Spring on the Fen

  • May 2, 2015 12:41 pm

Spring has sprung down on the fen, as the sun rises in the cold morning air, I’m greeted by the glorious summer song of the Sedge Warbler. A mix of musical trills and warbles, mechanical rasping, sweet whistles and low purrs, combined seemingly randomly like the best jazz singers.

What wonderful medicine for the human soul to be stood, alone, in the middle of a reedbed in the sun, surrounded by birdsong and mist rising all around. The air filled with the energetic rhythm of singing Sedge Warblers, the silvery notes of the Blackcap (my favourite!), Whitethroat, Chiff Chaff, Reed Bunting, the winnowing call of the Little Grebe and the haunting echo of the Cuckoo, layers of sound in the stillness of the morning.

I enjoy photographing Sedge Warblers, though frustrating at times as they have a habit of singing low down in cover, they pop their heads up now and again, sometimes allowing a few photos.

Sedge warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaenus, perched on reed stem, Fen, Spring, May, Norfolk

Sedge warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaenus, perched on reed stem, Fen, Spring, May, Norfolk

Whilst listening to the warblers, I watch a pair of Whitethroats gathering nesting material from amongst the reed stems, one hops up into the open singing it’s plain but sweet song.

Whitethroat, Sylvia communis, perched on reed stem, Fen, Spring, May, Norfolk

Walking onward, through the quickly melting early morning frost, I spot a Kestrel gliding by and a pair of Greylag Geese flapping noisily across. Young Rabbits are playing and feeding on the drier fen margin, and adding to the birdsong a Wren peeps out of the gorse and a male Blackbird sings a simple melody from an oak tree.

I turn to see a Roe deer buck, grazing in the damp rushes, he hasn’t noticed me yet, so I stalk closer. Another deer barks in the distance and his head comes up, ears pricked. I freeze, balancing mid step, holding my breath. His head goes down again and I stalk forward, hunched to stay below the hedge line, I make it to the cover of a wide tree trunk. Peeping round it, I can see he’s still calmly nibbling, and I have the privilege of watching him for the next 20 minutes or so. He munches a few leaves, has a scratch, shakes out his coat, then rubs his antlers against a sapling, sniffing and scent marking as he slowly moves further away. Wonderful to watch such a normally shy creature just going about his business.

Roe deer, Capreolus capreolus, male, buck, early morning, Fen, Spring, May, Norfolk


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They’re back!

  • April 20, 2013 1:11 pm

Spring has finally sprung down on the Fen. As if someone has flicked a switch, the reedbed is full of birds singing. A Chiffchaff calls from the hedge, a tumble of notes come from an unseen Willow warbler, and the Reed buntings chirp out their simple song from the still frosty reeds.

Reed bunting, Emberiza schoeniclus, male singing in reedbed, Norfolk, April

I suddenly hear a snatch of sound, a scratchy buzz then a trill, daring not to believe my ears I follow the path towards it, the noise gets louder and I spot the singer, coloured like the reeds with a dashing cream stripe above his eye – my first Sedge warbler of the year! He’s singing the summer in, a jumble of trills, fluid warbles, whistles and a scratchy jazz rhythm. I close my eyes to enjoy the show, and I can hear more singing throughout the reedbed. A tiny Wren shouts his massive song from a nearby bramble bush waking me from a daydream of hot summer days. Distantly a Cuckoo calls.

I walk onwards and spot a mouse like movement in the path-side plants. I watch and wait, and the creature pops out onto the edge of the path, a Whitethroat, too busy searching for food to sing, investigating the tangle of stems hoping for a meal.

Whitethroat, Sylvia communis, perched on dry stem, Norfolk, April

On my way home the single Swallow I saw last week has turned into two, they chase each other at top speed as I go by. One Swallow doesn’t make a summer, but maybe two do?!


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