Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Jan 6th Strumpshaw Fen

A misty morning at Strumpshaw Fen
It was a very misty start to my first shift at Strumpshaw of the year. The sun was slowly burning it away as rays of sunlight began to cut through it. Song thrushes were singing proudly in the woods. I found one in an alder tree by the meadow trail gates, singing away bathed in the sunlight that managed to break through the mist.

Song Thrush
As I was taking photos of it, I noticed something moving along the path leading to the main entrance to the meadow trail in the corner of my eye. This turned out to be either a weasel or a stoat! It moved into cover before I could really get a good look at it. But for what I saw of it, it was grey-brown above with a white underside. To me, it looked more like a weasel, but it was also more stoat-like in size. I couldn't catch a good enough glance on the tail to really be sure, but I'm certain that the black tip on it which indicates it as a stoat was not there. I only got to see it twice, once as it entered cover and then again as it rushed out of it and across the path leading to the river and into the woods. It was very fast, blink and you had missed it!

Mist over Reception Hide
Cobber the Black Swan
Sunshine in the woods
The mist was fading fast as I stared out from the Reception Hide. Ducks and coots were everywhere on the lake this morning. But it was when they suddenly launched themselves from out of the water and towards the shores of the hide in a panic that I took full notice of them. They were quacking stressfully and huddled together along the shore. It was like a scene from 'Jaws' with the lake almost deserted than it was a moment ago. Don't worry, there wasn't a shark in the water, but there was an otter! As soon as the ducks fled, I scanned for an otter and found it swimming into the lake from the far left channel. It swam closer and closer, ducking and diving continuously as it searched for a meal beneath the surface. It was with us for about 20 minutes before finally leaving down the far right channel. The ducks were still in a state of panic even after the otter was gone and it took a while before life was back to normal again.

Huddling for safety!
Also today; a great spotted woodpecker was visiting the feeders but kept eluding me for a photograph, marsh harriers were about but were not as active as they usually are, and female reed buntings were busy feeding on the heads of reed stems close to the Reception Hide.
Female Reed Bunting
Black-headed Gull


  1. Great photos of the Otter, I've only seen one once and didn't get any photos

    1. I expect you will one day. I see otters at Strumpshaw fairly often. We have a few that have a territory here. So I know they are around, it just takes a lot waiting and patience in a hide and you may see one. I suggest walking along your local river, find signs that they are around such as their poo or half eaten fish and stake the area out. Keep an eye on the ducks too as they will all launch from the water at once when an otter is about. Good luck!