Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Aug 19th Strumpshaw Fen

Chinese Water Deer
After yesterday, it was not surprising that the ground was wet underfoot. Thankfully, as the morning progressed, so did the warmth of the sun and yesterday's wet weather was soon forgotten. It turned out to be a nice day. Before my shift started, I made a quick visit to the Fen Hide. A pair of Chinese water deer were grazing in the freshly strimmed open area where a reedbed once stood (as part of the rotatory system to encourage new growth). I believe this is a mother and baby, as one of them was slightly smaller and seems to be 'playing' around, yet not straying far from the other. A young marsh harrier was watching them from a nearby bush, calling for food to be delivered its way, but it never came.
Affection between mother and calf?
Marsh Harrier
A large skein of Greylags
Cobber the resident Black Swan poses for the camera

Everywhere you look, berries were ripening on most of the bushes. From blackberries to rose hips, autumn is showing signs that it is just round the corner now. All these berries and other fruit just looks delicious, but I resist the temptation of picking any of them, leaving them for the wildlife to feast on as they need it more than me.
Guelder Rose Berries
Rose Hips

Say Cheese!!
Reception Hide was packed full of models ranging from adults to children with suitcases of coustumes when I arrived for my shift this morning. They were preparing for a photo shoot around the reserve for a magazine for Natural England (I think). A photographer was busy at work in front of the hide, taking pictures of the models posing as a family admiraring the beauty of the Norfolk countryside.

Little Egret
We weren't intruded by the photo shoot for long and soon we were back watching kingfishers, marsh harriers, herons, cormorants, a little egret, a juvenile great crested grebe and lots of mallards in peace. I was busy showing children and adults alike all these birds through the reserve's telescope and directing them with their binoculars to where each bird of interest was. I was getting into full expert mode, teaching them how to identify each species. Some of the children were really engaged to what I had to say and were excited when they got to see a kingfisher that I found for them through the scope. This is the joy of volunteering!
Juvenile Great Crested Grebe

Willow Emerald Damselfly
After lunch, I quickly went over to the other side of the reserve to try and find some willow emerald damselflies. This is one of Strumpshaw's most recent colonist species and they are quite an attraction for our dragonfly enthusiastic visitors. They seem to only be located in a small dyke between the small boardwalk and the gates of the railway line leading out of the reserve. It can be tricky to spot one, but once you have your eye in you can end up seeing plenty of them. Willow emeralds are large shiny green damselflies and are one of the few damselflies not to lay eggs in water. Instead, they lay their eggs into incisions in the bark of overhanging branches, which form distinctive oval galls. As well as these impressive beauties, I also managed to spot their smaller cousin, the emerald damselfly, which was also wonderful to look at.
Emerald Damselfy

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