The weather promise tomorrow seems unbearably hot for birding so out this morning by 8.30 to check the local Fens. First a visit to the, looking lovely, flooded and disused gravel pits at close by Baston, Lincolnshire before carrying on to Baston Fen Reserve followed by Willow Tree Fen Reserve, the last two sites owned and monitored by Lincolnshire Wildfowl Trust.
|Baston Gravel Pits - Western lake
|Find the Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus and Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on the island
The nearby fields and wires held a number of Starlings along with a couple of Kestrels. A large flock of Rooks was feeding on a recently ploughed field as were hundreds of Black-headed Gulls. A Magpie wandered across the road as I set off for Baston Fen reserve. All very quiet here and the local men had turned up to mow the meadow so I continued on along the drove to the better-known Willow Tree Fen on the outskirts of Tongue End.
|Willow Tree Fen looking south
|Willow Tree Fen looking west - where the Cranes are usually seen (at the back on white flowers)
However, my time spent on the entry bridge with one other local birder and the lady member of the Trust supervising the site from 7 till 10am before handing over to a colleague, was not without interest. At least five Marsh Harriers and a single Buzzard were noted but my favourite sighting was that of a Hobby quartering the rear of the fields in front. Most probably the arrival of both Marsh Harriers and the Hobby were sufficient to keep the Cranes out of sight. Lots and lots of Wood Pigeons on site and Collared Doves behind me. Smaller birds included a small charm of Goldfinch and a dozen or so House Sparrows.
|Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus over Willow Tree Fen
Looking down the main track into the reserve I was able to also see many Crows and a few Magpies. A cock Pheasant wandered along the far end picking up gravel and just before departing a large flock of Rooks passed southwards along the back of the site. This is indeed a lovely site and standing next to the Counter Drain I could not but be impressed by the cleanliness of the water which seemed to be overflowing with healthy young fish. Managed by the Drains Board no fishing is allowed and, evidently, this is one of the cleanest waters on the Fens, where most are already in a very healthy state.
|Herring Gull Larus argentatus at Baston Gravel Pits
Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Hobby, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.
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