Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Feb 18th Strumpshaw Fen and Norwich

Strumpshaw is packed with families today as it is half term this week. We have an interactive trail set up for the children to do around the woodland trail. Starting at the Reception Hide, they must look for as many birds as they can from the hide, then in the woods, they had to count the bird boxes, watch woodland birds at a stump, make bird nests and make bird noises (banging wood like a woodpecker, that sort of thing). They could also blow onto a bottle to make the noise of a bittern and wear a pair of marsh harrier wings made of cardboard. I helped out by showing them birds from the Reception Hide. It was busier than usual but it was rewarding.
Girl watching a Robin
Day dreaming about birds

Before the first family arrived this morning though, I did manage a quick walk to Fen Hide and back. There wasn't too much about except for a Chinese water deer, goldfinch and the sound of woodpeckers drumming, sounding like a machine gun battle between 2 - 3 individuals.
Chinese Water Deer
Greylags from Fen Hide
Back at Reception Hide, however, it was pretty busy and I don't just mean visiting families. Outside the hide, there were a lot of greylags (including 3 white ones) with a single Canada goose amongst them. I also showed them mallard, gadwall, teal, a little grebe, coot and four male pochards. But there was one bird I was ordered to search for the children, marsh harriers. They were easy enough half the time, though a bit distant. I was told that I should show them the marsh harrier 'skydance'. I only found it once today (and only the parent could really see it).

Marsh Harrier
A marsh harrier skydance is a courtship display. A male harrier has to show off his fitness to the ladies. To do this, he soars higher and higher in the sky, until he reaches a certain height. Then he plummets downwards, then up again, then back down again like a rollercoster. Inbetween the rises and falls, he adds a few fancy flaps of his wings and produces whistled calls to his potential mate. The male I was watching was successful as she joined in with the dance. She flies close to him, almost close enough to join wingtip to wingtip. Then they both vanish into the reedbeds and I lose sight of them.

While waiting for the train home at Brundall Station, I watched a pair of jackdaws investigate an old woodpecker hole in a tree adjacent to the station. One went in surprisingly easily. It's partner waited it's turn before it too went in. It appears that I have found a nest site or at least the beginning of one.

Back in Norwich, I decided to see if the grey wagtails were around (see yesterday's post). Still no sign of them. However, there was something even better perched on a branch nearby. A kingfisher! My first urban kingfisher in fact as I have never seen one in the city before.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a delightful post about our half term trail and the families and wildlife that visited RSPB Strumpshaw Fen, your pictures are amazing.
    Loved the images of the urban Kingfisher - what a spot Sean well done!