Thursday, 6 July 2017

July 5th Strumpshaw Fen (at night!)

Dusk at Strumpshaw

I have returned to Strumpshaw several hours since my morning shift. The sun is setting and I have asked Dad to come along to look for glow-worms with me. On the way to the reserve, I made him stop by a small wooded spot by the roadside where I know a pair of little owls usually occur. In the bright orange rays of evening sunshine, we were able to spot one despite leaving my binoculars at home by mistake. It was much harder to even locate it with just my bridge camera and so I was unable to get a photo of it.
Sunset over the River Yare

It was still too early and too light for the glow-worms to emerge. So while we waited for darkness to set in, we went for a walk along the river to the pump house and back. The reflection of the sunset on the river was wonderful with a streak of sunlight stretching a good length of it towards us. The moon was rising in the sun's place and was bright enough to cast shadows on the ground. The sky took many hours to get completely dark and the swarms of swallows and the odd marsh harriers and heron that flew above us were like clear silhouettes. At ground level, it was still light enough to spot a partridge run from us and towards a Chinese water deer that was walking across the Sandy Wall. As it grew darker, the sounds of things moving and chewing in the reed beds became more apparent, the sounds of possible water voles.

Marsh Harrier
Chinese Water Deer and Red-legged Partridge
Grey Heron

Barn Owl
As dusk edged nearer and nearer towards nightfall, the ghostly shape of a barn owl appeared flying over the meadow trail. It made a few flights between the woods and the river, busy hunting for rodents in the long grass of the meadows. The fading light made it hard for my camera to focus with great detail, but these were the best shots I could manage. Not the best quality, but you can clearly see that its a barn owl.

It was finally dark enough to look for the bright, glowing green lights of glow-worms. It took a lot of scanning the vegetation bordering the Sandy Wall, but thankfully we were lucky enough to spot two of these bright lights. Only the flightless females produce this light using bioluminescence to attract a male, which can fly, to mate with her. The second of these females that we found tonight, just happened to be coupled with one of these flying males. As you can see, he is much smaller than she is. This is the first time I have ever seen a male glow-worm, while Dad has never even seen a glow-worm before. He was in awe in how bright these insect's lights can be. The fact that we were seeing these beetles at Strumpshaw made it more rewarding. It was like having a close friend reveal a secret to you after years of knowing them. I have seen Strumpshaw's secret nocturnal world, a world that few people have ever witnessed.
The light of the glow-worm

Mating Glow-worms

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