Wednesday, 21 June 2017

June 21st Strumpshaw Fen

White Admiral
It was another nice, sunny day at Strumpshaw, perfect weather for butterflies. Though I did see a few swallowtails flying around the front of Reception Hide (including one that nearly flew inside!), I was unable to get any photos of them. Besides, I was more interested in seeing the second most requested butterfly on the reserve, the white admiral. During my morning walk, I spent most of it staring at bramble patches along the woodland trail, waiting for one to show up. I was in luck as one did eventually come down from the canopy to feed from the nectar-rich bramble flowers. There were many other butterflies and other insects swarming over the brambles, too, including my first ringlets and common darters of the year.

Red Admiral

Large Skipper
Meadow Brown
Common Darter
Mating Azure Damselflies
Female Azure Damselfly
Some kind of Jewel Wasp?

Common Spotted Orchid

Walking back to the Reception Hide to start my shift, I noticed something small dash passed in front of me and into the area where the common twayblades are. I stepped closer and I saw it again. It was a weasel! Though it was still rather quick and moving around a lot, I somehow managed to get a few photos of it. A bit blurry for sure, but these are my very first photos of one. If you were following my blog last year, you may remember that I was doing the Strumpshaw 40 challenge, in which I was finding and photographing the 40 species to celebrate 40 years of the reserve and that the weasel was the one that I failed in getting a photo of. So, despite the poor quality, I have finally completed the challenge over a year later!
This weasel was a lot of fun to watch as it appeared as if it was playing amongst the tall grass. Of course, it was actually on the hunt for it's next meal. I watched it bound out of sight into the grass, only to reappear again a moment later with it's head popping out of a hole right in front of me! It clearly had found a tunnel entrance of a rodent in the grass and the hole metres from my feet was the other end. It saw me and ducked back down into the hole. I pursed my lips together and made a squeaking sound, imitating a mouse and it was enough to entice the weasel back for another quick peek.


At Reception Hide, I was spotting some great things for everyone. It all started with a cuckoo sitting on one side of a V-shaped stump. It blended in so well with the stump that no one noticed it until I pointed it out. It moved around from perch to perch before finally moving on completely. Next, was the swallowtails fluttering past the hide, then a couple of kingfishers showed up, but only one stayed long enough to pose for a few photos on it's favourite new perching tree (I'm just going to call it the kingfisher tree from now on). I also had a brief glimpse of an otter, appearing from nowhere and disappeared behind the islands. Despite scaring up the ducks that were also behind these reedy islands, we could not see it reappear again. It had vanished altogether. Marsh harriers, buzzards, swallows, a little grebe, emperor dragonflies, reed warblers and jays were also seen today.

Grey Heron
Stock Doves
Tufted Duck
Little Grebe
Emperor Dragonfly

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