Sunday, 29 May 2011

cambridgeshire day 1

We arrived the previous night, Our destination, Maidenhall on the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border. The Campsite was decent, hidden amidst predominantly coniferous woodland, the only catch was that there were no facilities, so we were going to have to use the ones in the caravan. For our first morning my we decided to go and look at Maidenhall, the local town. What makes Maidenhall famous-well nothing really!! There's a Big RAF place just outside the town but aside from that it resembles pretty much any other english town, only without any big name shops. There was only a Sainsburys that was a typical shop. Behind the Sainsburys was a river, quite big really and on it were the usual assortment of ducks (mallards) with some Canada geese and a couple of swans. There was a bridge across the river and on the other side there was more of a wildlife area. There was an area of marsh behind a line of trees and around the pond there were some Banded demoiselles.

-Banded demoiselle
There were only males in the pond area, but on the river there were a few more species of damselflies such as the Azure on the riverside vegetation.

-Azure Damselfly
Where we turned around there was a golf course and on it were a large number of blackbirds, but also there was a grey wagtail, which was quite nice to see.Walking back from the golf course My dad spotted a giant beetle crossing the path, I took some photos and after some identification we reckon that its a lesser stag beetle.

-Lesser Stag Beetle

On the way back we spotted some female banded demoiselle, Although I thought that they were beautiful demoiselles because of the lack of bands. Never mind! I wont be making that mistake again.

-Banded demoiselle (Female)
when we were almost on the town side of the river I spotted another type of damselfly, a blue tailed, this one is a normal mature specimen.

-Blue tailed damselfly
Back at the campsite we had time to kill, as we were back before lunch. I decided that after lunch I would go into the wood opposite and look at the apparent nature reserves there. In the leaflet the nature reserves apparently had stone curlew, woodlark and white admiral! The whole point of us coming on this holiday was to see stone curlew so it would be great to see them without even going to weeting heath, and on the first day. During Lunch we were visited by some squirrels. Unfortunately they were grey.

-Grey Tree Rat
So After lunch I set off, I won't deny it, thinking of stone curlew, The wood was mostly coniferous but there was no wildlife-at all. I eventually reached the nature reserves which were actually only about 200m squared a piece, and ultimately lacking in any form of heathland wildlife. I spotted a jay in one of the reserves, which so far have been the birds of the holiday. We had one in the morning and it just sat in front of the caravan. At the far side of the first reserve there was a path leading out of the reserve and into the neighbouring fields. I was still filled with stone curlew thoughts and the fields made me think that maybe they may be in the field. I wandered around the edge of the Field and reached a small pond. I glanced around and spotted a few damselflies but also a Hornet. sadly it landed way out of view, so I didn't get any photos. I double backed on myself to try and get back to the path. As I almost reached the path, I spotted a deer coming out of the woods and enter the Field. I tried to follow its progress so i could get closer to it but it kept dipping out of sight. Then, The deer popped up next to me! It just came out of the crops and looked at me, about 1.5m away from me. In a moment of absent mindedness I grabbed for the camera and it scarped but I managed to get some shots of its back end as it ran away. They always tell you that the back is vital when I.d'ing deer and as it so happens that was the case this time. The fact that the deer has a significant tail tells me that it is a muntjack-which is a first for me. At the time didn't know what kind of deer it was because my mammal book was at home so i remained ignorant to the true identity of the deer for the whole holiday. But it was the first new species of the holiday!

-Muntjack Deer

After it scarped away I followed round the rim of the feild. However the farmer came down in his car and told me that I was trespassing... so I had to make my way back into the wood pretty sharpish. When I did I found a speckled wood butterfly, which is my first for the year.

-Speckled wood

So no stone curlews and no woodlarks but still enough to be happy with. After tea we went to the another river away from the campsite to sit and see what came. There was quite an influx of unusual wildlife. The river I hould say was one of the fens and there were barges moored up all along the dock we were sat on. Naturally the first birds we saw were mallards, but then a common tern flew down river and started fishing in front of us. Then a kingfisher flew by and rested just up stream. We also spotted a jay (Told you they were the birds of the holiday!) and on the way back there were some red-legged partridges in a feild. so overall, a great start to the holiday.

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