Trip reports

Strumpshaw Fen

Strumpshaw Fen
Sue Bayliss

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Strumpshaw Wednesday 15th June

It was a very pleasant morning when eleven group members met at Strumpshaw RSPB reserve. First of all we had a look to see what was on the feeders and around the pond by the reception hide. Here we saw great-tit, blue-tit, robin, chaffinch, common damsel flies, and a red eyed damselfly. We then spent a little while in the hide looking at the ducks and gulls, we also saw a pair of great crested grebes, one on the nest. A black swan was sitting on the bank in the far distance which the warden informed me has been there for the past three years obviously having escaped from someone's collection.

We took the path up to the river bank having lost two of our party who went into the wild flower meadow to photograph the wild flowers. On the way we had a lovely sighting of a willow warbler that we could hear but not see until a passing RSPB warden found it for us. We stopped for a while in the Fen Hide where a heron was standing just in front of us and the warden who was in the hide told us that it had just eaten a pike that was nearly as big as the heron was. We had good views of marsh harriers from here too.

We carried on further along the path to the river seeing reed bunting, sedge warblers and hearing the Cetti's warblers. When we reached the river we followed the path to the right. Along here we saw black caps, chiff-chaff, willow warbler, goldfinches, a jay and best treat of all, were able to observe for quite a long time a hobby hunting and catching the dragonflies, passing them from his claws to his beak. On the river the yellow water lilies were looking good and on the reserve side there were some beautiful white water lilies in a dyke with Norfolk hawker dragonflies flying above them. We reached the Tower Hide around mid-day and watched tufted ducks, lapwing, gadwall, wigeon, shoveler, mallard, shelduck, cormorant and marsh harriers.

Moving on round the reserve we had the good fortune to have some wonderful views of two swallowtail butterflies that flew over our heads and later on a brimstone butterfly and another one when we arrived back at the reserve entrance. We spent a little more time in the reception centre hide where a voluntary warden explained the work that was going on there surveying the bittern population and also told me how this reserve is now attracting a lot more visitors and that there is never any shortage of volunteers to man the reception desk or do the survey work there. I can understand it, I have always thought Strumpshaw a great reserve to visit, and there is so much to see all the year round, not only birds but wild flowers, butterflies, dragonflies, otters, frogs, toads, insects and now highland cattle as well.

I have been visiting Strumpshaw since the 1970's when along with
Mike Blackburn, the first warden, and volunteers from the Lowestoft Group we tramped through the reed beds creating paths, clearing scrub, lighting bonfires and brewing up tea in the fireplace of the then derelict house. Strumpshaw reserve has come a long way since then.

Pat Chilvers