Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Aug 9th Strumpshaw Fen

Water Vole
Guess what? Its raining again! This summer has been quite a wash out lately. But despite the rain, I still had a surprisingly good day, especially when it comes to mammals. Before beginning my shift at the Reception Hide, I made good use of a brief break in the weather to walk up to the pond by the entrance of the meadow trail. And just look what was waiting me there. Not one, but two water voles! One was more obliging than the other and posed for me in a more open spot in the vegetation in the middle of the pond. It even swam over to nibble on a large, green reed stem a couple of times.

Raindrop on a reed leaf
Woodpigeon
Blue Tit
Chaffinch
Back at Reception Hide, the recently strimmed area in front of the hide was proving to be a hot spot for mammals. First up, making at least three appearances, was a stoat dashing between sections of long grass. In its second appearance, it was joined by a second stoat. They dashed around, as if playing with their surroundings and with each other, popping up here, there and everywhere. As you expect, they were just too quick for me and the vegetation obscuring them didn't help either. I failed to get a single shot of them in the end.

Chinese Water Deer with fawn
Another mammal to show up in this open area in front of the hide was a Chinese water deer with a fawn. The fawn stayed close to its mother, looking like as cute as a small, cuddly teddy bear but with vampire-like fangs. They stayed for quite some time, cautiously sniffing the air and listening in to any potential danger, before eventually disappearing back into the safety of the reed bed.

Woodpigeon
Mallard
Of course, with so much rain around, it was good weather for ducks. It is also, as it turns out, to be tolerable conditions for marsh harriers, sparrowhawks, kingfishers and common terns as well. Not sure why, as there is no way a tern or a kingfisher could fish when the broad's surface is riddled with ripples from the pouring rain. In the case of the birds of prey, rain is not ideal for them either. Wet feathers can make hunting much harder to do successfully. But despite of what I've just pointed out, they were still making the effort to find food, especially the terns who were more successful than the other species. Let's hope the rain stops soon so that they can hunt properly and catch something in order for them to survive another day. 
Coot
Shoveler
Cormorant
Common Tern
Sparrowhawk with Woodpigeon
Sparrowhawk
Marsh Harrier

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