Sunday, 28 September 2014

September Walks

September is a time of year that I look forward to and dread in equal parts. It is the start of the new school year and, it may surprise some people, especially our new students, to hear that we teachers worry about what the start of term will be like and our how our new classes will be too. At the same time, we look forward to the fresh start of the year ahead, with new and eager faces to enthuse with science and familiar faces with whom we continue to enthuse or attempt to re-enthuse. It also marks the start of summer turning into autumn, with the calendar year beginning to draw to a close, with changing colours in the trees above and new wildlife sightings to be had, with birds reappearing after eclipse and winter migrants starting to make themselves known.

I have visited two well trodden parts of my local patch this month, the UEA broad and Strumpshaw Fen.

2nd September 2014 - UEA Broads

The day before the start of term, I decided to don my walking shoes and clear my head by heading to the UEA to walk around the broad and through the woodland. There were lots of people running and using the space, so there wasn't a huge amount of wildlife in plain sight, but the 'lake' still looked beautiful in the fading light. Walking along the boardwalk, I was lucky to glimpse a kingfisher perched on an overhanging branch, and as bad as this photo is, in my family proof of a kingfisher sighting is always required! The UEA rabbits were also out in force and robins were starting to sing by the field next to the horses. 

As I got closer to the end of the walk, I could hear countless small birds in one of the trees, but could not see any of them! I could pick out blue tits, great tits and perhaps long tailed tits too, but I could only guess at some of the others. I think there must have been an abundance of insects in this particular tree to have so many small birds of different species flocking to it.

27th September - Strumpshaw Fen

I've said it many times before, but I love going to Strumpshaw Fen. Whenever I visit, I am rewarded with a peaceful walk and some great photo opportunities. This time, it was with dragonflies, mostly Common darters. There were more of them than I could count, as well as some larger species that I could not see clearly enough to identify, but would hazard a guess at Southern hawkers and Emperor dragonflies. It has been unseasonably warm and dry for September, which may explain their abundance. It wasn't only members of the order of Odonata that we spotted this time, but also many avian species too. There were shovelers, gadwall and other ducks at the reception hide, and we spotted marsh harriers, herons, lapwings, greylag geese and a huge mute swan at the Fen hide and walking around the reserve. We spotted a volery of my favourite small bird, long tailed tits, when we were nearing the end of our walk. This gang must have been at least 20 - 30 strong and we stood and listened to their contact calls for a few minutes before moving on. 

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