Otter 'steals the show' at Strumpshaw.....
An early morning (5th) at the reception hide at Strumpshaw Fen to look for a Jack Snipe turned out to be very worthwhile.
Pochard and Tufted Duck were immediately of note on the water, from the reception hide (aka brick hide) but no sign of a jack snipe. After a short while, I was joined by Chris Small, who also had jack snipe in mind.
It was not long before a Kingfisher flew across and landed on a branch in the water, the first appearance of this avian colour fest, after which, was followed by several fly-pasts. Two Cetti’s Warblers were singing, at least 3 male Reed Buntings flew past and a Common Buzzard tried to fend off a harassing Carrion Crow.
The Coot present, although carrying out their territorial chases, also appeared nervous, with sudden flights for no apparent reason. However, there was very good reason for the coot to take flight, and as suspected the reason surfaced-an Otter. The Otter made its way across the water, periodically diving and putting more waterfowl to flight, past the island of reeds and across to the right-hand reed fringe. The edge of the reeds was followed as the otter searched for food, occasionally surfacing to swallow, what must have been a small item of prey and it swam towards the direction of the hide, before swimming in front of the hide, before heading out to deeper water and the reed margins where it was lost from sight. After a short time the otter was seen again, but did not venture close to the hide this time, before once again disappearing.
At least 4 Marsh Harriers were seen, all appearing to be young birds and both Water Rail and Bearded Reedling were heard.
Finally, Chris found a Jack Snipe in the cropped reeds and although largely hidden (both by reeds and occasionally by a Grey-lag Goose), it was seen preening and doing its characteristic ‘bobbing’.
Great wildlife and good company, a really enjoyable early morning’s ecological experience!