Wednesday, 29 April 2015

April 29th Strumpshaw Fen

A cold breeze sweeps across Strumpshaw and I am glad that I have remembered to bring my coat this week. The woods are finally carpeted blue with bluebells as I made my early walk round the reserve this morning. It is always a delight to see at this time of year. The trees are like rather tall islands in a landscape of blue and green with the sounds of blackcaps and other birds singing all around me, spring is now in full force. Along the river, a common sandpiper flew over me and up river, calling it's high pitched whistles as it went. I also saw a bullfinch in the cherry trees near the office buildings with a great spotted woodpecker flying past.

Spider-hunter wasp Priocnemis perturbator
Despite the windy conditions, there were a few insects about, mostly bumblebees. While walking back from my walk down Sandy Wall, I notice something moving by my feet. It was some kind of solitary wasp with orange and black markings. It seemed to be hunting as it moved in short bursts inbetween short pauses. I took this shot and showed it to Tim, the site's manager and keen wasp fancier. He got a bit interested when I showed it to him. He tells me he thinks it is a spider-hunting wasp called Priocnemis perturbator. These spider-hunting wasps hunt, you guessed it, spiders, paralysing them and taking them to a hole where she lays her eggs on them. The young hatches and eats the spider alive! Nasty!

Common Carder Bee
At Reception Hide, a kingfisher perched on one of it's favourite spots on the edge of a reedbed. This spot is only just in range of my camera. Later this year, you will often see the kingfishers quite frequently and from perches that are in front of the hide. For now, a short visit or flyby is the best you can get of a kingfisher at Strumpshaw.

Marsh Harrier
Marsh harriers were patrolling the reedbeds and I watched a food pass. An immature male (he looked a bit like a female, brown with a cream head) carried a frog dangling from his talons and a female (much larger than him) came up from a reedbed and flew towards him. She flew underneath him and he drops the frog. She catches it and returns to the reedbed that she came up from. I have never seen an immature male do this before. He might be one of the female's young from last year and is helping out with food deliveries. Also seen today were swallows, a little grebe, pochards, shelducks, tufted ducks, greylags, Canada geese, mute swans and the nest-building coots.

Little Grebe
By midday, the weather turned. I could see rain pouring in the horizon and was heading towards us. I closed the hide's windows in preperation. Down it came and quite a lot of it too. By the end of my shift, blue skies were returning in the distance. It was just a short April shower.

My colleague, Bob, also helps out with the Norwich peregrines. He gave me the latest news from the cathedral. He tells me that three chicks have hatched on Monday with the fourth still expected any day soon!

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