Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Unusual Fenland Visitors

Nick Carter, Conservation Officer (Fens)

The breeding season is now underway on the wetland creation site near Hilgay, although the continuing cold weather must be causing problems for adult birds looking for insects to feed their young.  The sand martins have excavated new burrows and are working hard to catch the meagre numbers of flying insects around.  Last week I watched a hobby catching insects at close quarters but the insects were too small for me to identify.  Waders too seem to be struggling, with lapwing eggs disappearing from nests, probably as a result of predation.  

Common seal in the Fens, photo by Darren Williams
Grey herons and little egrets are regularly seen on-site but a recent surprise visitor was a great white egret. It has been around the Fens for some time and dropped in to the site but did not stay. Although the site is still under construction it is exciting to see that wetland birds are already moving in.

The most surprising visitor to the Fens was seen by Darren Williams, a local member, while picking his kids up from Ten Mile Bank on the River Great Ouse.  He has got some great pictures of a common seal, and in one of them he has caught it eating a pike, which must have been taken by surprise by this normally marine predator. Although seals have been seen in Fenland rivers before, including a common seal filmed near St Ives in the New Year, it’s certainly an unexpected find; lucky Darren had his camera with him!

Common seal eating a pike, photo by Darren Williams

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