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Monday, December 17, 2012

Northern swan hunting in the floods of the Derwent Valley


A fine day yesterday and a perfect opportunity to procrastinate yet again over my Xmas shopping and pop out for a couple of hours to the Derwent Valley in search of Northern swans. I'd heard there were a few Berwick's Swans in the area, these days the scarcer of the 2 species that arrive in our country from the near Arctic circle.

I decided to head out from the Bubwith bridge end along the narrow strip of river bank still above the flood water simply because it looked so inviting .... almost surreal walking out there with the light  being so good.
With so much flood water about though the wildfowl in the valley are spread far and wide so I knew it would be a stroke of luck to get what I was after, a nice close 'fly past' of Berwick's Swans ..... and as far as that particular species was concerned I was not in luck. In fact this was more of a pleasant walk than a serious birding trip. Wigeon and Teal were the most numerous ducks with maybe 200 or so of each visible and there were 20 or so Pochard about but everything very distant. I did have 6 Redshank nr the bridge plus a flock of about 50 Golden Plover in the sky. A passing Buzzard looked good in the sunlight and the Barn Owl was once again daytime hunting near the Geoffrey Smith hide.
There were several small groups of distant swans about but too far off to identify without my scope but I did have one Whooper Swan that slid off the bank about 100 yds away. It moved away fairly sharpish and a bit far away for a decent shot but my first of the Winter and the highlight of my little trip across the floods.


  1. I don't think I could resist that walk across that little strip of land, I'm guessing it's not normally that flooded.

  2. Not normally this bad (or good, depending on your point of view!), the whole area is a flood plain and most years the valley floods at least once and attracts tens of thousands of assorted wildfowl and if it happens in Spring anything can turn up!