Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Oct 26th Strumpshaw Fen

Foggy scenes at Strumpshaw this morning!
It was a murky return to Strumpshaw this morning. It was very foggy as I arrived. Visibility was poor and it was difficult to take photos in the thick fog. For weasel watching, it didn't matter too much as they were a no show yet again anyway, no surprise there. The only things showing along Weasel Lane was a squirrel and some small birds like robins and dunnocks. I actually gave up my weasel search after just over half an hour and decided to go to Fen Hide for a while instead. On the way, I unwittingly spooked some fieldfares from the bordering trees, making rattly alarm calls as they flew away from me.

Grey Squirrel in the fog
Dunnock
Robin
Ready for Halloween at Strumpshaw Fen

Common Snipe
Jack snipe had apparently been seen at Fen Hide (and Reception Hide) nearly everyday during my absence. But today, despite scanning hard for them, I could only spot common snipe, lots of them hidden in the spit of stubble in front of the channel on the right hand side of the pool. As much as I wanted to, I just could not convert any of them into Jack snipes, which are smaller with shorter bills. There was also a kingfisher, herons and cormorants just visible in the thick fog in front of the hide, too.
Grey Heron
Cormorant
Candlesnuff Fungus (39)
I had just enough time for a quick fungi search in the woods before my shift began. It turned out to be successful as not only did I find some more shaggy inkcaps, but also the other fungi target on my Strumpshaw 40 list that I needed as well. Candlesnuff are tiny black and white things that grow on dead wood. I found these growing on part of a log. They aren't much to look at, but if you use your imagination a little bit, then I guess it does resemble black candlesticks with white candles on them. In my mind, they are more like extremely tiny sculptures that you have to crouch down to appreciate them.

Sulphertuft
Shaggy Inkcap




Not sure
Not sure either, but was big

Now that I have finally ticked the candlesnuff fungus off my list, I now only have one species left to find. From now until the end of the year, it is me versus the weasel! Will I get to see and photograph one before January 1st or will the weasel elude me? There's still two months left, so there's still time. Technically though, I have seen one back in January before I started this challenge, so I am considering ticking it off as a sighting. I wasn't sure at the time, but now I am 100% certain it was definitely a weasel. But I am not happy until I have a photo to go with it. The search goes on!

Shoveler
Back at Reception Hide, the fog was gradually clearing, though it still looked rather murky right up until my shift ended. It was also rather busy, both with families visiting (as it is half term this week and we have a seasonal trail open full of activities for children to do) and with birds, too. Outside the hide, there were plenty of ducks on the broad, mainly gadwalls, mallards, teal and a few wigeon. Kingfishers were perhaps the stars of today as they showed up several times on the perches in front of the hide, providing many happy visitors with great views. There was also a water rail sneaking about at the edge of the reed bed to my right, but it was camera shy as it rushed to cover every time I reached for my camera. Adding a bit of drama to spice up the bird scene in front of me were the marsh harriers. About three of these birds were in the air together and kept chasing the ducks from one end of the broad to the other, causing many to leap up into the air at once.


Mallard
White Mallard
Teal
Wigeon
Mute Swan


Kingfisher



Marsh Harrier
Grey Heron
Jackdaws

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