Wednesday, 27 April 2016

April 27th Strumpshaw Fen

Rain? What rain? The weatherman was wrong again today! Though it was bright and sunny for most of the day, there was still a strong cold breeze in the air. I am glad that I was wearing an extra layer this morning. As for my remaining twenty targets for my Strumpshaw challenge, I still can't find any of them anywhere. There are some people who have so far are nearing the thirty mark already! I have to look really hard if I want to catch up!

In the woods as I was looking for hares this morning, the bluebells are stunning now. The woodland floor is almost fully blue with them. The bells of these lovely flowers were being blown back and forth by the wind, appearing as if they were ringing in unison between the towering trunks of trees. Meanwhile, hovering near the pumphouse by the river was a kestrel. They always make you wonder how they can stay to one spot in mid-air when strong gusts of wind shakes everything else off balance. I also heard the grasshopper warbler during my early walk this morning.

Great Crested Grebe
Marsh Harrier with nesting material
I had just enough time to visit Fen Hide before I had to go and help out at Reception Hide. The marsh harriers have been entertaining to watch from here today. They were so good that I went back to watch them again after my shift finished. The skydances are nearly over now, though there were still a few displaying males around making dives and calls to attract a female. Most of the harriers have paired up and have started doing food passes and collecting nesting material to build their nests. One pair outside Fen Hide had me hooked to their every movement. The female was busy flying to various sections of reedbed and returning to her nest hidden in another section of reedbed with several long stems of reed. The male, however, kept coming back with a single tiny strand of reed, a mere twig in comparison. At least he was bringing back food for her. I watch him bring back a rodent of some description and drop it to her, which she catches successfully in mid-air.

Male Marsh Harrier
Female Marsh Harrier
Greylag x Canada Goose hybrids
From Reception Hide, a kingfisher made two quick flights across the broad (I also saw it at Fen Hide this morning), a little grebe was playing hard to get as it kept hiding behind the reedy islands and the far reedbeds around the far right channel. I also saw a Chinese water deer, a sparrowhawk, reed buntings, pochards, tufted ducks and two hybrid greylag x Canada geese (which look like clowns to me with their white face patches and orange bills). I made a couple of quick walks to the meadow trail gates during my shift, encountering a stoat dashing across my path in front of me on the first walk. Our highland cattle were busy managing the meadow trail for us before we open it up to the visitors in the summer. These cattle were attracting a lot of flying insects, which attracted plenty of swallows and thrushes that preyed on them.

Canada Goose
Canada Geese with Greylag
Mute Swan
Coot with chicks
Chinese Water Deer
Highland Cattle
Marsh Tit
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Coltsfoot in seed
Grey Heron
Willow Warbler
Bumblebee on Dandelion
Pipistrelle Bat
We had a school visiting Strumpshaw today and they were split into two groups. One went pond dipping at the old pond, while the other went into the meadow trail (away from the cattle) to discover the plants and insects. I had finished my shift at this point and I went for another walk. I was just walking by as the group of children, teachers and RSPB staff and volunteers were entering the meadow trail gate, when I suddenly noticed something whizzing over them and over the new pond. It was a bat! I tried to get a photo of it, but it was just too fast for me. I think it was a pipistrelle as it was small, but why was it flying in broad daylight? Maybe it was hungry and wanted a snack before going back to bed? Or perhaps it was confused or disturbed? I really don't know, though I am rather concerned about it. It made a few laps around the pond before it disappeared. I hope that meant my first theory was correct. Still exciting to see though!


  1. Fantastic reading and going through this blog. I stumbled through to this when I was seeing my blog score on FatBirder. Great one and keep up the good show.

    1. Thank you very much! I hope you will enjoy my latest adventures as much as I do.