Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Jan 27th Strumpshaw Fen

A reedbed on a windy day at Strumpshaw Fen
It was a very windy day at Strumpshaw today. The strong wind has kept most of the birds in the woods into hiding. I could hear bullfinches and long-tailed tits, but I could not find them amongst the waving of branches. Snowdrops have also emerged in the sheltered corners of the woodland trail.


Blue Tit
Wildfowl sheltering from the wind in front of Reception Hide
At Reception Hide, mallards, teal, coots and greylag geese huddled together in front of the hide. They were later joined by a few gadwall and a lone female shoveler. As the morning went on, the wildfowl began to spread out across the broad, almost like they were chased off by something.

Greylag Geese
Male Teal
Female Teal
A sleepy female Mallard
Female Shoveler

Marsh Harrier
 The marsh harriers were enjoying the wind, swooping effortlessly over the reedbeds like pro windsurfers. About four of them were in the air together at once at one point. I have heard that there are more females than males here at the moment and that Lilly, a white bellied female, has returned to the reserve after a few months of her absence. I have tried to look out for her, but she wasn't about today. A female hen harrier had been reported on the reserve in the last two days, but there was no sign of her either this morning.

As I was tucking into my sandwich, a flock of teal came into land by the front of the hide. As they were descending, something else dropped down towards them at speed before swooping back upwards and over the hide. This was a peregrine falcon attack in action! It was so quick, that it ended in a blink of an eye. It was a failed attempt to grab one of the teal in mid-air, but the teal spotted the incoming strike in the nick of time and plunged into the safety of the water. The peregrine can not risk getting a soaking as it will ruin its feathers and its abillity to fly fast, so as soon as the teal had hit the water, its attack failed. In my point of view inside the hide, it was like someone flinging a yo-yo in front of me from above the window. It was so fast, that I had no idea where it came from. Luckly, a few visitors saw the attack from the blind outside and saw it for a bit longer than I did.

Chinese Water Deer
These same visitors came inside to join us and were then treated with a Chinese water deer which came out of the closest reedbed to the hide on my left. At first, it kept walking behind a cover of reeds and you could just see its outline. Then it came out and fed on the reed stubble on the water's edge for several minutes. I think this is a female due to its lack of long tusks that males have protruding out of their mouths. These dog-sized deer are often described as having a teddy bear expression. You can clearly see that in these photos. They are very odd looking aren't they? They appear very prehistoric looking when you see a male with those tusks. To me, they are like vampire teddy bears wandering through the reedbeds. Its a good thing they are vegetarian!
"Can you see me?"
Ducks and Deer

1 comment:

  1. Told you something more exciting would turn up! Great pictures of the Water Deer.