and we were soon pulling up, and within a few moments an obvious female 'Ring Neck' could be seen distantly from the river banks. It really was very distant, but very good light meant that it was perfectly identifiable. Even on shape alone it stood out a mile!
From this viewpoint, it was also clear of the huge volumes of ducks that remained on the Ouse Washes! Literally thousands!

With the weather feeling so 'springish', it was also great to see, and hear a Yellow Wagtail as it bounced over our heads! Always a great bird to have so early in the year!
With limited time remaining before having to head back, news of a Spoonbill at Ouse washes RSPB had us making a detour, and soon upon arrival at the hides, we were greeted by stunning views of a rather beautiful looking summer plumaged SPOONBILL!
What was even more outstanding though, was the fact that the bird was awake THROUGHOUT our visit, and was constantly feeding, which made a rather refreshing change to most Spoonbill records!
Again, it was somewhat of a "Midlander meetup" as again Hughie was present, and we all enjoyed this rather scarce visitor to our home counties.


Perhaps more  impressive though, were the sheer numbers of waders that were present, mostly consisting of two species. Hundreds upon hundreds of 'islandica' Black-Tailed Godwit were roosting on a couple of the spits, creating carpets of red, and many Ruff were strutting around in fine summer garb! What could be better! We had 60+ of these rather gaudy waders as they waded their way through the shallow waters outside the hides
Our time here was as I said, limited, and therefore we had to leave, but my first taste of the Ouse washes certainly 'whet my appetite', and I can see a return visit coming on soon!

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