Welney WWT & Wicken Fen NT

A day out braving the weather that had totally written off Saturday.  By Sunday cabin fever had set in so in haste, I decided to head up to the wetlands reserve at Welney with the promise of a warm comfortable cafe and an equally warm hide for a far more agreeable view than that of my front room.

It turned out to be a stellar day.

It was dank, and grey, and for the second week running, a named storm spread across the country subjecting large parts to untold misery as a result of the heavy rainfall.  Welney had been impacted too - one half of the trail had been closed due to flooding.  The main hide was open though and the views from the cafe over the fen are always impressive.

Swirling masses of Golden Plover and Lapwing filled the leaden grey skies, constantly agitated by passing raptors.  Only Marsh Harrier were noted but others may have fused in with the swarm of waders present.  A large group of Black-tailed Godwit were also present here.

Seven Crane were seen distantly from the cafe.  A Great Egret lurked within the reedbed that was equally distant.  At least three Tree Sparrow were busy feeding with their more common cousins, associating with at least a dozen Reed Bunting.

Just a single drake Goldeneye bobbed about on the flooded fen and over a hundred Common Pochard represented encouraging numbers for this species.  A few Whooper Swan remained while the majority were out in the surrounding fields tucking into provisions in amongst the arable.

It was a really nice relaxing day but by mid-afternoon, I set off home.

That was until I saw the sign for Wicken Fen NT not really appreciating that it was pretty much on my route back.  So with an hour or so of daylight left, I popped in to check it out.

What a place.  The sky began to clear, and the late stages of the day were illuminated by a glowing sunset.  Sedge Fen looked immaculate.  I took refuge from a biting wind in the Boardwalk hide.  The light began to fade, which was when the fun started.

A Barn Owl surged across the fen at middle-distance with darkness commencing it's daily routine.  
Then seemingly out of nowhere, two ringtail Hen Harrier appeared, wheeling around to the left of the hide. 

Around five minutes later, a male soared in, an awesome sight, the shimmering grey illuminating the fading fenscape.  

It flew around for at least 20 minutes, at one point tussling with a Barn Owl that had crossed its path.  

Hen Harrier and Barn Owl

Spellbinding scenes with a backdrop worthy of these immaculate birds.  A total of three Hen Harrier and four Barn Owl in a period of around half an hour.

All this just fifty minutes from home.


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