Wednesday, 1 June 2016

June 1st Strumpshaw Fen

Common Twayblade
It has been a miserable week so far. Tuesday morning alone had me awake with the sound of thunder and immense hammering of heavy rain with strong gale force winds pounding into the walls of my flat. I thought my bedroom wall was going to collapse onto me in my bed, it was that scary. This morning, it was a lot drier but still rather damp and gloomy. It felt more like winter than the first day of June. There was no chance of seeing butterflies or dragonflies while the weather is like this. So, I just stayed inside of Reception Hide instead of going for a walk this morning.

The twayblades are showing really well now within a small roped off patch in the woods not far from the Reception Hide. These green orchids are not the most attractive plants in the world, but taking a closer look and they have a rather charming quality about them. Using my imagination, I picture the little flowers as tiny green figures wearing a bonnet or cap on their heads. This is the second year running that I have seen twayblades flowering successfully.

Yellow Flag Iris

I was told that there was an osprey around this week. One has been reported flying around the reserve nearly every day since Friday (not that I've seen it during my two visits over the weekend) and there was a good chance it would show up today. Ospreys are summer visitors and they are making their way to their breeding sites in Scotland, Rutland and Wales. We don't have breeding ospreys in Norfolk, but I do see them from time to time at Strumpshaw as they spend a few days to fuel up before continuing north (or south during early autumn) on their journeys. This one is a bit of a late comer, but I don't mind.

Osprey (very distant)
 I scanned relentlessly for it in the gloom. Then, after having my lunch, a visitor in the hide with me called out the word I was hoping to call out myself. "Osprey!" It was a bit distant, but there was no doubt about it. It soared around the area behind the group of dead trees to my left, its underside white and its back brown. You could not mistake it for anything else. Its wingspan is far longer than a marsh harrier's and they have a habit of hovering now and then. We watched as it circled over the reserve a few times before disappearing over the woodland trail. My colleague had never seen an osprey at Strumpshaw before, so it was a real treat for her. As I've said, I have seen them here before, but never during this time of year and not since 2013.

Marsh Harrier
Also from Reception Hide; a kingfisher made a few flybys over the broad, marsh harriers were busy catching food for their partners (some of the food items were large - about rat/squirrel-size), the great crested grebes were still about with one out fishing for the other sitting on the nest by the reed islands and there were plenty of coots with chicks.

Tufted Duck
Coot with Chicks

Great Crested Grebe
Mute Swan

 Back in Norwich, I could see one of the peregrines sitting high up on the cathedral spire while I was waiting for a bus home. Then back home, I found a vapourer moth caterpillar feeding on a lime leaf in the shrubbery bed by the wall of my apartment's building facing the road.

Vapourer Moth Caterpillar

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