A Freezing Norfolk

06th June 2013
I've had little chance to add to the website of late but will post some updates on recent photographic trips I've been on, starting with a trip I made to Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk in January. Strumpshaw is a well-known RSPB reserve near Norwich and the Norfolk Broads with a reputation for Bitterns, Kingfishers and Otters. It was with these 3 subjects in mind, none of which I've been able to get decent images of before that I set off for on a freezing cold morning before dawn having crashed the previous evening at a local hotel. My car thermometer read -6 C as I headed through the country lanes.
Despite numerous layers, hot drinks and hats after c.5 hours in a hide I was starting to lose feeling everywhere. Whilst a spectacular sunrise, the temp never rose above freezing and the ice remained solid on the majority of the reserve lakes and this put paid to the Otters and Kingfishers. However I did see a few flying Bitterns but nothing close and nothing in the reed bed margins. This bird flew past fast and low and I just managed a couple of frames.

The other highlight was watching firstly one, then a pair of Chinese Water Deer work their way around the reed bed at c. 80 yards distance which whilst not close still gave a lovely view in the weak sunlight. Not a species I knew much about but smaller than a Roe Deer and squatter, the males carry two tusks for fighting in the rut and the UK now holds about 10% of the world's population even though they are only found in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. Also, according to the British Deer Society, up to 40% of the fawns do not survive the first 4 weeks of life.

The other bird I managed to observe but again at a distance were several of the local Marsh Harriers hunting over the middle (annoyingly) of the vast reed beds in the chill wind. Again no close images but still a joy to watch.

Finally, while walking around the reserve to keep warm later in the day a friendly Robin gave me some help with directions.It ended a frustrating day from a photographic perspective but certainly a great reserve and somewhere to revisit but preferably when there isn't ice forming on the end of my nose!

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