Monday, 13 March 2017
6. Strumpshaw Fen
A bright day with the hazy Sun peering through stratus cloud; blackthorn blossoms sweetened the air and heightened the senses, spring seems to have begun. Bees delicately visited the pink-white flowers and the song of small birds came from every tree.
We made a bee-line for tower hide, spotting greylag and Canada geese lining up along the banks of the lagoons on the way. Cetti’s warblers exploded in song, buried somewhere deep along the edges of the path. Tufted duck, pochard, mute swans and great crested grebes dabbled and drifted on the pools of water. Tower hide boasted mixed rafts of shoveler and teal, with the occasional shelduck and gadwall. A heron hunted in the distant pools. A majestic marsh harrier perched in a scrubby tree, surveying the view over the reedbed. Taking to the sky on broad, fingered wings, looking straight into the hide, or so it seemed, then skimming the roof and away.
Rather than risk the sticky mud that can frequent the trail at this time of year, we turned back and made our way towards fen hide. At first, little moved, except a dabbling coot. Then, thanks to some other visitors who pointed out the ‘ping’ call coming from the reeds, my first ever photograph of a wild bearded tit – a pair presented themselves to the onlookers from the hide, the male showing off his beautiful markings from the tip of a reed momentarily before flitting away and beckoning his mate to follow.