Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Feb 22nd Strumpshaw Fen

Kingfisher
This morning was a rather wet one. I was walking around the woods when it suddenly lashed down a downpour. I was slightly soaked in minutes as I made my retreat to the Reception Hide. I soon dried up under the hide's heater as I watched the wildfowl on the broad. A kingfisher made a brief visit in front of the hide and an otter showed up, but was a bit stealthy for me and my camera. It appeared along the reed bed edge at the near left channel of the broad, then I lost track of it as I reached for my camera. By the time I located the otter again, it was heading down the far left channel and disappeared.

Gadwall
Greylags
Coot
Pointing out wildlife on a guided walk
Today, I was asked to help out with a guided walk. It appears I was the popular choice as wildlife expert for this walk, so of course I helped out. The rain eased off to begin with as we made our way into the woods and as a precaution, I kept my camera hidden to keep it dry and so I didn't use it much during our walk. I showed them the snowdrops and the fungi that I knew as well as pointing out the bird sounds we could hear. There weren't as many species calling as I had expected, but the group enjoyed hearing birds such as song thrushes, dunnocks, robins and long-tailed tits.
Snowdrops
Blackthorn blossom
Hazel catkins
Stonechat
But then, as we left the woods and were walking along the river, the rain drizzled heavily for a few minutes before easing off to a near halt. We were a bit wet, but at least we had some great wildlife to look at. The meadows adjacent to the pump house provided us with views of stonechats, a brown hare bounding to cover, two Chinese water deer, two grey herons, a meadow pipit flying past and two mute swans. I was more pleased in seeing the hare, but everyone else seemed to be more at awe with the stonechats.



Snipe
At Fen Hide, I showed them a couple of marsh harriers, another Chinese water deer, a water rail and a snipe. They were very impressed with my spotting skills with the snipe as it was well hidden in an area of reed stubble. No one even knew it was there, even a pair of my regulars who were in the hide before we invaded did not see it before I pointed it out. The snipe was no surprise to me, though, as there's usually one hiding in the stubble, it is just a case of knowing what your looking for. The thing about snipe is that their movements while feeding always gives them away.

Pochard
We returned back at Reception Hide to end the walk. While some members of the group disbanded, others stayed on with me in the hide, hoping that a kingfisher would arrive. Sadly, the kingfishers did not show up for them in the end, but they weren't disappointed. They praised me for giving them a great experience and for teaching them all I know about the wildlife we saw. The weather may have been rubbish, but at least it has been a great outing at Strumpshaw for them.
Marsh Harrier

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