Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Nov 2nd Strumpshaw Fen

A lot has changed since last week. The clocks were recently set back by an hour, the temperature has dropped to wintery conditions and the Reception Hide opening time has changed to 10am instead of 9:30am. But one thing hasn't changed. There's still no sign of a weasel! After an hour sitting on the bench in the cold, I gave up and went to Fen Hide for a bit. It was rather quiet at there too, but I did get to see a female kingfisher briefly, a few sleepy common snipe and a heron looking for breakfast in the chilly looking water.

Common Snipe
Grey Heron
Common Darter
Guilder Rose Berries
Spindle Berries

Jack Snipe
At Reception Hide, it was a rather snipe-ful day. My colleague and I were looking for things to add to today's sightings list on the board, when suddenly she saw something in an area of mud and stubbled reed close to the hide. It was a Jack snipe! It was hard to locate at first, but once I saw the characteristic, uncontrollable bouncing movements that Jack snipes do a lot, it wasn't long until I could see the bird for myself. At the same time, visitors were starting to arrive at the hide and as soon as we told them about the bird showing well outside, it was our job to find it again for them. It took a while for some of them to locate the spot the bird was hiding, but we got there in the end.

Jack Snipe
An audience was growing within the hide, most staying for some time admiring this one bird, taking many photos of it. But then, as if it was there all this time, a second Jack snipe was spotted in the same area of stubble and mud. And as if that wasn't enough, a common snipe popped up from the area of long green reed shoots right in front of us (again, like it was there the whole time without anyone noticing) and eventually made its way to join the two Jack snipe. It was handy comparison to show the differences between the two species for our visitors. Unlike the common snipe, the Jack snipe is smaller with a shorter bill, bolder stripes on the back and the fact that it also bobs up and down almost all the time as if it was on a trampoline. Jack snipes are very amusing birds to watch.
The second Jack Snipe
Common Snipe
Mute Swans
Even though it was hard to tear yourself away from the mesmerizing bouncing of these birds, I tried my best to scan for other things elsewhere outside the hide. But despite my best efforts, everyone else were too engrossed with the Jack snipes to really take any interest. I mean apart from the usual wildfowl, there wasn't many things about that would hang around for more than a brief fly-by. There was a quick flash of a kingfisher and the odd marsh harrier appearance, but it wasn't enough to distract the visitors from the bouncing wonders. At least they averted their eyes for a short moment when the kingfisher returned as I was about to head off home. Unfortunately, I had packed my camera away at this point!

Shovelers and Teal

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