Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Aug 15th Strumpshaw Fen

A friendly pigeon
After nearly a week of rain, everything seems a lot fresher than it has been. The grass is much greener and the great outdoors has never felt so alive. It is amazing to think that just a week before everything seemed pretty dead and dried to shades of brown. I sat at the bench by the blind beside the Reception Hide to rest from the walk from the train station at Brundall and to retrieve my binoculars and camera from within my backpack. As I was finding these items, the sound of wings flapping towards me startled me. I looked up and there was this white pigeon with grey patches perched right next to me. It appeared very used to people, but would back away whenever I tried to near my hand towards it. Did it belong to someone? I couldn't see any leg rings or anything.
Transfixed on the pigeon, it wasn't only until a large orange-brown shape moving across the back of the broad in the corner of my eye broke my focus. This fast moving shape turned into a bittern, flying from left to right low behind the reedy islands and vanishing down the right channel. Was this pigeon a lucky omen? I began my walk towards the Fen Hide. I was only a few metres away from the Reception Hide when the familiar sound of flapping wings caught my attention from behind me. I looked back and there was the pigeon again! It landed on top of a picnic bench adjacent to me. A few metres more and it happened again. Was this pigeon following me?

Great White Egret
I made it to Fen Hide without any further sign of stalking pigeons. However, it felt like this bird's luck powers after seeing that bittern has remained with me as there were two great white egrets waiting outside for me. They didn't hang around for long, though, as they both took off towards the river. Shortly after, I had completed the set in the heron species I'm likely to see at Strumpshaw today with the arrival of a little egret and then a grey heron. If that wasn't enough, I then noticed a fox prowling the short stands of green reed growth at the closest edge of the pool. It may sound odd, but during that brief moment I had managed to take my first ever photograph of a red fox! It may not be the greatest shot in the world, but I didn't care. Foxes have always been camera shy when I'm around, so I am over the moon to finally have gotten a photo of one. I waited for some time to see if it came back. It did, popping its head out of the side of a small yet tallish clump of reeds for an either briefer glimpse. No surprising then that there was no photo this time round.
Little Egret
Red Fox
Cobber the Black Swan
Common Lizard
My colleagues with Bertie the Pigeon
I returned back to Reception Hide and the pigeon was there again! I made a quick stopover at the office before starting my shift and I told site manager Tim about it. He filled me in with the pigeon's backstory. Apparently, this bird is called Bertie and was hand-reared by someone who for some reason decided to release it on the reserve along the river trail on Monday. As this bird has imprinted human beings as its kind, it followed visitors back and eventually made it to the Reception Hide, where it now prefers to hang around. Bertie is so used to people that he has been known to perch on them. As my colleague opened the hide up to the public this morning, he foolishly left the door open. As a result, Bertie came in and landed on a visitor's head, who happens to be my colleague's wife, who also happens to be afraid of birds when in close proximities of them. It took some strategy, but I eventually managed to grab the bird before panic levels risen to anything more than it was and I took Bertie outside, shutting the door behind me. It remained out there, providing some amusement amongst the families visiting the reserve.

With the drama inside the hide over, I was able to enjoy myself by watching the birds outside and answering questions about wildlife that was fired at me a lot today. A kingfisher delighted my colleague's wife and grandson for a good few minutes, hovering in mid-air and darting across the reedy islands, occasionally perching down on the posts at the centre of these isles. Two green sandpipers also made a short stop at these islands of reed for them to see. After my shift was over, my colleague and his family kindly gave me a lift to Brundall in time for the train home. Along the way, we had some great views of a buzzard feeding on the ground with a red kite swooping gracefully above it. Maybe Bertie was lucky after all?
Green Sandpipers
Cobber chasing a Mute Swan

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