9th April 2015
This only my second visit to this lovely reserve so I made my way immediately to the Whitley Hide in the hope of photographing the Marsh Harriers which I knew were displaying. On the way I stopped briefly to have a closer look at the stream running alongside the track. A Frog was sitting quietly close to the path and was keeping very still, hoping that his camouflage would protect him.
I then moved further along the path, and have you ever had that feeling that you were being watched? This is the first time that I have ever seen this phenomenon. A Water Vole was hanging vertically in the water, just keeping very still and watching my every movement. Eventually it slid below the water and re-appeared on my side of the bank, although well hidden amongst the reeds. Luckily with my new camera I was able to find a line-of-sight through the reed and managed a shot of its cute little face.
Now on to the Whitley Hide and the first sign of activity was this Brown Rat which was making the most of the free meal dropped from the bird table. Rats are always going to be attracted to feeding stations, but after all it is their home.
Next up was one of the key species of Sculthorpe Moor, the Bullfinch. Bullfinches are not particularly thriving but seem to holding their own in most areas. However, Sculthorpe Moor must be the most reliable site that I know of in the whole of East Anglia for seeing this most well-loved bird. I will not normally photograph birds on bird table or feeders, but will always make an exception for Bullfinches.
What was a surprise, however, was the appearance of some Bramblings, not on the bird table, but always feeding on the dropped seed below. There were at least four birds present, two males and two females, which I was able to separate because a bird from each sex was ringed (which I have excluded from the photos).
But the purpose of today's visit was to photograph the Marsh Harriers and I was not to be disappointed. What was a surprise, however, was that I was able to get shots of both the female and the male on the ground, a first for me.
And to finish the performance, the female put on a display right in front of the hide in a fly-past to beat all fly-pasts.
I just love Sculthorpe Moor and it is now on my list of annual pilgrimages.