Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter and Welney

It's already proving to be a hard winter even though winter doesn't officially start until Tuesday! A couple of weeks ago we had the first hoar frost I can remember in a long time. I snuck out of the house for a ten minute lunch break on the day as I couldn't resist the opportunity that the frost and the clear blue skies had presented. Oh for a few hours to play with!

You can tell the direction of the prevailing wind from this close-up:

As well as enjoying the hoar frost we've been digging a new flower and vegetable border in an area of the lawn. Unfortunately, freezing weather coupled with all the builders' rubble one-inch below the surface, is making it very slow going.
Rather than be trapped at home again this weekend, after the thankfully light snowfall, we decided to take a trip to Welney WWT as this also gave us an opportunity to catch up with an old friend, returned briefly from Taiwan for a Christmas visit.
We timed our arrival for opening time so got to enjoy a near empty main hide. As usual the swans were the stars of the show. Here a Whooper Swan adult surveying the ice (90% of the usual water was covered in ice):

A close-up to see the bill pattern:

A juvenile enjoying it's first winter at Welney:

Another regular winter visitor is the Common Pochard, this drake was fast asleep outside the window, waiting no doubt for the noon feed due a couple of hours hence:

As well as the Whooper and Mute swans that were in front of the main hide, two remote Bewick's were visible on a distant patch of free water. A closer but still reasonably distant bird, and the second we've ever seen, was this Tundra Bean Goose:

The sun, just two days from its lowest point, was remarkably weak, really struggling to penetrate even thin cloud, hence the temperature not rising above -5c while we were at Welney.

Before a warming cup of tea at the visitor centre and our drive to Peterborough for lunch, we enjoyed watching Meadow Pipits scurrying and sliding around on the ice:

We were lucky the snow hadn't trapped us in nor indeed affected our weekend plans. Fingers crossed then for our next trip!

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