Friday, 13 December 2013

8th December - Welney Wildfowl Trust

On the way home on the Sunday we took the chance to drop into Welney Wildfowl Trust on the Ouse Washes.  This area had seen some impact from the surge, but mainly only a rise in the water levels.

As we pulled up to the centre we disturbed a superb male Sparrowhawk, that happily flew along side the car giving fantastic views.

We walked across the bridge and own into the first hide.  Right in front of us were several Whooper Swans sitting on the bank

Close to the hide all the swans were Whoopers. 

I did manage to find a few Bewick's away in the distance, but they were never close enough to photograph.  Every so often they would swim out into the open water, and then take off.  The take off did not seem as laboured as that of a Mute Swan.

As well as take off, the Whoopers were coming into land, its always impressive watching large water birds land, bringing their bulk to a stop on water with their feet acting just like skis.

The swans were not alone and fo the first time for a long time I was able to watch and photograph Pochard.  Another very smart diving duck, that over winters here.  Their smart brick red heads contrasting with the black of the breast, and the grey of their backs.

Another diving duck was present in smaller numbers, the Tufted Duck, they golden yellow eye being enhanced in the sunshine.

We both learned this trip that drake Mallards do not quack, the call you hear belongs to the female or duck.  Mallards are quite common and as a result probably over looked and under appreciated.  Their plumage though like all drake ducks is extremely impressive.  In the winter sunshine the heads change colour constantly.  This roosting drake shows the different colours possible in their head feathers.

This was only a short trip, and we wandered away from the warmth and comfort of the observatory and walked along the trail to the west.  There was a large group of Black-tailed Godwits roosting on one of the islands the sunshine making them stand out almost silver in the distance. 

It was time to leave, but before we did there was one more chance to photograph the Pochard.  This time you can see the red eye, and the markings on the bill.

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