Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Feb 1st Strumpshaw Fen

Carrion Crow in the fog
Another foggy day at Strumpshaw, but at least it wasn't as thick as last week. It was still not the greatest of days to walk around in though. However, I did have a short walk around the woodland trail, seeing bullfinches and siskins as well as the first snowdrops I've seen this year. The bullfinches were calling quite a lot today and I could hear them more than I could actually see them. "Pew! Pew! Pew!" A simple, soft sounding note, but it adds to their shy nature. Its no wonder that I wasn't able to photograph them as they flew away as soon as I pointed the camera at them.

Snowdrops

Sparring Pheasants
I spent the majority the morning inside the Reception Hide, staring at the ducks in the murky conditions. A pair of male pheasants were busy sizing each other up close to the hide for a lengthy amount of time, creating some entertainment for those watching. Like a pair of sparring boxers, they were face to face, tails fanned or raised, probing with a jab of their bills into one another, testing for a weakness. One hops up into the air to avoid the other's peck. Their movements were slow and calculating, but the action was often obscured by a small section of long dried grass, which made it hard to see what was happening. Away from the battling pheasants, there was also a snipe feeding in the mud of the open strimmed area nearby. It too was often hard to spot and I kept losing it whenever I looked back for it to show someone.

Coot
Mallard
Gadwall
Coot
Shoveler
Mute Swan
Greylag
Canada Goose
The Odd Couple (these two seem to like following one another around a lot!)
Cobber the Black Swan
The Mute Swans don't like Cobber much (he irritates them most of the time)
Common Snipe
Sparrowhawk
By lunchtime, the fog was replaced by a sudden downpour of rain. During this weather change, my colleague and I witnessed an amazing bit of drama right in front of the hide. I was looking for the snipe that was hiding somewhere to my left, when something zoomed into my line of vision. I was quick enough to follow this speedy shape of a bird fly past the hide and plunge into the reed bed to my right, grabbing a blue tit and carrying it to a nearby stump. It was a male sparrowhawk! What we had witnessed was a successful hunt. It used the rain to break up its outline and muffle the sound of it's approach. The blue tit did not see it coming! Annoyingly though, the rain also proved a nuisance with the focus of my camera as it wouldn't focus on the bird but on the rain instead. The sparrowhawk was only there on the stump for a few seconds before it was gone and all I could get was this dodgy shot. I shall have to draw the scene later, I think.

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