Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Aug 29th Strumpshaw Fen

Rain has been relentless for most of this morning. It was not been a nice day.  It was raining as I walked down to the reserve from my train, it rained while I was making my way to Fen Hide, but when I was in the hide, it stopped. It remained like that for an hour. Apart from a snipe that flew in and played peek-a-boo along the near edge of short cut reed with my camera and a family of marsh harriers begging for food noisily, there wasn't too much to get excited about. I walked out of the hide and guess what? It started raining again!! This time it remained that way until midday.

Cobber the Black Swan
Marsh Harrier

Stock Dove
Grey Heron
Stuck inside Reception Hide as the rain continued to pour, for much of what remained of the morning, nobody came. You would have thought the continuous downpour would ground most of the birds that aren't ducks, not true. It turns out that the swallows and house martins were swarming over the broad even with the heavy showers. In fact, when the rain died down, they all disappeared. A kingfisher was also preferring this damp weather more for some reason as it made several visits, mainly hiding within the dense vegetation of the reedy islands, but it did make one appearance close enough to the hide to photograph, even if it was playing the same game as the snipe by being obscured by some reeds.
Chiffchaff (skulking amongst the reedy islands)
Gathering plant samples from the water
While the rain kept most people away from the reserve during the first hour or two of my shift, we did have one person pop into the hide. He wasn't here for a walk, however. He was an ecologist and was here to make a few samples of the plants growing by the edge of the broad. He wanted to know about the water quality and its effects on the plants that grew there. Using a grapple attached to string, he threw it into the water to extract some of the aquatic plants. After dragging them out from the water, he sifted through the mud growing at their roots. He came back some time later after doing the same at other parts of the reserve. It doesn't sound good. According to him, it seems that there is a lot of sewage pollution in the water. I'm no scientist, but that sounds bad. Here, what we thought was a pristine haven for wildlife, was actually full of sewage!

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