Since my last post, I’ve been spending a lot of time down at the Fen which is teeming with wildlife at the moment. Hoards of Teal and Snipe can be found throughout the reserve, but I’ve been unsuccessful in photographing them. The Snipe are simply too well camouflaged, I’ve lost count of the number of times one has erupted from the vegetation virtually beneath my feet, and the Teal are far too nervous for a close approach.

This morning was no different, and the wildlife watching started in the car park. As I opened the car door I spooked a large dumpy brown bird, it took flight and I spotted the long bill, another cryptically camouflaged creature – the Woodcock.

I hurried to set up and wait for the Barn owl, which managed to elude my camera once again. Whilst waiting I spotted the pair of Roe deer that I’ve been seeing regularly in this area. They took no notice of me, but were too far away for photos, so I took this video:

Roe deer at Redgrave and Lopham Fen

There are a lot of deer on the Fen, the smaller Muntjac is more often seen, sulking along woodland paths and bouncing away flashing the white underside of their tails when they know they’ve been spotted. Roe are more wary still and if discovered they may prance away barking loudly to warn their comrades of danger. These two look fairly relaxed though, and as the sun rose higher they melted away into the reeds.

I decided to go for a walk, and soon came across what at first glance appears to be a rabbit with no ears. I was unsurprised to find that it was in fact the Black-tailed Prairie dog, who has affectionately been named ‘Paddy’. This long term resident and refugee from a local exotic animal collection, has set up home in the fields adjoining the Fen. Native to the great plains of the USA, he is quite happily living on the short rabbit grazed meadows, but with only the bunnies for company he seems a little lonely. I watched him enjoying the warm sunshine, when suddenly he drew his barrel shaped body up to it’s full height, threw back his head and uttered the most mournful squeal. He dropped back to all fours and listened. When no answer came, he pottered around his burrow, before standing up and calling again.




Walking on I find another Barn Owl hunting, but he doesn’t come close enough for any good photos.

Barn owl, Tyto alba, in flight, hunting at first light, Norfolk, April

As I head for home, spring seems to be tentatively beginning. A pair of Long-tailed tits are prospecting for nesting materials and a trio of Treecreepers chase each other up a branch. There’s still no sign of the summer migrants yet, but I’m sure they’ll be arriving soon.

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  1. Great entry. I didn’t realise the prairie dog was still there, quite a tick for Norfolk/Suffolk. As someone who can’t get around as I woild like, I find it great to be with you on your field trips even if it is only in spirit. Well done.

  2. I agree with Rob, the way you write makes me imagine I am there on the Fen with you. Poor lonely Paddy, lovely shot in the sunshine though.

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