Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Sep 21st Strumpshaw Fen

The Weasel hotspot
Three targets remain on my Strumpshaw 40 challenge list. Two of them are fungi and the third is the most difficult, most challenging creature on the list; the weasel. There was no sign of the fungi today, so I decided to try my luck with this elusive mustelid. So far, the scan and walk approach just isn't working. I needed to change my tactics. Probably the best way that I know in seeing a weasel is to learn a spot where most of the reported sightings tend to be and to sit and wait for it to show up. One spot that I know of is the path leading to the meadow trail and the pond dipping platform for the new pond.

A ray of sunshine
The Moon
A dewy spider web
 I arrived to Strumpshaw early this morning (seeing hares and so many pheasants to count on a field on the walk up), so early that there was still dew covering the ground as well as on spider webs and everything else from vegetation to wooden fences. I sat on one of the picnic benches overlooking the weasel hotspot. The bench was a bit damp with moisture from this morning's dew, but it would have to do. I waited over an hour, but it was all for nothing. No weasels, but the wait did heighten my senses a little. It is amazing how much noise trees can make. The sound of the dew dripping onto another leaf and the sound of falling branches were almost constant. I could work out the direction of  everything moving around me by the sound of every rustle in the vegetation and footstep on the paths. Peace and quiet is surprisingly noisy! As the morning warmed up, insects were getting more active and I ended up being distracted by the butterflies and dragonflies instead.
Common Darter
Comma
Wren

Moorhen
At Reception Hide, it was relatively quiet. There were a lot of coot out on the broad along with several shovelers and gadwalls, a few cormorants, herons, moorhens and mallards as well as the odd teal. A couple of marsh harriers circled over the reserve and I also saw a high flying buzzard and a distant kestrel. Swarms of swallows and house martins were still flying low over the broad, skimming the water for a drink, though the numbers are decreasing than in previous weeks as they steadily depart on the long journey south. Kingfishers and bearded tits were about this morning, but they were less visible than usual. The kingfishers, in particular, were very annoying. As soon as I move away from the windows to write up species on the sightings board or walk out of the hide to stretch my legs for a moment, my colleague spots one and by the time I rush back to see it, it leaves! Its just not my luck today!
Cormorant
Canada Goose
Grey Heron
Coot
Marsh Harrier
Gadwall
Little Grebe
Swallows
Red-legged Partridge
Goldfinch

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