Trip reports

Visit to Ouse Washes

Drake teal profile

Sunday, 28 November 2010

After our coffee break at Peterborough services we carried on along the A605 to a Business Park where fifty-five waxwing had been seen the previous two days. Alas, no luck! They had already dispersed.

Crossing the fens en route to the reserve we encountered numerous herds of whooper swan feeding in the snow covered fields. Approaching the reserve we realised the coach was two metres longer than our usual forty-nine seater and would be unable to make the bend by the Ship Inn.

After the long walk to the Visitor Centre the warden introduced himself and revealed some interesting facts about the reserve, for instance it could accommodate six-thousand football pitches. He also mentioned the recent sightings which didn't include waxwing. The Centre feeders were alive with finches, buntings and many tree sparrow.

From the Rickwood Hide a large flock of wigeon looked splendid in the sunshine and all the pintail remained asleep accompanied by teal and mallard. Meadow pipit flitted about on the edge of the ice where water pipit were also spotted and five black-tailed godwit flew past, wing bars standing out against the blue sky. A lone goldeneye dived for food along with tufted duck. In the fields behind the hide hundreds of whooper swans could be seen and their calls drifted across to us on the breeze.

Lunch was taken in Churchmans Hide where a juvenile peregrine falcon was observed perched on a fence post. It later took flight towards the far side of the reserve and appeared to put up another raptor. This one hurtled towards us scattering the lapwing and trying to take one, missing it and coming to land on the ice in front of us. This was an adult peregrine, its beautifully barred chest illuminated by the bright conditions.

At Cottier Hide a female/juvenile marsh harrier emerged in front of the distant railway bridge and slowly quartered the reedbed gradually getting closer. As it passed in front of the hide it was mobbed persistently by a peregrine but appeared unconcerned and carried on by. The peregrine was then mobbed by another and both flew off.

The long walk back to the coach was rewarded by the sight of a barn owl hunting in the fading light.

Two days later fourteen waxwing visited the Visitor Centre, that's bird watching for you!

Peter and Lesley Berrill