>Sculthorpe Moor June 2010

>After a really warm and sunny period, it had suddenly turned wet over the last few days, but I decided to head out anyway and visit the Sculthorp Moor nature reserve.

The journey was uneventful, but as I neared Fakenham the mist came down, and I ended up driving with my lights on. Arriving at the parking lot, I walked through the Visitor Centre and had a quick talk with one of the volunteers, who told be all the hides were open, and pointed out the web cam pictures of the Marsh Harrier nest complete with chicks.

I walk out towards the Scrape hide first which talks me through the woodland, and I stop to look at the flowers growing there – it is lush green, and these pinpoints of colour really stand out. In particular the wild foxgloves are really amazing with their intricate hanging trumpet-like flowers.

Further along, the land opens out and I’m among tall reeds, and then the path takes me out to the river Wensom, and along that for a way until I reach the hide. Walking in here I see there is one other person already there, and I’m just about to say hello, when I somehow let the door slam behind me! not a good thing for a bird watcher!!

This hide overlooks a stretch of wetland, and my new companion tells me that the water level is a lot higher than it had been, following the thunder storms of the last couple of days, and I also hear that the kingfishers did not survive the hard winter. Over in the distance I get a view of a kestrel on the wing, and then a group of Mallard chicks appear on the water in front of us. Another person joins us – a real birder by the look of the equipment he is carrying. He tells us he’s on vacation in the area and lives up in Scarborough.

I spend about 45 minutes there, just watching the birds and occasionally talking with my companions, and then head out to the next hide, with views over the marsh land where the Harriers are nesting.

This hide is more populated with men with big lenses, and it also has a webcam link showing the Marsh Harriers nest.

This is excellent, as we can see and hear the chicks on the screen, and then as the adult leaves the nest to hunt, look outside and see it swoop away. I watch it for a long time with my binoculars, and manage to get a couple of pictures too. Nearer to the hide is a feeder, with smaller birds feeding – tit’s which are common in my garden too, and also what appears to be a pair of bullfinches. As we watch, one of the volunteers goes out to put more seed onto the seed table – and nearly slips on the wet tree trunks.

In the distance I suddenly see a pheasant break cover and fly for a few feet before disappearing into the long grass again. Soon a couple of pheasants are under one of the feeders eating the spilled grain.

People come and go from the hide, and eventually I am getting to feel cold sitting there, so I collect up all my things and head out. There is another hide along this path overlooking woodland, but I decide that I’ve had enough for one day, and take the longer path back to the visitor centre. It’s only when I get inside again that I realise just how chilled I’m become outside, and I’m pleased that they have nice bathrooms:)

I talk once more with the volunteer, and decide to become a “friend” of the reserve – I get to come in free, and they have a quarterly newsletter – plus I get a sticker for my car!!!

So I’ll be back soon to check on the progress of the birds and wild flowers – and hopefully in warmer weather.


About Derek Knight

Transplanted Brit, now in the US Mid West | Writer, blogger & author | passionate about life | Traveler and home body | amazon.com/author/derekknight | http://derekknight007.wordpress.com/ | https://twitter.com/DerekKnight1 | https://www.facebook.com/Derek.Knight.Author
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