Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Dec 2nd Strumpshaw Fen

Great Tit and Marsh Tit
When I arrived this morning at Strumpshaw, I was greeted by the sight of a male bullfinch in the woods. As a shy bird, with one look at me attempting to get a clearer shot with my camera, it was gone! The photography stump in the woods had some equally nice birds visiting for me and someone else with a large camera. Marsh tits, great tits, blue tits, coal tits, chaffinches and a robin were posing well for us in brief visits, but returning moments later for another photo (and for another peanut).

Coal Tit
Marsh Tit
Great Tit
Apart from a few coots, mallards, teal, 2 kestrels, 2 flying herons and about 4 marsh harriers, there was very little to see outside Reception Hide and was pretty quiet. On the feeders meanwhile, it was a different story. Not only were the usual suspects of tits and finches visiting the feeders in large numbers, we also had a nuthatch (which later became two nuthatches) who became a bit of a favourite amongst our visitors arriving for a walk around the reserve. It was constantly coming down to the stumps we place peanuts on and carrying one up into the tree in front of us to cache it between the ivy vines and in other hiding spots it can find. You could only imagine how many it has stored into this tree! I joke to two of my regulars that a peanut tree will grow out from this tree.

Stashing peanuts for another day
Marsh Harrier
I went for a quick walk down to the river to check on the state of the paths while it was still quiet at Reception Hide. The paths along the river was still rarther muddy, especially towards Tower Hide. As I turned back to return to Reception Hide, I notice a brown head with a white throat poking out from the edge of the path for a second. Blink and it was gone, but I knew what it was. It was a stoat! I waited for it to return with no success. As I neared the end of the Sandy Wall path (the main path that takes you towards Fen Hide and the river), something bolted past in front of me, making me jump out of my skin! It was a muntjac deer! Within the second that I saw it, I caught a glimpse of its tail which I used to identify it as a muntjac, as Chinese water deer do not possess much of a tail. I also caught a glimpse of a butterfly, possibly a peacock or a red admiral making full use of the unusally warm December sunshine!

Pheasant (a much friendly one)
If you are planning a trip to Strumpshaw this week or so, I have word of caution for you. Visitors have been telling me that there is a vicious male pheasant between Tower Hide and the Lackford Run path. The visitors tell me that it comes at you and attacks you with it's sharp claws on it's feet. They reveal the scratch marks on their legs. Ouch! It attacks you for about five minutes before moving on. It even has attacked one of our warden's quadbike, getting a leg caught in a wheel spoke while still lashing out with the other leg. I think it has a vendetta against humans as it is the shooting season in the countryside surrounding the reserve. So beware of an angry pheasant next time you walk beyond Tower Hide.

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