Saturday, 5 February 2011

Wheldrake - Tower Hide & Roost

I spent the afternoon in Tower Hide at Wheldrake Ings today which was great fun. The weather was a lot better than expected with the gale force wind dropping considerably in the early hours and the heavy rain just didn't materialise.

On my way up to Wheldrake I called in briefly at Thorganby but the floods have more-or-less gone and there was only a single Shelduck and a few Lapwing there.

On arrival at Tower Hide it was evident that there was a lot of birds on the reserve, with lots more Lapwing than I had had during the week., probably in the region of 2000 Lapwing on the waters edge, though there was a lot more distantly (probably another 1000 or so) but these were incredibly flighty due to the attention of a male Peregrine. Waterfowl highlights included 2 'Greater' White-fronted Geese and 2 Egyptian Geese. The White-fronts spent most of the time asleep and the Egyptian Geese were very vocal as they flew through but they landed fairly far away.

A count of the waterfowl resulted in the following estimates: 14 Ruff, 4 Dunlin, c6000+ Wigeon, c2500+ Teal, c100+ Pintail, 140 Greylag Goose, 21 Mute Swan, 254 Mallard, 1 Black Swan, 15 Tufted Duck, 5 Shoveler, 21 Cormorant, 94 Coot, 30 Curlew, 2 Redshank, 15 Gadwall, 52 Pochard, 10 Goldeneye, 1 Shelduck, 227 Canada Goose, 78 Golden Plover, 1 Grey Heron.

As the afternoon progressed a range of gulls started to drift in to bathe and roost, at first mainly Black-headed and Common Gulls with an increase in the 'larger' gulls, firstly a range of ages of 'argenteus' and 'argentatus' Herring Gulls and a host of Great Black-backed Gulls. A lone adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was also noted. More and more birds came in, some fairly close on the water. I managed to pick out a white-winged gull which showed really well, an Iceland Gull. After watching it for a while it appeared to be a fairly advanced 2nd winter bird (it had a dark eye with grey saddle against fairly brown patterned coverts). More scanning by everyone in the hide resulted in a couple of adult Yellow-legged Gulls being found and some more adult 'argentatus' Herring Gulls. It was good to be able to compare such a range of birds of different ages and different plumage's.

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