Monday, 24 February 2014

The Return of the Mouse, the Blue Tits and Strumpshaw Fen

Nature Diary Pages for Strumpshaw
I always find new things when I visit Strumpshaw Fen, and yesterday was no exception. We saw lots of exciting things, including a few firsts for me (thank you people of iSpot for helping me identify them), but not the Chinese water deer we were hunting for, although we did find some possible evidence of them. On arrival, at the reception area, it's always worth a look to the water, and this time we were rewarded with a few shovelers and a number of gadwalls, both of which I have never seen before.
Male Shoveler

Female Shoveler
Gadwall (the one with its head up!)

We took a walk along the 'woodland path', a route I haven't taken since I was an undergraduate ecologist, and found some interesting organisms, including a Scarlet Elf Cup fungus, plenty of snow drops, and some flowering cherry plum blossom.

Scarlet Elf Cup
Snowdrops

Cherry Plum Blossom

Long Tailed Tit

On reaching the path next to the river, we found some elusive deer footprints, and lots of low flying geese and ducks, a few of which obliged by forming amusing aerial positions for photographs.

Chinese water deer??



When we eventually reached the 'Fen Hide', we spotted a couple of circling marsh harriers; I always find them slightly hypnotic and addictive to watch. There's always tension and excitement when one disappears below the tree line, then majestically ascends again. There were also some teal on the water who were eventually joined by a black swan.


The light started to fade, so we began a meander back to the car, hopefully gazing across the grass for a glimpse of the Chinese water deer, but not today. We listened to the birds evening chorus, picking out the various tits and finches, and a couple of song thrushes even made an appearance. We had almost reached the car park when the sky erupted in noise, seemingly coming from all directions, and all of a sudden was blackened by the silhouettes of calling geese, hundreds of them, perhaps even thousands. A perfect end to the trip.

Song thrush

Huge flock of geese
To be honest, it's been a very exciting few days all around! Not only was Strumpshaw Fen amazing as always, our little wood mouse has made another appearance (he wasn't a snack for the owls, hurrah!). On going back to work today, there were little footprints in the bird box, then the little yellow and blue culprit appeared and started pecking away at the entrance hole to attract his mate, then later fluttered his wings inside the box too. All of which caused much amusement for my year 10 class. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for nesting blue tits!




2 comments:

  1. Great blog, Sarah. We are really enjoying it. The Southsea Team.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! :) Glad you're enjoying it!

      Delete