Sunday, 10 February 2013

YWT Wheldrake Ings - 9 February 2013

A quick hour at my favourite YWT nature reserve revealed a lot of water and a lot of birds! The new sign at the top of the lane was much more visible now that the nettles had died down and will hopefully be useful for people who have not visited before.

Entering the flood just before the car park I wondered if I had made the right decision, but remembered that if I took the foot off the gas water could sucked up the exhaust pipe, so I pressed on. I arrived with shiny washed wheels safely on the hard standing before the bridge.

Over the bridge, the nature reserve was very flooded still, with only bushes poking out of the water and an occasinal berm of higher land. As is usual with Wheldrake in winter, birds teemed across the wide vista and the sound of Wigeon, Teal and gathering gulls filled the air.

The view east from the Bailey Bridge

A large gang of gulls was loafing on a strip of land not too far away so I made my way on to the Bailey Bridge and put my 'scope up. Shortly, a smart adult Iceland Gull dropped in and began preening. Late winter seems to be the best time to pick up these white-winged Arctic gulls and later on a younger bird, a first winter arrived to roost along with a much larger first winter Glaucous Gull. The gull roost was impressive with several thousand large gulls, mostly Herring and Great Black-backed, and a few thousand Common and Black-headed Gulls also present.

 Adult Iceland Gull (centre), with a preening Herring Gull and a Carrion Crow.

Among the hordes of gulls, several Goldeneye displayed, tossing their heads back to ambivalent females. Flights of graceful Pintail passed by and large groups of Teal dabbled in the shallows. As I peered through the gloom as 5 o'clock approached, a Little Owl called from the lane and a couple of Water Rails squealed from the marshy vegetation behind the car park. A fine Barn Owl flew in front of the car on they way back to Crockey Hill, a fine end to an enjoyable hour at Wheldrake Ings.

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