Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Jan 18th Strumpshaw Fen

Another icy scene at Reception Hide
It was a cold, frosty morning at Strumpshaw. The floods caused by Friday's surge has been drained away and the reserve is now covered in ice rather than water. Sheets of ice cover the lakes, pools and ditches and everything from the plants to the ground sparkles with frost. The moon was still up high in the sky as I arrived. The rising sun was only just taking power over the darkness of night as a new day had dawned. Daylight began to flood the land, making it easier to see by the minute.

The Moon
Frosty scenes this morning
Frozen scene at Fen Hide
Another icy broad along the River Trail
Frost
Mallard at Fen Hide
As I walked around the reserve, examining the conditions of the paths along the way, something ran across in front of me just before the turning to Fen Hide. Then it dashed across again, heading left and then again for a third time to the right of the path, standing on the wooden border for a brief second or two. It was a stoat! At least I think it was. It was moving so fast, I only had time to do one of two things. Should I reach for my binoculars or for my camera? To get a clearer look or a photograph? Most would pick the camera, but for me, old habits get in the way and I instinctively picked up the binoculars hanging from my neck. A great view, yes, but it was now gone before I could get a photo of it! Why do I always do that? Oh well. Maybe next time.

Robin
Blue Tit
Blackbird


Scarlet Elfcap Fungi
There was a group walk organised by the reserve today and I was asked if I could give my expert eye spotting the birds. To be honest, at this point I had just arrived back from my morning walk, not to mention walking all the way to Strumpshaw from Brundall station, and I was in no mood for another long walk. So I decided to help them out through the woods and then leave them to continue their walk without me. I pointed out bird sounds including bullfinches and long-tailed tits as well as spotting a treecreeper, a Chinese water deer making a run for it and showing them some scarlet elfcap fungi. They were pretty happy with my input until the moment I left.

Female Grey Wagtail
Back at Reception Hide, I managed to spot a water rail the moment I got back to the hide. It was thanks to its noisy calls that I was able to locate it. It returned again around lunch time, but was a bit hard to photograph as it obscured itself within the reeds. This was the best I could get I'm afraid. The sheet of ice was slowly disappearing from one half of the broad and a large area of ice-free water provided a refuge for all sorts of wildfowl, though there were a few that preferred to take a slippery landing and walk to it first. Perhaps the highlight for me today was seeing a female grey wagtail arrive in front of the hide and walk around the ice for a short while. It seemed to be more of an expert than the nearby ducks and geese and would walk gracefully upon the ice with a gleeful, contagious wag of its tail. At one point, it looked down at the surface as if admiring it's colourful reflection beneath it.
Water Rail (hiding!)
Greylag making a slippery landing
Wildfowl on ice!
Mallards
Shoveler
Mute Swan
Marsh Harrier

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