Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Jan 13th Strumpshaw Fen

A Flooded View From Reception Hide
For one week only, I am doing a Tuesday morning. I couldn't do this Wednesday due to an appointent so I switched days just for this week.
It was a bit flooded this week at Strumpshaw. The high tides on Sunday from the River Yare had made almost every path underwater. Today, most of the paths are open once again, though very muddy. The view from Reception Hide is proof of this high tide with the broad being quite deep.

At the start of the morning, I had mallards, coots, a pair of gadwall and a greylag to watch. As the light was bright this morning, they were great subjects to photograph. The light brought out the great detail on the gadwall drake's plumage, the green sheen on a mallard drake's head and the 'teeth' between the mandibles of a greylag's orange bill.

Marsh harriers were about in good numbers. About 4 - 5 were in the air at once. One is a well known individual to the reserve as it is a female with a white belly. The white patch is a leucistic marking (a genetic mutation similar to albinism where the whole or part of an animal is white but has no pink eyes) and is quite visible. She has no name, so I will let you decide what I should call her. I also had a kestrel in the distance, a nuthatch and marsh tits on the feeders.

The biggest highlight of the day, though, goes to my first bittern of the new year. I was fortunate enough to spot it leaving a reedbed in the distance towards the river. It came closer and closer, until it landed in the nearest reedbed to us by the left channel. After some time passed, it eventually hopped across the channel to the reedbed on the otherside and vanished on the side facing us. Even more time passed until I saw a strange obscured shape in those reeds. It had come out to the edge where it is more visible. It was there for 15-20 minutes and beyond when I left for my train home. At that time, I got the reserve's scope out to show the arriving visitors and most of the site's volunteers that were here today.

The bittern at one point, made itself look bigger by stretching its neck and bill upwards to look like tall reeds. It then also shrank into a small ball to preen itself. The bittern isn't just a master of camourflage but also a master contortionist too. Adding to this, it can also hold it's own weight on a single stem of reed. Bitterns are fascinating creatures, but few get this kind of privileged views of one and for this length of time too. Maybe I should do Tuesdays more often?



  1. Hi Sean, love your blog. I'm going to let all the other volunteers know where to find it and hopefully get you a few more followers! Rachel