Wednesday, 9 March 2016

March 9th Strumpshaw Fen

Mute Swan
This morning was cold, wet and miserable as it was raining consistently throughout. I only went for a short walk to Fen Hide and got pretty wet just getting there. There was no point in looking for hares in the fields today while the weather was like this. My last week at Strumpshaw as a twenty-something year old was a washout. But there was one lovely early birthday surprise in store for me at Fen Hide that made it worth getting soaked for. As well as the marsh harriers, mute swans, greylags and shovelers, I found a snipe that had me puzzled. Was it a common or a Jack snipe?

Jack Snipe
I found the snipe by chance while spotting a female shoveler in the stubble of an area of cleared reedbed. The bird gave itself away when I saw some movement nearby from the shoveler. It was continuously bobbing, almost frantically at times, like an uncontrollable tic. This was clear behaviour that led me to think it was a Jack snipe. The markings were also Jack snipe-like, especially with the double eye stripe and a striped crown at the top of its head. The only thing confusing me was the bill, which should be short. To me, the bill seamed longer than it should. I showed the photos and video that I took of the snipe to Ben (one of the wardens at Strumpshaw) and he was also convinced that it was a Jack snipe. He went over to Fen Hide to see for himself and he later confirmed that it was indeed a Jack snipe, my first ever!

Coot on its nest
At Reception Hide, we had no visitors come through today (though apparently there was one sneeky visitor on the reserve who didn't pay us a visit first). My collegue and I ended up with the hide and the birds to ourselves all morning. There wasn't many birds to see though. The number of ducks were halved compared to last week, but there was still a good mixture of species around, including pochards, tufted ducks, shovelers, teal and gadwall. Marsh harriers were not put off by the rain and were soaring over the reedbeds with three together at the same time at one point. Behind the hide, I
did manage to photograph this lovely bullfinch in the woods, looking bright in the terrible conditions.

Tufted Ducks
Marsh Harriers in the rain
Female Gadwall
Male Gadwall
Marsh Tit
Cutting my cake!
While watching the wildlife from Reception Hide, the hide's phone rang. I was told to walk over to the office to cut a cake! My mum had bought a chocolate birthday cake for me to celebrate my birthday early with everyone working at Strumpshaw. Dispite the lack of candles, I did the honours of cutting the first slice. I was given a card (and a second one from my collegue working with me at the hide) and a present from everyone. It was a chocolate Easter bunny or in my case, a chocolate Easter hare. I did see a hare after all today, in chocolate form, the best kind of hare there is!

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