Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Oct 28th Strumpshaw Fen

Halloween at Strumpshaw!
Guess what? It is raining again at Strumpshaw on a Wednesday morning! It began as I reached the top of the road leading to the reserve. This road is prone to flooding and today was pretty bad, so bad that cars were diverted and the road was closed. Thankfully, as I was on foot and could walk around it. However, I still got wet from the rain. It was relentless and remained for most of the morning. I had no umbrella with me this time. It was a horrible day!

It is Halloween this week, as well as half term and Strumpshaw's latest activity trail for children to do while off school happens to be a spooky theme. The trees around the woodland trail are decorated with scary eyes, bats and a manner of other things. It is a shame that the weather is preventing families from arriving this morning.

A spooky tree
A spooky bat!
Another spooky tree!
Blocking my path to Fen Hide!
Even though it was raining, I decided to pop into Fen Hide before my shift began. But when I got to the top of the path leading towards the hide, I came across a moment of deja vu. I was being blocked by the same heron from last week. It was standing in my way... again! It seemed preoccupied, as if hunting something on the edge of the path. I was getting wet and I wanted to get into the dry of the hide fast, so I walked onwards. This made the heron move, but only a few feet further down the path. I ended up walking the heron down to the hide before it finally took off. There wasn't much about in the hide and after spending some time watching the rain while talking to some of the other brave souls who ventured to the hide before me this morning, I made my way back to the Reception Hide. Guess who was waiting for me outside Fen Hide? Yep, the heron was blocking my path yet again!

Grey Heron
Carrion Crow
It was a good day for ducks. The mallards, teal, gadwall and shoveler were happy enough feeding in the rain and swimming around the lake in front of Reception Hide. Not so much fun for the marsh harriers, who were soaring over the reedbeds dispite the poor conditions. A kingfisher made three quick visits during my shift and a bittern flew over the far reedbed. Other than that, it was rain, rain and more rain.
Black-headed Gull
Rain, rain and more rain!

Marsh Harrier
Female Shoveler

Eventually, the weather eased off a bit, building up to the biggest highlight to lighten up this miserable morning. I had just finished eating my lunch when one of our few visitors of this morning sitting with me spotted a bittern. In typical bittern fashion, it has sneaked in under the radar and was standing out in the open by the reedbed in front of the hide. The word had soon spread and the hide was full with nearly every member of staff on duty in the office to see it. One of my collegues wished it would move a little bit, but as she said that out loud, it disappeared into the reeds just as more staff members arrived.

It wasn't gone for long though, as it reappeared again a few minutes later, poking its head out a little further along the reedbed. It then came out, creeping even closer towards us. It posed on top of a small mound in the area cleared by strimming. We watched it morph its body into many shapes. From crouching into a small stalking creature to stretching upright with its bill in the air, resembling a section of reedbed the best it could. The bittern even did a strange shaky wobble dance to make the section of reedbed it was pretending to be look as if a breath of wind has blown against it! The bittern was with us for 15-20 minutes before finally taking off. One of the best bittern sightings I have had at Strumpshaw for some time.
Can you spot the bittern?

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous pictures Sean! So pleased the bittern came out today, it brightened everyone's day and it was the best sighting I've ever had of a bittern.