Wednesday, 22 March 2017

March 22nd Strumpshaw Fen

It was a chilly morning at Strumpshaw. Though the sun was shining brightly for most of the time, a cold breeze was in the air and cancelled out any warmth that the sunshine was providing. It was as if winter had returned all of a sudden. And to add to this wintery feeling, there was a large flock of redwings moving around the woodland trail. I estimate that there were between 30-50 of these winter thrushes, which flew over me whenever a train rushes past the reserve. It was quite an impressive sight to see to start the day.

Reed Bunting
At Fen Hide, marsh harriers were displaying together in pairs or threes. I also managed to spot one common snipe hiding in the short cover of reed stubble and I was entertained by this male reed bunting pulling off the fluffy seeds of a reed mace.

Common Snipe
Mute Swans
Marsh Harrier

Tawny Mining Bee
Despite it being rather chilly, there were some insect activity to see today. By the bench at the start of Sandy Wall, tawny mining bees are emerging from their nesting holes. These are small orange bees that only appear for a few weeks in spring to mate, dig new nesting tunnels, lay eggs, collect enough pollen to feed the young when they hatch before their short-lived lives end with the next generation doing it all over again next spring. As it was a cold morning, I only managed to spot this one individual as well as this early bumblebee trying hard to warm up in the faint heat from this morning's sunshine. Once the mining bee was warm enough, it got to work on digging a hole.
Early Bumblebee
Sweet Violets
Little Egret

Jack Snipe
It was another jack snipe day at Reception Hide. This time there were two of them as well as a single common snipe. To begin with, we had a crowd of birdwatchers and photographers joining with us inside the hide as we watched the first jack snipe, which was in the same patch of reed stubble as it has been for much of this month. Then we saw the common snipe nearby at the edge of that same stubble patch. It was a great comparison for those who needed it, right until it disappeared into a taller, denser section of reed. The first jack snipe was a bit hard to see half the time, unless it was bobbing and it was proving difficult at times to show visitors who were interested in seeing it. Then I spotted a second jack snipe that was even closer to the hide and was much easier to see and photograph. It even came out from the reeds for some clearer shots. I think everyone were more than satisfied when I spotted that second bird, which makes me kind of pleased for finding it.

Common Snipe
The second Jack Snipe

Coot on nest
Also from Reception Hide, the broad was not full of gulls like last week. In fact there were very few gulls about at all, just a few mallards, teal, gadwall, greylags and tufted ducks. No need to worry about bringing earplugs at least. A pair of coot have created a nest out of reed stems in the middle of the small channel close to the hide. The female was sitting on it, while the male was busy collecting more material for it. I also saw a chiffchaff hopping around the edge of some scrub, but was too quick to get a photo of it.

Tufted Ducks
Carrion Crows
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harriers vs Carrion Crows

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