Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Dec 21st Strumpshaw Fen

Carrion Crow
Time is running out to find and photograph a weasel for my Strumpshaw 40 challenge. Unfortunately, I did not have time today to look for one. I only had enough time for a short walk through the woods and along part of Sandy Wall, which wasn't very eventful as I only saw crows and pheasants. It was one of those quiet, glum days that feel like nothing would happen at all.

Though the morning started slow and the minutes ticked by while sitting inside Reception Hide with just the usual view of ducks feeding, floating or sleeping on or around the broad, it soon got interesting. After scanning carefully in the reed stubble in front of the hide, my colleague and I were spotting snipe after snipe hiding extremely well amongst the surrounding vegetation. About 3-4 marsh harriers were soaring around the reserve and large skeins of pink-footed geese were constantly flying by much higher above them. My colleague confirmed to me that he also saw a kingfisher and a bittern briefly, both of which that I missed out for some reason.

Gadwalls, Coots, Mallard and Shovelers
Mute Swan

Common Snipe
Marsh Harrier
Pink-footed Geese
Not to be out done by my colleague, I was able to locate the best highlight of the day first. A large dog otter made two appearances this morning and I was the one who spotted him first on both occasions. He was busy hunting, ducking and diving constantly underwater. He had sneaked onto the scene unnoticed until I eventually saw him beside the reedy islands near the centre of the broad, appearing like some kind of Loch Ness monster. Where did he come from? He gradually swam closer and closer, moving within the thin border of reed bed that circled along much of the edge of the area that was strimmed down the other week. Then, he crawled out onto the land at the same place as last week, but this time without a heron to cause any bother. We momentarily lost him as he slinked away back into the reeds. It was several minutes later when I saw it again back at the centre of the broad. After about an hour after it disappeared down the far left channel, it returned for one more short visit.

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