There were two fine drake goosanders on Drayton Lagoon, this afternoon, with two redheads in close attendance. The redheads are probably females, but young and eclipse males can also look like the females at a distance. The drake and redhead smew are also still present on Swavesey Lake.
Another good showing from the starlings, with 8 to 9,000 coming in to roost. Only one sparrowhawk, but that was enough to take one unlucky victim.
With plenty of ice around, foxes have been seen walking out from the edges of the lakes. Brave souls, as I don't think the ice is particularly thick at the moment.
Well, we had our first snow of the winter period, this morning, but it only lasted half an hour and didn't really come to much. The most significant change, however, is that some of the lakes have started to freeze over, most notably Holywell Lake. Oxholme Lake, Elney Lake & Far Fen Lake are all showing significant amounts of ice. As the lakes freeze, the birds are concentrated into smaller areas and actually show better as they cannot hide in the frozen margins.
As a result, today's bird sightings were quite impressive. The drake and redhead smew remain on Swavesey Lake and the drake goosander is still on Drayton Lagoon. Unfortunately, the long-tailed duck could not be found today.
Bitterns showed well at Elney Lake and, this afternoon, were seen walking out into the open on the ice. Bearded tits were heard calling from the reeds on the islands here.
It was a good day for birds of prey. A female marsh harrier flew north over Holywell Lake at lunchtime &, almost immediately after, a male peregrine did the same, this time being mobbed by one of the local kestrels. At least four sparrowhwks enjoyed the starling roost, with one being successful in making a kill.
The starling roost itself was one of the better ones in recent times. The light was fantastic and the attentions of the sparrowhawks meant that the starlings stayed in the air longer and made some amazing shapes as they swerved to avoid being the unlucky one. Numbers were estimated at around 12,000.
Pick of the weekend's sightings was our first drake smew of this winter period. This fine male joined the redhead on Swavesey Lake on Sunday. Another 'sawbill', a male goosander, was also seen over the weekend, on Drayton Lagoon on Saturday. These ducks are known as sawbills because of the serrated edge to their beak - handy when you are trying to keep hold of a slippery fish.
In the meantime, the immature long-tailed duck relocated to Ferry Lagoon and is now favouring the south-eastern corner. I've placed a couple of photographs in the Gallery, taken by local photographer Garth Peacock & our very own volunteer Nigel Sprowell - well done chaps!
Bitterns were seen at both Elney Lake and Holywell Lake - please can we ask visitors to keep to the paths and rights of way to avoid disturbing these birds? The freezing conditions are now upon us & this usually brings the higher numbers to roost at Fen Drayton Lakes. In previous years, 4 or 5 have been present. However, the ice on the lakes can make it difficult for the birds to find food. Last winter, supplementary feeding was required at some sites. If the cold snap continues & this is again considered necessary, we'll let you know what is happening at Fen Drayton Lakes through this blog.
The starlings continued in similar numbers over the weekend and were enjoyed by many hardy souls. Don't forget to stay on after the first group has dropped into the reeds and many more arrive afterwards and the crows, rooks and jackdaws often fly in later.
We had some waders of interest as well, this weekend, with a flock of over 40 black-tailed godwits and a dunlin at Ferry Lagoon.