Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Feb 8th Strumpshaw Fen

A cold, quiet morning at Strumpshaw. While walking around the woods, it felt like someone had turned the volume down as the sound of bird song felt melancholic and near silent. The light was dim and made everything appear in near monochrome with shades of blacks, whites and greys dulling the other colours of nature surrounding me. A light, cold breath of wind brushes over my body, chilling the bare patches of skin of my face and hands slightly. The sky has no colour and the woods felt almost empty of life save for the few lonely sounding birds hiding somewhere in the canopy.


Closer to the ground, the splashes of white and green of now fully developed snowdrops and scarlet elfcap fungi as vivid as drops of blood poke through the browns of the leaf litter. Colours of joy in this sad landscape.

Scarlet Elfcap
Reception Hide brought reunion as my regular colleague returns with a smiling face after returning from her month long trip to New Zealand. However, the few hours of our shift in the hide felt a bit of a drag. It felt somehow uneventful, yet eventful at the same time as for most of the time we were staring at nothing but ducks. During these less exciting of minutes, the best I could think of to kill time was to count them. Just over 60 or more were gadwall and about 12 or more each of shovelers, teal and mallards. A heron made a couple of appearances, hopping from one spot to the other around the broad, undecided of which spot was the best to fish from. None of them as it turned out and it flew off to try somewhere else. 

Male Teal
Female Teal
Grey Heron
As I said, it felt uneventful for most of my shift, but there were brief moments when something actually showed up. A water rail made a couple of flights between the near reed bed to my right and the reedy islands in the centre of the broad, but blink and you missed it. The same can be said about the bittern that flew out from round the back of the same reed bed and towards the horizon. I was only quick enough to get a distant, blurry shot of it before it disappeared completely from view. I also managed to see a couple of marsh harriers, a very distant kestrel and this Chinese water deer very briefly before it too vanished from view behind some reeds. So despite it being dull and threatening to rain, I did see some great things other than just ducks in the end. Shame they didn't stick around so I could get some better shots of them.
Marsh Harrier

Chinese Water Deer

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