Saturday, 12 November 2016

Recent sightings Strumpshaw fen 11/11


The highlight bird of the week was a great white egret that was seen early on Thursday morning, it did a circuit of the fen and then went down near to reception, unfortunately it was not seen again.  The best bird experience however has to go to the starlings, it is too early to say whether it will turn into an impressive murmuration, but we did have at least 2700 starlings on Tuesday evening in front of Reception Hide. I will keep an eye on numbers and locations and report as required, often their numbers look like they are building and then they all disappear for the rest of winter. Waxwings were once again seen on passage throughout the week with two today flying over the work party, two on Wednesday in the ash tree near reception and a single bird in the same ash tree on Monday morning. These sightings could relate to the same birds being seen over again, but the way they are stopping for a brief period and then flying off again strongly may suggest otherwise.
The Reception Hide kingfisher has been putting on a good show throughout the week, but the Jack snipe appear to have moved to Fen Hide, this in part is due to flooding of the river, which has raised the water level in the fen throughout the week. Bitterns have been seen from various locations throughout the week. Although bittern sightings are not quite daily, the sightings are increasing, perhaps signifying an in migration from the continent. Otters have been seen from Reception, Fen Hide and the sluice throughout the week, from descriptions it sounds like it is still the large dog otter.
The reedbed has started to attract a few water pipits, these are always hard to see well at the fen, but we do get decent numbers, the trick is knowing the call. Bearded tits have been seen throughout the week all around the fen, including Sandy Wall, Reception, Fen Hide and anywhere with a good view of the reedbed. The stonechats are still present, visible from Fen Hide, Tower Hide and anywhere along the riverbank. It is hard to be sure but I think we may have three pairs of stonechats in the fen this winter. They almost always stay in pairs throughout the winter, so if you see one look around for its mate, it won’t be far away. A female hen harrier has once again been seen on and off throughout the week, last reported on Tuesday, but often they appear late in the day, when Reception is closed.
The photo above is of a new insect for the reserve; a western conifer seed bug. This insect originally from America has been imported into northern Europe and has colonized southern England too, this specimen was likely to have come from the population in southern England, but has still travelled far and wide to get here (31 October)

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