Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Nov 23rd Strumpshaw Fen

A cold, misty morning at Strumpshaw Fen
Today was a much calmer a day compared to yesterday. The strong winds have since settled down and though the sun is shining, it is really cold out on the reserve. The landscape when I arrived this morning was covered in mist and there wasn't a breath of wind in the air. It finally feels like winter is here. As it is getting too cold to sit on a bench to weasel watch, I had to leave after half an hour to warm myself up with a walk to Fen Hide. A female sparrowhawk was the main highlight here, perching on a dead tree before flying past the side of the hide, oblivious to the snipe hiding within the usual spit of strimmed grass.

Sparrowhawk
Common Snipe
Great Spotted Woodpecker
The walk to and from Fen Hide was just as eventful as visiting the hide itself. Some of the trees were full of birds that hung like feathery baubles on the tips of branches as a mixed flock of long-tailed, blue and great tits with a treecreeper following them were checking every nook and cranny for anything hiding from them to eat. I even saw a great spotted woodpecker pecking at the bark of a taller tree. If your a bug, there is nowhere to hide!

Long-tailed Tit
Blue Tit
Male Blackbird
Female Blackbird
Dunnock
Robin
Kingfisher
At Reception Hide, the light over the broad was perfect and as the water was still with barely a ripple, the smooth surface reflected like a mirror. Reflections of the wildfowl and any bird flying over was beautiful to look at. Three marsh harriers soared over the tops of frosty looking reed tufts, annoying the local crows that chased after them. A kingfisher made two brief visits to its usual perching posts in front of the hide. Its bright colours shining perfectly in the brilliant light.

Mallards
Two drake Mallards fighting!
Coot
Cobber the Black Swan
Mute Swan
Pink-footed Geese
Cormorant
Marsh Harrier
A diving Otter's back!
There was a moment of delight this morning that made everyone outside the hide rush inside as fast as they could. I was scanning the broad when I suddenly spot movement down the far right channel. The flat still surface of the water was being disturbed by a wake caused by something swimming in it. An otter!! As soon as I saw it, I went outside to let people know it was there. The hide went from near empty to being almost packed with people in an instant. Annoyingly though, the otter kept vanishing constantly either by disappearing underwater or going behind cover. It was difficult to track its movements and find it with my camera at the same time, I could only manage this dodgy shot of its back. It had dived at the same moment as I had pressed the button to take the shot. Typical! And to add to the annoyance, that same moment was the last we saw of it. It had gone!

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