I was watching Eastenders last night (don't judge me) and there was a touching scene when one character was visiting another in a mental health clinic. Jean (the character living at the clinic) made a reference to waking up in the morning and seeing the daffodils out of her window. That, she said, was the start of 'a good day'.
I know exactly what the writers meant by this. If ever I'm feeling low or stressed, five minutes at Strumpshaw Fen, or even looking out my window, can perk me up. Today I was having a low moment at my desk when suddenly I saw a flash of black and red outside the office window. A great spotted woodpecker had landed on the tree right outside and then briefly visited our bird table.
Such a magnificent bird can't fail to excite even the most miserable me! I then took a minute to keep watching and after it had left it's place was taken by two beautiful long-tailed tits. Before I knew it I was smiling, hoorah!
It is so easy to forget that nature is always there for us to take comfort and joy from. Next time you're feeling blue, take a look outside your window or, even better, go somewhere beautiful like a park or a nature reserve, and let the wildlife remind you that the world is beautiful.
The RSPB has recently published a document called Wellbeing through wildlife. If you're interested how wildlife can benefit you in a number of ways, then give it a read.
The colour yellow – daffodils swooning in the sun, lesser celandine reflecting the rays from their bright petals, the delicate brimstone as it glides past along the woodland path, the eye-ring of the little ringed plover at Buckenham.
The colours pink and purple – red dead nettle springing up everywhere, and the odd early dog violet.
The colour green – bright and shiny new hawthorn leaves, the iridescent wing feathers of lapwing as they swoop and ‘peewit’ in the sky over the marshes.
Black and white – our logo bird displaying and ‘klooting’ on the marshes and starting to nest scrape.
The smell of moist leaf mould, the scent of cherry blossom, the aroma of dog violet by the side of the path.
The sound of fieldfares 'chacking' overhead and then right by my feet a grass snake slithers away, annoyed at having been disturbed from it's little sun trap.
Finally a riot of colour all in one place as a peacock butterfly circles on the edge of the track, then lands and opens it’s wings. A perfect specimen showing off and warming up in this morning’s fabulous warm spring sun.
As some of you may already know, we are currently installing two new sluices into the reserve, with plans to add a third on Lackford Run later this year. The work is taking slightly longer than we had anticipated as the wardens and volunteers want to make absolutely sure that there is no leaking and that the paths are safe for visitors. Unfortunately this means that access to Tower hide is going to be sporadic over the next week or two. (Please call the office on 01603 715 191 to check the access situation before your visit)
We understand that the restricted access to Tower hide is frustrating but we do ask for your patience as this is such an important job!
Without these new sluices, the risk of salt water flooding onto the fen from tidal surges in the river Yare is dangerously high. Salt water flooding is a disaster situation for a habitat like Strumpshaw Fen. It can kill off fresh water plants, fresh water fish and then, as a knock on effect, the birds which eat those fish. Rare birds that we all love to see like kingfishers and bittern.
So seeing as the new sluices will reduce the flooding and enable us to flush fresh water through the fen when needed, I'd say we should all enjoy the rest of Strumpshaw Fen and the Mid Yare Valley!
Today at Strumpshaw I went on a wander and saw the following delights (and none of them from Tower hide!)
Don't know about you, but I for one am not missing Tower hide today!
Marsh harriers by Ben Hall (rspb-images.co.uk)
As the dashing Vince Fontaine once said, 'It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's what you do with your dancin' shoes.' Grease 1978
Alas, if only that were true for the male marsh harriers, or the T-Birds as I like to think of them. They cruise into town, cool as anything, strutting their stuff and hoping to win the attention of one of our lovely females who have stayed over the winter. However, if their moves aren't up to scratch and they fail to impress... well, lets just say they won't be going home with any kind of prize, not even from Vince!
As you can see, Strumpshaw Fen has a new barn owl box, generously donated by regular visitor Tony Howes and bravely put up by our two tree climbing wardens, Matt and Alasdair!
We already have a pair of nesting barn owls on the reserve that have used our existing blue box on the edge of the woods, looking out over the meadow. However, there is always space for more and we hope this new box will encourage other barn owls to make Strumpshaw Fen their home.
The barn owl is one of the most beautiful birds in the UK. If you've ever been lucky enough to see one, you'll know what I mean. They are ghostly white with beautifully brown speckled wings and startling heart shaped faces which peer down looking for mice, voles and other tasty prey. They hunt silently, with a layer of tiny hairs covering their flight feathers which trap air in order to deaden the sound of their wings as they fly.
So, if you go down to the Strumpshaw woods today, you wont be sure of seeing these magnificent creatures but you will be in with a good chance if you're patient and as quiet as a mouse...