Trip reports

Outing to RSPB Reserve at Fen Drayton

Outing to RSPB Reserve at Fen Drayton
Starlings at dusk at Fen Drayton by Peter Antram

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Well what a fantastic day! The weather could not have been better, a beautiful sunny October day and the birds performed brilliantly. We had scarcely left the car park and were crossing the field when in the sky we were treated to an aerial "dog fight" between a sparrowhawk and a group of crows. They each harried each other until the sparrowhawk had had enough and shook off the crows. The paths around the lakes are wooded and during our walk we encountered flocks of goldfinches, long tailed and blue tits darting between the trees and then soaring in the sky, two buzzards wheeling above our heads giving us brilliant views. The object of the morning was to walk around Elney Lake, probably only a quarter of the reserve, to discover the wildfowl that had arrived on the reserve. Among the hundreds of coots, tufted duck and widgeon we found a male and female goldeneye as the early autumn arrivals.

In the afternoon we walked along the bank of the river Great Ouse in the hope of sighting some waders that we hoped were still there. There were loads of lapwing, a ringed plover, common sandpiper and, while Pete & Colin watched, two snipe made a brief appearance and then vanished.

But the real highlight of the day was yet to come. At around six o'clock, as we watched from the car park, the starlings started to gather. Flocks came from different directions, joined up and parted again. This carried on for a while until the flock numbered about 2,500; which wheeled and swirled against the setting sun forming incredible shapes in the sky. And then it happened! A large number peeled off the bottom of the flock, descended in front of the trees and just disappeared into the reeds. This continued to until the entire flock had vanished into the reeds.

A truly remarkable end to a beautiful day in what must be the best RSPB car park in the UK.

Carline Antram


Sightings list:
Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Cetti's Warbler (heard), Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Jay, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling <2000 see text), Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.