Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Nov 25th Strumpshaw Fen

Short-eared Owl
After popping into Fen Hide during my pre-shift walk and finding absolutely nothing, I went for a walk down to the river. When I reached the river, someone came up to me and said there was a short-eared owl sitting by the bank half way up to the pump house. I went to check it out. I actually walked past it at first before a visitor behind me called me back over. And there it was, sitting on a post by the bank close to the steps leading to the meadow trail. The visitor insisted in getting a bit closer to it. He ended up just ten yards from it before I had to physically stop him from going any closer and scaring it off completely. This was way too close, but amazingly the owl sat there the entire time and just stared at us with half opened eyes!

I did not want to be this close, but the owl did not seem to care about us being there. It gave us a chance to get some great shots in with our cameras. Its yellow eyes seemed to be giving me a fixed stare deep into my own through its tired-looking eyelids. It sat there almost motionless like a large ball of feathers. The subtle brown markings beautifully decorate every part of its body and the tufts on its head that make up the ears were just visible. I managed to convince the visitor to back off from the owl and return to the bank. The news of it had spread and more visitors were arriving to see it.

Bright sunshine over the pump house
Female Goosander
Back at Reception Hide, the broad was full of teal, mallard, coots, a pair of mute swans and the odd gadwall and shoveler. Hiding behind the reedy islands, a strange duck caught my eye. It was a female goosander! It is the first one I have seen at Strumpshaw, but I do know they occasionally visit this reserve during the winter months. She did eventually came out from behind the reedy islands for our visitors to get a good look at her for about ten minutes before taking off and disappearing beyond the reedbeds. You could see her shaggy brown crest and her red long, hook-tipped bill quite well. We also saw marsh harriers, a buzzard being mobbed by crows and a kestrel today.

Mute Swan taking off
Splash down!
Mute Swan
Marsh Harriers and Buzzard
Marsh Harriers, Crows and Buzzard
Buzzard mobbed by crows
We were short of staff at Strumpshaw today and I was given a job to do (which is rare, I know). My job was to close the path leading to Tower Hide because the river was flooding it. I had to take a sign to the end of the path, transporting it with a wheelbarrow. It was an easy job, but an important one. You can see in this photo how high the river levels were. It shows the jetty we use being completely submerged. We wouldn't want any visitors to swim to Tower Hide now would we?

1 comment:

  1. Wow, amazing to get so close to any owl like that, glad you stopped the other person getting any closer though, well done.