Trip reports


David Brown

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

While I write this report on Remembrance Sunday, under a clear blue sky and a bright sun, I reflect on the vagaries of British weather. Yesterday at Welney it didn't stop raining with a 100% cloud cover. This compared to Friday's clear blue sky and bright sun - were we in the wet centre of 3 day weather sandwich?

I had already curtailed the trip to leave out the Ouse Washes because of the wet weather but lived in hope that the forecasters were too pessimistic and the day would improve later on. I was wrong. The forecasters were right.

In the ploughed fields on the east side of the centre, viewed from both sides of the B1001 as it approached the 100 foot bank we saw several hundred whooper swans, - over 3000 had so far reached the area.

The view from the café over Lady Fen was obscured by the driving rain and there was little to see apart from wigeon, curlew and little egret. On the feeders were tree and house sparrows, chaffinch and goldfinch whilst moorhen and pheasants fed on scattered leftovers beneath. We crossed the bridge into the main observatory to view to the west over the main lagoon..

Amongst the 1000 plus wigeon were dozens of migrating common pochard - mostly male -as the females had continued onto their winter feeding grounds on the Iberian peninsula or beyond. There were good numbers of shoveler, mallard (one all white), gadwall and several pintail already in breeding plumage, as were similar numbers of teal. Opportunist coots and moorhen were everywhere and over 100 lapwings fed on the scrapes, with just 4 black tailed godwit, a redshank, 3 dunlin and a pied wagtail

An Aylesbury duck joined flotillas of greylag and over a hundred canada geese in the safety of the lagoon. Above there were a few black headed gulls and just one lesser black backed

Three marsh harriers on the marsh land just behind the lagoon, vied for prey with some carrion crows and later a kestrel came into view.

Whilst back in the café for lunch a barn owl flew over Lady Fen and a grey heron dropped in too. Jackdaw, starling and magpie foraged among the marsh grass near to the lagoon.

We returned to the observatory for the Swan feed at 3.45 which had attracted over a dozen mute swans and 150 whooper swans of which several had red necks from the iron rich waters of Iceland from which they had just migrated. Just two Bewick swans came in and kept their distance on the far side of the lagoon.

Although our group missed the 6 common cranes seen from the Friends Hide and a kingfisher in front of the Observatory at least 43 different species were seen through the mist by the group.

The hare walk over Lady Fen was braved by 4 of our group and they flushed out 5 hares, a fox and a vole as well as a jack snipe and a curlew.

As we were leaving the reserve, in the gloaming, a constant stream of whooper swans honked over head on their way to the second swan feed of the day at 6pm. This had been a great day out, which despite the weather curtailing photo opportunities, left us happy to have seen the newly arrived swans after their epic migration.

Finally many thanks to the drivers, who drove us to the reserve. We really do appreciate you taking us for a very enjoyable day out.


Alan Corner, Dave Jones Mike Bassett, Camilla Bignall, Jeanette Gosney, John Frone, Gavin Hughes, Robert Moore, Jane Pate, George and Veronica Johns.

Report by Alan Corner