Wednesday, 18 May 2016

May 18th Strumpshaw Fen

Marsh Harrier
It has been one of those days when the wildlife infuriates you. Before I started my shift, I spent a good hour and a half inside Fen Hide. Some of my targets on my Strumpshaw 40 list, both past and current, were showing themselves but I was too slow to react with my camera. Bearded tits kept posing well on the reeds in perfect view, I grab my camera and point it towards it... gone!! Then in the corner of my eye, I spot an otter moving down a channel... gone again!! Then a kingfisher darts past and that too was gone. A cuckoo was calling loudly behind the hide, I walked back down the path and found it in a tree, but it saw me and flew away. I returned to the hide only to hear it again in the same area. 'Cuck-oo! Cuck-oo!' That sound was sounding more like a cussing insult towards me as he continued. '**** you! **** you!' And to add salt to the wound, I then saw a male marsh harriers passing a dead weasel to the female. The one creature that I am trying really hard to find had become someone else's breakfast!

Common Twayblade 
Willow Warbler
Black Slug
Mute Swans with cygnet
Longhorn Beetle
While the wildlife at Fen Hide was giving me the run around, the wildlife at Reception Hide was a little more well behaved, though still challenging at times. A bittern made a brief appearance, flying leftwards in the distance before landing into a reed bed in the area behind the group of dead trees on my left. A kingfisher made a brief hover in front of the hide. A hobby perched for a while on one of the bare trees in the row of other trees at the back of the broad, providing me with the opportunity to get some better photos of it despite it being distant still. I also rescued this longhorn beetle that found itself inside the hide. I gently removed it from the wall it was crawling on and placed it in the flowerbed outside.

Coot with chicks
Common Tern

There was an amazing aerial display of swifts and hirundines (swallows and martins) flying across and above the broad. The reserve was swarmed by them. I was amazed how anything else could fly around without crashing into one of these fast-flying birds. They were too quick for me to photograph, so I decided to film them instead for you all. There were swifts (larger black birds with scythed wings), swallows (blue above, white below with a red throat and forked tail) and house martins (small black and white bird with a white rump that stands out well), all making the most of the abundance of flying insects that they feed on after arriving back from Africa for the summer months. They are simply mesmerizing to watch.

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