Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Sep 2nd Strumpshaw Fen

Fen Hide was packed this morning when I arrived this morning. They were all my regulars that I see most weeks, all inside the hide armed with their large cameras with fingers on the trigger, ready for anything to appear. I guess the bird on everyone's lips at the moment is the osprey. Everyone, including me, wants to see one hover over the reserve and catch a fish. These big fish-hunting birds are making their way south at this time of year and stop over at Strumpshaw during the first few weeks of September to fuel themselves up for the long journey to Africa. One has been reported at Rockland Broad, just a few miles down the river and was apparently heading our direction. Unfortunately, it was a no show. At least the great white egret is still here (now into its fourth week at the Tower Hide), as we could see it flying around testing its wings.

While waiting for the osprey that never came, we did see some bearded tits flying low from reedbed to reedbed, with a series of pinging to let you know they were there in case you had missed them. A kingfisher made a couple of visits, posing on two of the three perches purposefully placed for it to land on, but not the closest one which would have been more ideal for my camera's clearest focus range. A young marsh harrier sits on top of a bush, but not for long. A few crows harassed and mobbed the poor harrier from his spot and chased it for some time in the air. The harrier was calling, either for its parents to help out or in annoyance to the crows persistent attacks.

Carrion Crows mobbing a Marsh Harrier
Peace for now...
...but not for long!
Little Egret
Cobber the Black Swan and the Little Egret
Canada Geese
Kingfisher again
Mute Swan
Mute Swan Cygnet
A happy family!
Grey Heron
Wasp chewing wood off  Fen Hide to build a nest with
Water Shrew (with parasites)
Leaving the Fen Hide, I made my way back to the Reception Hide to start my shift. On the way, I scanned the wooden border for any lizards. I found one and a few dragonflies. A little further up, I then found something different and unexpected patrolling along the edge of the path, following the wooden border for its next meal. It was a water shrew, my first ever!! This grey and silver small mammal is rarely seen on the reserve and since I became a volunteer here in 2011, I have never seen one before. Water shrews are normally very secretive, foraging waterways at a fast pace searching endlessly for insects and other small creatures it happens to find. This is also Britain's only venomous mammal, but the toxin is not potent enough to kill a person. I end up following it down the path, occassionally running on top of the wooden border. It was, to me, more exciting than seeing an osprey, as it was a completely new experience to me as I watch it scurry, pause and eat, scurry, pause and eat repeatedly. It was difficult to get a good photo before it moved again.

Scurrying to the next meal
Searching on top of the wooden path border
Common Darter
At Reception Hide, the search for ospreys continued with little success. It didn't help that I was distracted by showing children kingfishers, herons, little egrets and marsh harriers through the scope and the weather also turned from nice to a shower, making hunting conditions for any ospreys out there much more difficult. It didn't matter about seeing an osprey or not, I still love seeing kingfishers and marsh harriers and sharing with others a lot more. Besides, I might see one next week. Fingers crossed!
Marsh Harrier at Reception Hide
Little Egret at Reception Hide

1 comment:

  1. Well done on getting photos of the shrew! The kingfisher is great. Only time I see them is when a flash of green whizzes past and disappears.