4th June 2015
The first week of June and time for a visit to Fowlmere in search of the increasingly rare Turtle Dove. Unbelievably a Turtle Dove could be heard purring from the car park but then flew towards Drewers Hide. A quick look around that area only got me closer to the bird, but even from the hide it could not be seen. After about 20 minutes I gave up and headed for the Reed-bed Hide.
On the eastern trail and looking back over the reed-bed I could see a large bird of prey wheeling around over the reed-bed. It was soon identified as a Marsh Harrier and then a second bird appeared, both females, and proceeded to quarter the reed-bed before disappearing as quickly as they had appeared.
Once inside the Reed-bed Hide, a Grey Heron flew in with a rather large fish in its mandibles and close inspection revealed that it had caught a rather large Perch. Now, assuming that the bill of a Heron is 6 inches long, then this Perch is 11 inches, a truly magnificent ex-fish. The trouble is that the first thing that the Heron did was to drop the fish. It didn't seem too bothered as it knew that the fish was now in shallow waters, which is probably why it brought it here.
There on in followed a fight that went on for some time until the fish was eventually brought under control and swallowed.
And I am not quite sure whether the bulging neck is a sign of pain or satisfaction.
As I left the hide I could hear a second Turtle Dove purring to the right, which is where I photographed it a couple of years ago high in a dead tree. I turned right at the main track and walked 50 yards or so I could see the tree and there it was, almost on the same branch as it was two years ago.
I love Fowlmere. Even if it is quiet, it is such a lovely walk through diverse habitats, and for Turtle Doves it is by far the most reliable site I know of in the south-east for this declining species.