Thursday, 31 March 2016

March 31st Norwich

The Heron is back!!
Guess who's back! It has been a while since I saw this heron on the roof of my neighbour across the street from me, a year in fact. I heard a commotion outside my living room while I was on my computer around 7:30 this morning with the sound of herring gulls. I looked out of my window and I saw the heron standing there for a couple of minutes before flying away. Just like last year, I still have no idea why it is there. Maybe its a viewpoint to find somewhere to fish or maybe there is a fish pond in someone's garden behind the house? Who knows!

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

March 30th Strumpshaw Fen

I arrived at Strumpshaw as the sun was beginning to warm up the reserve after a night of heavy rain. Despite the clouds blocking it out now and then which gave the air a slight chill, it was still a warm sunny day. The birds were singing proudly including reed buntings, wrens, chiffchaffs and even a drumming great spotted woodpecker. I walked down to the sluice gates along the river, where it was muddy in places due to last night's downpour.

Reed Bunting
Long-tailed Tit
Great Crested Grebe
Mute Swan
Cetti's Warbler (17)
My mission to find the Strumpshaw 40 continues. I still have hares and owls on the brain, but today I decided to look for Cetti's warblers. You can easily tick them off the sheet just for their call alone, but I wanted more than that. I want to get a photo of each species on the Strumpshaw 40 challenge sheet and Cetti's warblers are elusive, spending most of their time in the reedbeds. Fortunately, they are much easier to see right now as they show themselves more while claiming their territories with their loud, shouty, explosive calls. "Chee! Chewee! Chewechewechewewewe!" They are reddish brown with a grey breast, a narrow pale stripe above the eye and a broad rounded tail. Just listen out for that call and you should locate them easily in a bush. I found this one around the sluices where it was showing well for a moment before vanishing again into the vegetation.

Marsh Harrier
From both Fen and Reception Hides, marsh harriers were everywhere. You just couldn't ignore them! I counted about 7-8 in the air together at one time, all swooping around close to each other. I saw skydancing males plunge up and down like a yo-yo, calling loudly while doing so to attract a mate. It seems to be working as the females joined them, flying almost wingtip to wingtip to one another with a couple of talon dangling displays added to the mix.

Coot collecting nesting material
There is some sad news about the greylag nest at Reception Hide. The greylags have abandoned their eggs shortly after I left on Saturday and they have been predated, while the nest is now almost submerged in the high water levels due to the rain this week. Meanwhile, the coots have started building yet another nest even closer to the hide. One of them (possibly the male) was fetching nesting materials to the nest from quite a distance and it was funny watching it drag a piece of reed from one end of the shore and taking it the long way around back to its partner at the nest. I also saw a Chinese water deer and a kestrel this morning.

Female at the nest

Black-headed Gulls
Chinese Water Deer
Common Lizard (18)
After lunch, I went for another walk around the reserve. As it was warm enough out in the sun, I thought it was perfect conditions for my next Strumpshaw 40 target, the common lizard, to bask in. The best place to see them is the wooden border along the Sandy Wall path. After some searching, I managed to find just the one individual. But I found more than just this one lizard along the Sandy Wall. Tawny miner bees were making the most of the warm sun by mating and creating burrows for their eggs in the sandy soil before their short lives come to an end. A peacock butterfly and some hoverflies were feeding on the coltsfoot that carpeted the sides of the path with bright yellow flowerheads. I also found a gathering of these shiny beetles, which I have found out that they were alder leaf beetles. There is still no sign of any hares, weasels or barn owls today, but they have all been reported with sightings this week. I wonder if I will get lucky with them soon?
Tawny Miner Bee
Peacock Butterfly
Alder Leaf Beetles