Wednesday, 3 June 2015

June 3rd Strumpshaw Fen

The wind from yesterday has died down and in its place, glorious sunshine. On the walk to Strumpshaw this morning even the buttercup field was glowing spectacularly yellow. On the reserve, a cuckoo was calling proudly from the otherside of the river and I spot a whitethroat, a female pheasant with chicks, chiffchaffs, a alderfly and a few damselflies.

Female Pheasant
Female Variable Damselfly
Azure Damselfly
Drinker Moth Caterpillar
The new look inside Reception Hide
At Reception Hide, there was a change of interior. The hide has had a paint job done inside. It is now bright and rather white with a slight scent of paint. I was assured that it is now dry. Outside, I saw a pochard and went down to the sightings board to write it up. When I got back to my seat, I was in for a surprise. Just like they usually do, a dog otter magically appeared from nowhere in front of the islands. Where did he come from? He wasn't hanging around though, as he patrolled the edge of the reedbeds before vanishing down the far right channel. I also spot a hobby, a sparrowhawk and a common tern today.

Common Tern
Swallowtail Fever!
To be honest, I spent less time in the hide this morning. Not because it is nice, but because swallowtail fever was calling me to watch the nectar garden. At least two swallowtails at a time were feeding on the flowers. Butterfly enthusiasts were pouring into Strumpshaw, most were from as far as the South Coast of England. They didn't have to go far to see one today and they soon crowded around the flowerbed with their cameras at the ready. Swallowtail fever is contagious! A few of the enthusiasts stayed and staked out the flowers, waiting for the next swallowtail to appear.

One of the swallowtails kept coming back now and then. It was recognisable as it has one of it's streamers missing a chunk of it and it's wings were slightly torn. Swallowtails are territorial and will often fend off anything that is in it's airspace, including birds! In these disputes, their wings get torn. I believe this one has been in a fight recently.

A Jewel Wasp
Another Jewel Wasp
Though I was enjoying watching these brilliant butterflies, I also had one eye watching the bee stump. It has been very busy today and hardly anyone was taking any notice of it. There were so many soiltary wasps looking for somewhere to lay their eggs. My favourites were the jewel wasps, in which there are a few species on the stump. These very tiny wasps are very beautiful and have shiny red abdomens. The problem is, they are also quite fast movers. It was hard to focus the camera on them before they moved again.

Another species which I am not sure of
Another beauty on the log this morning was a wasp beetle. These beetles has the yellow and black warning stripes of a wasp but are completely harmless. They also depend on wood to lay their eggs in, so the stump will, by now, be full of eggs from many species of insects which will hatch and feed on the rotting wood. So, go find a log, drill holes into it and put it in your garden, the insects love it!

Wasp Beetle
Apart from swallowtails, there were other butterflies enjoying the nectar garden including brimstones, large whites, green-viened whites, peacocks, red admirals and a common blue. The butterfly enthusiasts went trigger happy on the common blue in particular. It is such a striking colour on top of the white flowers.

Red Admiral
Male Common Blue
Common Blue with wings closed
Peregrine Chick
Back in Norwich, the peregrine chicks have grown and are close to fledging soon. One can be seen poking it's head out from the nesting platform several feet up Norwich Cathedral's spire. At the River Wensum, looking down from Fye Bridge, I watch the fish swimming in the clear water. Today, the light and the water is in perfect condition to see them well. I am not much of a fish expert, nor am I a fisherman, but I was told these are chub. Apparently, I need to look for their big wide mouth and white lips when it comes to identifying them.


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