Thursday, 29 October 2015

Beautiful Bittern

Who doesn't love a Bittern? I certainly do and I'm in a privileged position to work around these great birds most of the time and best of all; the management of the fen that I help carry out directly aids their well being. So when a bittern comes out and says hello its always a special moment, if I am taking my lunch break and have a camera in my hand its a moment I can share with other too...


Thursday, 22 October 2015

Great Grey Shrikes at Strumpshaw

 It has been a while (as always)! I will do an update on our trip to Fetlar soon, but I thought I should post some pics of the fantastic shrikes that are currently frequenting the fen. 
After 3 days of looking for rarities along the Norfolk coast last week (with some success) I was back at work for the standard Thursday work party. As I entered the plot of reed due for burning I noticed the unmistakable form of a great grey shrike flying away heading towards Fen Hide. I was pretty pleased as it was just my second great grey shrike of the fen, also the second one I have found at the fen! I did get some shocking record pics but thankfully i deleted them today.
The bird remained all day and was seen through the weekend too, I then got a text from Matt saying there were two together from reception on the Sunday... wow crazy! I then got another text from Justin a few evenings later to say there were at least three from Tower Hide!!! I did not manage to see the three, but late this afternoon I managed to get out and see two of these beauties.
They were showing brilliantly and at one point they both had a bit of a scrap calling to each other, not heard that before. It is a bit of a shame that it was late in the afternoon and the light was truly awful, but you get the general idea.
Interestingly while watching them I was trying to see what they were eating, this is a species I relate to dry places, especially heathland in winter in UK, so what does a fen provide for them. I saw one individual catch three dark bush crickets and a migrant hawker in half an hour but it did drop down many more times and appear to have some sort of prey item, I'd have never thought dragonflies were on the menu! Looking at the habitat it is favouring it is similar in some way to a heath... it has cut reed plots to eat small mammals and insects in and also isolated trees in which to observe the world, the water levels are currently low as its habitat management time too (not as dry as a heath though!) It will be interesting to see how long they stay. I have been told that one has wintered in the past, although the last bird I saw was an afternoon bird only, either way we have been spoilt already... 3 great greys at an inland fen, superb!