Thursday, 18 February 2016

Feb 18th Wheatfen Broad

I am across the other side of the river to Strumpshaw Fen at a small nature reserve called Wheatfen Broad this morning with my dad. This reserve belongs to the Ted Ellis Trust and includes Surlingham Wood as well as reedbeds and the broads themselves. Ted Ellis was a local naturalist, writer and broadcaster and used to live in the cottage on the site, which is still owned by the Ellis family. I've actually been inside it with my college creative writing course group in 2009 as Ted Ellis' grandson was also on the course with me and he invited us all for a fieldtrip at the reserve.

Walking around a muddy Wheatfen Broad!
Today though, I was here for a walk with my dad. It wasn't the best day for it as it was raining, but thankfully not hard. After yesterday's walk along the river at Strumpshaw, I have come prepared for the mud. Though I still am only wearing my walking boots, I have brought my hiking pole with me to help keep my balance and to navigate over the worst parts. I am so glad that I brought it with me as it was extremely muddy, probably worse than it was at Strumpshaw. The only downside now to stumbling around in the mud was that it scared the birds away. We did see a treecreeper, long-tailed tits, goldcrests and blue and great tits, but they soon vanished from sight whenever I took my bridge camera out from the cover of my coat. The sound of song thrushes singing and drumming great spotted woodpeckers were heard from throughout the woodland and we managed to see this female woodpecker at the top of a tall distant tree.

Great Spotted Woodpecker
Red-legged Partridge
Somekind of bracket fungi
Wheatfen Broad
The mud was getting worse and worse the further we walked in the reserve and though there were short paths of coppiced branches, they didn't cover all of the worst parts of the mud. We came out of the wood and into fenland. There was a section where the path was a long narrow boardwalk (more like 'branchwalk' to me!) over water on either side. One false move and I would have fallen in! Thankfully I didn't and I was rewarded with views of the reserve's broads and further up, there was something even better.
Graet Tit

I manage to spot two or three redpolls posing on the branches of some trees close to the path. This is a small finch I have never photographed before and I am so pleased to finally get the opportunity. Redpolls are brown with a red forehead. Dad thinks they look like little hindus with those red dots on their foreheads (called a bindi by the way). These finches are winter visitors and there are at least two species, common and mealy, that visit the UK regularly. Both species are almost identical to each other, though one is lighter than the other. These are probably mealy redpolls, but to be honest, a redpoll is a redpoll to me. We also saw a marsh harrier today and best of all, sunshine! Yep, the sun had finally came out and brightened the day up, just as we were leaving! Typical!
Reflections in the water
Hazel Catkins

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