Thursday, 7 November 2013

Whoopers at North Cave Wetlands

Whooper Swan on a grey & dull afternoon
Yesterday afternoon we found ourselves with some free time and despite the grey and overcast skies we decided to pop across the Wolds to the little nature reserve at North Cave. With the reserve pretty much to ourselves we were able to take our time and enjoy the grey November afternoon with no one to bother or disturb us (a rare luxury indeed!), and we also got to see plenty of interesting birds and whatnot despite the otherwise unpromising overhead conditions (though at least the rain held off till after we left the reserve shortly before nightfall).

Though only three are shown here, there were in fact five Whooper Swans (two adults & three juveniles)

The sight and sound of wild Swans is something I find deeply evocative

The first good bird of the afternoon came soon after departing our vehicle with a probable Peregrine seen hunting over Dryham Ings but sadly this bird quickly headed away to the south and would not be seen again during our walk around the reserve. Settling into the hide we found the Main Lake to be unusually quiet with just a few Teal, Tufted Ducks, Grebes, Cormorants, and Gulls to be seen, while around the edge of the lake 'excitement' was proved by a few Redshanks and Lapwings. However after quarter of an hour or so the sound of geese to the north caught our attention and it was then that we noticed that coming ahead of them were 5 Whooper Swans, a very welcome treat indeed. Having been fortunate enough to spend time in the area near the Ouse Washes when I was younger I have always loved to see these wild swans (as well as their smaller cousins the Bewick's) and as soon as I heard that distinctive 'whooping' call I was instantly transported back to cold and wintry days birding at places like Welney and Welches Dam.

Great Crested Grebe

Black-headed Gull


From Main Lake we made our way around the reserve in our usual clockwise manner, and as we passed the newer part of the reserve at the end of Dryham Ings we noted that the five Whooper Swans had dropped in and were bathing as a family at the far side of the lake. In the trees a few Fieldfares were spotted feeding on the abundant haws, while roving bands of mixed tits were additionally noted, and as we continued onwards along the lane a single Stoat was briefly observed at it ran across the track (one of two Stoats we would see during our afternoons walk). The rest of the afternoon passed with little further event with a distant female Goldeneye and a healthy number of Wigeon being the best of the rest.

Geese feeding in the fields north of the reserve

Wigeon in Island Lake

A Rabbit keeping a watchful eye on me