Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Sep 28th Strumpshaw Fen

I arrived early this morning at Strumpshaw to sit at the same bench as last week for a second attempt at weasel watching. I sat there waiting for an hour watching 'Weasel Lane' (as I've decided to call it from now on), but it was the same story as last week. This weasel hotspot has not produced anything yet. Fortunately, Weasel Lane is not the only hotspot to see weasels here. They have been seen anywhere between Reception Hide and Weasel Lane. So maybe I should try somewhere else next week. There is also no sign of the two fungi species that I need to complete my Strumpshaw 40 challenge.

Blue Tit

Red Admiral
Another Hoverfly
Common Darter

Bearded Tits
At Reception Hide, my morning got quite interesting. First, I saw a flock of bearded tits pop up from the reed bed close to my left, sitting on the reed heads for a quick nibble before flying to the reed bed close to my right and vanishing within it. I managed to get a few dodgy photos of them just in time before they moved on. Then a bittern emerged from behind the same reed bed to my left, flying across the broad until diving into another reed bed on the other side of the right hand channel. I had good views of it, but its emergence caught me by surprise and I was not quick enough to reach for my camera. Then my luck continued as I had brief views of 2 green woodpeckers and a hobby, not to mention marsh harriers, swallows and house martins.

Marsh Harrier
Mute Swan
Grey Heron
Little Egret
As my shift neared its end, I had reports of two special birds for me to write up on the sightings board. First up was the return of the glossy ibis at Tower Hide. It had been absent at Strumpshaw for about two weeks with one brief flyby sighting over the weekend. Now it seems to be back feeding in front of the Tower Hide once more as if it had never left. The other special bird reported was more interesting to me. A yellow-browed warbler had been seen in the woods near the office area with a mixed flock of long-tailed tits and other woodland birds and I have never seen one before. So I decided to go look for it with one of my regular visitors.

Long-tailed Tit
A yellow-browed warbler is a tiny bird about the size of a goldcrest (which is Britain's smallest bird) and is olive green in colour with a striking yellow stripe above the eye. This is a bird that breeds as far as Siberia and in recent years, sightings of these birds in the UK have been increasing each autumn to a point that it has led us to believe that this species migrate west instead of south for winter. They often join flocks smaller birds such as the long-tailed tit. For me to find this warbler, I needed to find the flock of long-tailed tits first, which turned out to be surprisingly easy due to their consistent calls they were making. The pair of us now had to locate the warbler amongst the large fast moving flock in the dense canopy of leaves. There were so many birds moving around us that it was hard not to be mesmerised by them all. To add to the confusion, there were other species in this mega flock from blue tits, great tits, coal tits, marsh tits, goldcrests and treecreepers. In the end, we couldn't find the warbler, but I expect it was there with them somewhere. But seeing all those birds together in one spot was still quite an amazing experience.

I gave up with my search for the yellow-browed warbler as I had to make my way to Brundall to catch my train home. So I returned to Reception Hide to collect my bag, but as I was about to enter the door to the hide, there was one last surprise outside the hide for me to see. It was a kingfisher! It was a great way to end a great day at Strumpshaw, even if I did not see a weasel or a yellow-browed warbler.

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