Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Fowlmere Again for that Elusive Turtle

8th August 2013

Third time lucky. Last year I managed to connect with Turtle Dove on my first Spring visit to Fowlmere, although birds have been present albeit a little elusive, I failed to see or hear a single bird in two visits. So, bearing in mind the time of the year, this was my last chance.

I decided to go clockwise around the reserve this time which takes you through the reed bed via the boardwalk and on to the southern path which eventually leads to the Reed Bed Hide. As I was passing the dragonfly ponds there was little in the way of dragonflies or damselflies, but I had that eerie feeling that something was watching me. And there it was. Just a few feet out in the water, just under the surface, was a six-inch long Pike. There was no obvious signs of other fish in the water for it to feed on so one can only assume it was living off dragonfly larvae.

A little further along the path I diverted up a track through the reeds, attracted by a number of butterflies nectaring on Hemp Agrimony. As I stood there waiting for something to settle close by I was drawn to a small bird moving around stealthily in the reeds. A young Sedge Warbler was searching for food and had obviously never seen a human before as it continued to search without a care in the world.

The rest of the southern border was fairly quiet and I started my approach to the Reed Bed Hide. Half way up the path a family of Long-tailed Tits were calling away in the trees around me and eventually one showed itself for a photo.

Once inside the hide the first bird to catch the eye was a Heron which uncharacteristically was sitting on a fence. The usual flock of Grey Lag Geese were also there, often dashing round chasing, bathing and preening. This particular individual seemed to be practising for conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.The proceedings were then temporarily halted while an Otter scrambled over the bank and into the ditch in front of the hide. This was my first ever Otter sighting in the wild, but unfortunately it was hidden initially in the reeds but when it approached open water, dived out of view.

But, by way of compensation, a Kingfisher flew in and started to fish from a branch some 40 yards away. A little too far for decent shots but OK for a record of the day.

But then came that magic moment. As I walked down the steps of the hide I could hear in the distance the gentle purring of a Turtle Dove. The problem with Turtle Dove's purring is that, whilst it is relatively easy to determine the direction from which it is coming, it is very difficult to assess distance. So there was nothing for it but to head off in that direction in search of the bird. The purring gradually got closer and I eventually saw the bird sitting in a dead tree, but still a long way off. I therefore crept along the ditch for 50 yards which allowed me to get this shot, still distant but a photo nevertheless. Third time lucky!!

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