Wednesday, 6 May 2015

May 6th Strumpshaw Fen

I went for a walk along the river trail towards the Tower Hide (but I did not go inside it) this morning. I was trying to find cuckoos, but the wind made it hard to hear them. I didn't get to see or hear any this time, instead I had a glimpse of a garden warbler singing within dense vegetation. A good substitute I thought, but then one of my regulars came up to me as I was heading back and told me there was one calling farther along the river a few minutes ago. I had missed out! Oh well, maybe next week. Here's what else I saw during my walk...
Blue Tit
Grey Heron
Cobber the Black Swan
White-lipped Snail
Bird's-foot Trefoil

Black-head Gull with nesting material
As I was on my walk along the river, black-headed gulls have formed a colony on the Accidental Broad (so called because it was an accidental creation when the reserve was being created all those years ago). Nests were being made on the broad's islands and the noise the birds were making was quite a racket. A few were also making their nests in front of the Reception Hide too. I remember in past years that the main colony was here, at the hide. Their constant calling used to drive me mad and they would also land on the hide's roof squawk agressively at the visitors. In the last two years, the main colony has moved to the Accidental Broad, giving us a bit of peace.

The noisy colony

From Reception Hide, most of the action was in the sky than out on the water. I am actually amazed they could fly in such strong winds at all! Marsh harriers shared the air with hobbies and a kestrel as well as hundreds of swifts, house martins and sand martins. The swifts and martins zoomed over the water at incredible speeds with the hobbies in hot pursuit. You can tell the difference between a swift and a house martin with ease. A swift has sythe-shaped wings and are completely dark coloured. They also screetch as they fly. House martins are easily recognizable with their white rumps. When they fly it looks like a white dot whizzing by. The hobby is a small falcon that catches these birds on the wing with amazing skill, like a Spitfire in a dogfight. It appears like a giant swift high in the sky. I love hobbies, a great bird to watch.

Common Tern
A home for nature - the flowerbed and the bee log
Outside the Reception Hide is a flowerbed. The plants here were selected to attract bees, butterflies and other insects. Despite the wind, orange-tips, green-veined whites and many bees were busy pollinating the flowers which includes honesty and greater celandine. Last year, the Strumpshaw team placed a large log into the bed. It is full of hole drilled into it to attract solitary bees and wasps. It has been a success from day one and has become a favourite spot for me in the spring and summer months. Today, several bees were checking each hole out for a place to lay their eggs. I'm not an expert on bees, but I say there were two species buzzing around the log. It just goes to show that a simple act such as drilling a few holes into a log can mean a lot to wildlife, something you can do at home.
One of the bees, possibly a Red Mason?
Another bee checking a hole out
Green-veined White
Greater Celandine
Green Alkanet

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