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Thursday, September 5, 2013

2hrs of drama at Pond Hide, Wheldrake Ings

Ah! Wheldrake Ings, a truly awesome place that will be forever stamped in my mind as bird watching heaven! It was here, some 30+ years ago and armed with a 2nd hand pair of binoculars, that I rediscovered birding and turned away from the deviant excesses of youth and if, God forbid, I die tomorrow on the road to Spurn, I will likely haunt the place ... in a genial sort of way of course!

I've tramped around just about every square inch of the place in my time and likely as not been places I shouldn't have been, but at this time of the year there's only one place to be ... Pond Hide. I've sat in there, often alone, for hours on end sometimes and although you'll never get the numbers of birds that drop into equivalent local patches places like Blacktoft Sands or even Tophill Low, at this time of year there's always drama.

So here's an hour or 2 at Pond Hide on Sept 4th in pictures and in the good company of me old chum Mark Paine.

Black Tailed Godwit
Although the evening was warm, sultry even, with high cloud the light was never brilliant but ok for picking up the best of the waders ..... here's a pick n mix of waders  ...Black Tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, Snipe & Ruff.

Green Sandpiper

Pair of Snipes, Wheldrake Ings

Green Sandpiper2

Not sure about the Green Sand but pretty sure that the Godwits and Ruffs bred locally and not migrants. Same thing with the Common Snipes, declining nationally as a breeding bird but doing well at Wheldrake.

Fairly typical and 'so so' selection of waders for this time of year. No sign of the Great White Egret that hung around here for a few days last week but our patience was rewarded with a bit of Wheldrake drama over the last hour before the light went.

First off, one of the Grey Herons that had been stalking around suddenly got all animated and as we focused our bins on the commotion we realised what all the fuss was about .... it was grappling with a young Pike!
Grey Heron with Pike

Never have I seen a Heron grapple with anything this big! 
Grey Heron and Pike2
Grey Heron with Pike in gullet!
The fish was pretty well impaled but even so I fully expected it to somehow wriggle free .... certainly didn't expect to see such a monster swallowed whole ... but I was wrong!

Shortly afterwards there was yet more commotion when Marsh Harrier flew in and took something just beyond the bank. Looked like a young female to me.

Marsh Harrier, juv female?

Water Rail, Wheldrake Ings
In the decidedly murky light we were then treated to better than the usual views of a reasonably common bird here ... but all too often the view is of the 'arse end disappearing into reeds' type of the elusive Water Rail

Water Rail2, Wheldrake Ings

Roe Deer, Wheldrake Ings
Just time for something calm  ... a couple of Roe Deer, one of them a young un' walking on for an evening drink.

Roe Deer, Wheldrake Ings

Sometimes sitting in the hides at Wheldrake, or anywhere, can be a bit of a drag, but if you give it time, invariably something happens!

Last pic .... the old Windmill at Pond Hide at sunset.
Windmill at Pond Hide, Wheldrake Ings

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