Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Sep 23rd Strumpshaw Fen

Chinese Water Deer
It was quite an eventful morning at Strumpshaw today. Before setting off for my early walk to Fen Hide, I had a quick peek outside Reception Hide with a Chinese water deer grazing closeby. This was a female as her tusks were barely showing unlike a males and her fur was in good condition with her head looking like a teddy bear freshly bought from a toy store.

Shaggy Inkcaps
Signs of autumn was now showing everywhere you look. By a picnic bench, several shaggy inkcap toadstools have appeared during my absence since last week. Some of them were fully developed with black ink dripping from the edges. Spider webs covered every bush, tree and man-made construction on the reserve, looking like amazing works of art. The perfect early light of a September morning glistens on these silky patterns brilliantly, revealing every thread of spider silk in great detail. A few spiders were still building a new web, while others sat in the middle waiting for their next victim to fly into their death trap.

Spider web
Orb-web Spider
Another Orb-web Spider
Guelder Rose berries and autumn colours
From Fen Hide, a kingfisher made a brief visit and was thinking about landing on the closest perch in front of the hide before backing away. The sound of bearded tits pinging alerted me to their presence and I managed to spot one fly into the reeds. I also saw stock doves and a snipe flying by.

Mute Swan
Cormorant and Canada Geese
Kingfisher and Mute Swan
Back at Reception Hide, the same Chinese water deer made a few more appearances as did a kingfisher, which kept landing in front of the reedy islands. A water rail made a quick low flight over the front of the hide before vanishing behind a section of reeds and a pair of grey wagtails showed up close to the hide, but were moving a lot as if to avoid my camera, making me seem slow in comparison. There were a few birds of prey around today too with sightings of a kestrel, hobby and a marsh harrier.
Grey Heron
Marsh Harrier

Inside the hide, people were asking my colleague about otters and at that moment, I spot one outside. You couldn't make it up! The thing was though, this otter was playing hide and seek with us, making us wait as it vanishes behind reedbeds down hidden channels and coves. A crowd was building as the visitors patiently waited for it to come out into the open again. Everyone managed to see it in the end between dives as it was clearly hunting. It was quite difficult to photograph and I ended up with shots of its tail and a hump of its back, appearing like a mini Loch Ness monster. Some of the visitors and my colleague said that they can see a second otter with it, more likely to be a cub, which I couldn't see myself. While waiting for the otter to show up again during one of its moments of hiding, the kingfisher reappeared by the islands and so the visitors were able to see both before even setting out on their walks around the reserve. They had me to thank for finding them for them.
Nessie? No, its the otter again!

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