Sunday, 15 May 2016

May 14th Strumpshaw Fen

View from outside Reception Hide at 6:30pm
To see a barn owl at Strumpshaw, you have two times of the day when they are at their most active. I have the choice of looking for them a couple of hours after dawn or a couple of hours before dusk. I decided to go to Strumpshaw at dusk tonight with Dad in the hope of finding one for my Strumpshaw 40 challenge. We arrived just around 6:30pm while it was still light. Swallows were darting over the broad in front of Reception Hide with the low evening sun casting a bright light over the surface. While walking down towards the Sandy Wall path, a jay hopped across the path in front of us and posed for a couple of photos before vanishing into the woods.


Barn Owl (25)
I knew my best chance of finding a barn owl was to watch over one of the three owl boxes set up along the edges of the meadow fields. The one that you can see from the gate of the meadow trail entrance is usually the best one with a pair using it most years. Walking a short distance down Sandy Wall, we began a stake out with the box. From the entrance hole, I could see an owl's sleepy face poking out! We had hit the jackpot! A man with a scope joined us in our little stake out and with his help, we discovered that there were two owls inside this box. They were possibly a breeding pair, but as we were quite a distance away, we weren't disturbing them.

The three of us made a prediction of when the first owl would emerge for the night. I predicted that they will emerge by 8pm. Around 7:45pm, one of the owls stirred and sat on the rim of the entrance hole for a couple of minutes before deciding to head back inside for a few more z's. At 7:55pm, with 5 minutes to spare, it finally came outside to sit on a tree nearby to the box. It had a quick preening session before it flew into the woods to hunt. The other owl remained inside the box, which meant it was either lazy or it was sitting on eggs.

Sunset at Strumpshaw Fen
 After having success with the owls, we went for a walk along the river to the pump house and back. The sun was now setting over the reeds and the river. It was like a large bright orb shrinking and sinking into the landscape. As it sank lower in the sky, it turned amber and long stream of reflected light stretched along the surface of the river towards our backs. Cuckoos were calling and we heard the boom of a bittern, but the bird sounds were not as intense as they were during our dawn chorus that we experienced a couple of weeks ago. On the dimly lit fields that made up the meadow trail, two Chinese water deer and a few hares made a dash for it as soon as we saw them, running as fast as they could towards the opposite end of the fields. Marsh harriers were also soaring over these fields. A great way to end to what has been a successful night.

The Moon
Brown Hares
View from Reception Hide at about 9pm

No comments:

Post a Comment