Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Early spring at Strumpshaw Fen

Our very first visit to RSPB Strumpshaw Fen this calendar year, and an interesting visit it was too. There seemed not a single better thing to do on 'Valentine's Day' than go for a romantic walk in the mud, and very glad we were too!

On entering the reserve we immediately noticed that the snowdrops were suddenly in flower, and surrounded by the usual woodland birds around the reception hide, reveled in their sudden beauty amongst the brown leaf litter and bare trees. We chose to walk along the fen trail to get to fen hide, where it is always hit or miss - either you see nothing at all, or everything at once. On the boardwalk, a ginger flash flew out of the reeds and across the path in front of us to a chorus of alarming birds. A weasel, from its lack of a black-tipped tail, cheekily stuck its head out of the reeds on the other side of the path, then instantly disappeared, with no sound or trail to be heard or seen.

In addition to this lucky sighting, Fen hide was erring on the 'everything' side of things today, with a Chinese water deer happily munching its way through the vegetation, two sparrowhawks showing off and landing close to the hide and three marsh harriers performing acrobatics over the marsh for all to see.

Eventually leaving Fen hide and continuing on our trail before afternoon turned to dusk, we heard the distinctive drumming of a great spotted woodpecker; the first time I have heard this 'song' this year.

Around the rest of the reserve, we spotted moorhens, coots, shovelers, shelduck, greylag geese, robins, chaffinches, blue tits, great tits... and as dusk properly began to fall, we were able to watch those marvelously clever crepuscular animals flying to roost at Buckenham marshes; rooks and jackdaws in a great river across the sky, as far as the eye could see.

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