Wednesday, 25 March 2015

March 25th Strumpshaw Fen

Goat Willow Catkins
As I arrived at Strumpshaw this morning, a green woodpecker sat on a fence post in a paddock near to the car park. I was about to get my camera out from my bag, when it flew off as I was about to unzip my bag. Typical! The sound of yaffling green woodpeckers was like mocking laughter at me as I took my early morning walk before the Reception Hide opened. In the woods, their cousins the great spotted woodpecker were drumming loudly and I heared bullfinches. There seems to be more chiffchaffs this week as I not only heard them but also saw them. They are constantly on the move amongst the branches at this time of year, making it hard to keep them in shot. At least the goat willow catkins that have started to come out were much easier subjects.

Marsh Harriers skydancing
Fen Hide was full of marsh harrier action. The skydances are still going but the dancefloor (the sky) was pretty crowded of displaying couples as about over four birds at a time circled together. The pairs flew really close to each other with talons touching and barrel rolls being used frequently. There was a bit of tension between the couples as they begin to choose nest locations. I believe I have found a possible nest site and I think it is Lilly's (the white bellied female). I will keep a close eye on them over the next few months. Also about during my early walk were a few bearded tits, buzzards, reed buntings and Cetti's warblers.

Reed Bunting
I arrived back at Reception Hide to find a Chinese water deer looking around cautiously by the front of the hide. It was male and he looked like he was in the wars. His coat was showing signs of battle with other Chinese water deer. As they use their tusks to fight, the scars look nasty, but these seem to be old wounds as he seems to be uneffected by them.

Chinese Water Deer

The sound of Cetti's warblers are heard throughout my shift like a loud outburst that can catch you unaware. They often make me jump whenever they are closeby. Sometimes while I'm out on a walk around the reserve, they get so close to me without me knowing, that they shout right into my ears from a bush or reedbed and make me physically jump in surprise! Another highlight in the spring soundscape are booming bitterns. In the distance, I managed to hear one coming somewhere in the direction of the Tower Hide on the other side of the site. It was only just audible but I could hear about four deep booming notes.

Marsh harriers continued to skydance throughout the morning, but they and the buzzards weren't the only bird of prey around. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a small bird being pursued by a sparrowhawk. The small bird dived into a reedbed between the two channels linking to the broad to my right. The sparrowhawk lunged in talons out, but failed to catch the bird. It then became a target for a mobbing crow which chased it away. The sparrowhawk (a female) made a few more appearences past the hide but nothing as dramatic as that. I also saw a kingfisher making a brief flyby today.
Carrion Crow
Blackthorn Bush

1 comment:

  1. The marsh harriers sound amazing - love the idea of them skydancing!