Sunday 24 March 2013

Where's spring?

I remember this weekend last year was warm and sunny, a Baillon's Crake had turned up on Great Saltee followed two days later by a spring Red-flanked Bluetail on Galley Head. However this year is altogether different, I reckon there's been snow every week since moving to Norwich in January and this morning it was brass monkeys although the snow had stopped at least.
With no significant movement of spring migrants just yet I decided to go local and headed for Strumpshaw Fen.
I started off at the feeders near reception. The sun was shining but the wind was really raw. No sign of any Bramblings but a couple of Marsh Tits were present including this one who posed briefly while the sun shone.

Marsh Tit - Strumpshaw Fen RSPB - 24th March 2013
After thirty minutes the cold was starting to bite, I headed into the first hide to warm up. Out on the pool I could see good numbers of Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Shoveller, Mallard, a distant Black Swan and a smart male Marsh Harrier.
From there I took the woodland trail, halfway along the path I came across what is probably the tamest Pheasant I ever saw. I got down to take a few shots at eye level and it strolled up to me for a close look. In fact so close I couldn't focus the lens.

Very tame Pheasant
As I continued along the path the Pheasant followed me for about one hundred meters before deciding I had nothing of interest for him.
Heading towards the Fen hide the wind was really cutting. I had many layers on but I was glad when I reached the hide and got in out of that east wind. These Highland Cattle looked like it was no trouble to them.

Highland Cattle - Strumpshaw Fen
I'm a little surprised to see these sort of cattle in Norfolk, I associate them with  Scotland but I guess they could be anywhere. Great looking beasts all the same!
At the Fen hide it was quiet save for two Redshanks, some courting Coot and three distant Marsh Harriers (two female types and a male). I had missed an Otter by two minutes (seems to happen to me a lot). I spent an hour there hoping to see a Bittern but left empty-handed.
I took my lunch back in the hide at reception, having warmed up I decided to check the feeders once more. This time I had two female and one male Brambling. I tried for an hour to get some decent shots but failed to improve on those I got in early February. The light was just to weak.

Female Brambling - Strumpshaw Fen - 24th March 2013.
A female Siskin and a Nuthatch put in brief appearances. After an hour I was frozen solid. I headed back to the car and off home.
Next weekend the clocks go forward and the weather looks like warming up a little, its also Easter so that means a four day weekend (huzzah!). The plan is to hit the east coast with Nick to search for migrants. Hopefully my next blog update will look a little bit more spring-like!
Until then!

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