Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Dec 24th Strumpshaw Fen

It is Christmas Eve and my last week at Strumpshaw Fen for 2014. My last day started well before it began. While I was walking to the Fen, I heard a rustling noise from the long grass on the roadside verge to my right. A startled Chinese water deer had come out of hiding a few feet from me. It did not run, however, it just stood there and stared at me. I stared back at it's tusked teddy bear-like face for a few minutes until it walked away slowly onto the field.

That wasn't the only Chinese water deer I saw this morning. I found one on the Meadow Trail field, two at Fen Hide and one more at Reception Hide. That makes five in total, a record for me. These small deer are active at this time of year as it is their rutting season. Though they don't form large herds or even have antlers like larger species do. Instead, the males will find and follow a lone female or a small group of females and fight other males away with their tusks until she is ready to mate. Imagine fighting with knives in your mouth and you get the picture of how brutal the damage can be. I have seen males with torn ears and a fur coat that looks moth eaten in the past, but fights can also lead to death. Their teddy-like features may look cute but don't mess with those tusks!

At Reception Hide, a bittern landed into the far reedbed behind the reedy islands. It perched half way up on some reed stems and was showing itself out in full view twice. You could see it posturing its head up high a few times and also was preening itself before vanishing into the reeds as if it was part of it.

 Marsh harriers were very active today. At Fen Hide, I came across two females with green tags on both wings. This indicates that these birds were from Sculthorpe Moor, tagged by The Hawk and Owl Trust in North Norfolk. I couldn't read the numbers on these tags I'm afraid as they were distant. At one point today, I watched 6 harriers in the air together all at once, while being mobbed by the local crows at the same time. It was like a dog fight between harrier and crow worthy of being named as 'The Battle of Strumpshaw!' Elsewhere today; nuthatches in the wood, marsh tits on the feeders (as usual), a breif kingfisher flyby, a snipe and mallard sex (which involves head bobbing courtship with bills touching the water and followed by a game of  'follow the female' before eventual mating).

No comments:

Post a Comment