Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Dec 9th Strumpshaw Fen

Sunshine and Highland Cattle
What a lovely morning! It is bright and sunny, but slightly chilly. Though December is a quiet and muddy month at Strumpshaw, this does not mean it isn't worth visiting at this time of year. This morning's sunshine in itself was a good reason, watching the bright light bathe over the Highland cattle grazing in the meadow as I went for my usual walk. I also caught sight of a buzzard being mobbed by a crow.

Buzzard being mobbed by a crow
When visiting Strumpshaw, a lot of visitors just walk straight through the woods to get to the other two hides once they have popped into the Reception Hide to show their cards to us. They often return saying that there wasn't much around. I find that this hard to believe. This morning, I didn't have to stray far from the Reception Hide to see great birds. The woodland trail is busy with bird activity. At a slow pace, I managed to see a handsome male bullfinch searching the bushes for food. It was a bit flighty, but with patience it stayed long enough for a couple of photographs. The slow and steady pace worked a treat!

Marsh Tit
Greeting my arrival inside Reception Hide, a kingfisher was sitting on one of the posts close to the hide. I only managed to see it for a few seconds before it took off, not enough time to draw the camera up to get a shot of it! Marsh harriers were busy scaring the teals, mallards, gadwalls and shovelers up into the air several times.
Marsh Harrier

Wildfowl fleeing from the Marsh Harriers
By the end of my shift, I went for a quick look in the woods again. No bullfinches this time, but the sound of 'Tseep! Tseep! Tseep!" alerted me to the presence of redwings. I soon located them eating the berries off the holly bushes beside the office courtyard. Just as with the bullfinch I saw earlier, they were always moving around. Unlike the bullfinch though, redwings are more approachable and I got to within a few feet from the bush they were in, using cover to break up my outline. They are beautiful little thrushes with red sides as eyecatching as a robin's breast. With Christmas just a couple of weeks away, seeing these Scandinavian birds amongst the holly today has made me feel a bit festive spirited!

Female Blackbird
Male Blackbird

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