Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Aug 12th Strumpshaw Fen

It was a day of the angler at Strumpshaw today. A day of kingfishers and herons. When I arrived to the reserve early this morning, it was raining lightly. Wearing only a fleece to protect me from the rain, it only got slightly damp. I waited under the roof of the blind beside the Reception Hide for it to ease off. While waiting, I watched common tern dive for fish in front of the hide and was distracted by a fierce piping whistled call. A kingfisher was chasing a rival off his territory in an angry dispute. For the rest of the morning, the kingfisher kept returning in a much peaceful mood as it posed on its perches around the broad and catching small fish to eat.
Male Mallard in eclipse phase
Juvenile Great Crested Grebe

Great White Egret
News came to me about a great white egret at the Tower Hide and the urge was too great not to resist a trip over there during my shift. It is a long walk there and back, but by walking as fast as I could I somehow managed to get to Tower Hide and the return journey in under an hour. It was quite a work out, but it was worth it. A great white egret is a large white heron with a yellow bill. It is another bird that is establishing itself here in the UK thanks to our warming climate. At the moment, these birds are still scarce visitors, but I reckon it won't be long until they become as common as the little egret and making the Norfolk Broads that much closer to looking like the marshes of Southern France, providing a rarther Mediterranean feel to this part of  East Anglia. For now, this individual was quite happy fishing alongside a grey heron with a little egret and some ruff watching and feeding by the shore.

Great White Egret with Grey Heron
Little Egret
Heron catching a Pike
I returned to Reception Hide sweating and tired from the brisk long walk back. I soon recovered and the sun was beginning to break through the clouds. It was nearing lunchtime and for one heron, it had an appetite bigger than its stomach. It hauled up a massive pike that was as big as its own head! It was finding it difficult to kill and swallow it as the heron spent along time wrestling with the large fish. Eventually, the bird maneuvered the fish into postion and after a brief struggle to lift its bill up, down it went, swallowed whole! Makes you think of where it all goes!

What a whopper!!!
Time to stop playing with dinner!
Down it goes!!!!
Small Red-eyed Damselfly
The pond outside the Reception Hide has a small colony of small red-eyed damselflies at the moment. Before I left for home, I had a quick look for them. Now that the sun is out, these damselflies will be making the most of it. So it wasn't long until I had found one posing on the reed stems floating on the pond's surface. This is a smaller version of the red-eyed damselflies that I saw with Barbara earlier this summer and they look very similar. It was only thanks to Ben (a Strumpshaw warden) that I knew this was a different species.

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