Christmas decorations are starting to twinkle in shop windows and I’m writing this having just cleared dozens of retailers’ offers from my inbox. This time of the year can be an exhausting mix of stress and excitement, but we have the perfect antidote for you here at Strumpshaw. You can take a stroll to unwind and ground yourself in the sounds of hundreds of waders and wildfowl at Buckenham. Or spend quality time with family exploring our festive Robin Robin activity trail, followed by a chat with our friendly volunteers at Reception Hide – and a hot chocolate perhaps!
What’s on at Strumpshaw Fen?
Although the wetter parts of the fen trail are closed for the winter, there’s so much to see from drier land! Otters, bearded reedlings and kingfishers are frequently being seen from Reception Hide. In previous years, we have been lucky to host a starling roost, and you can follow us on our social media channels (Twitter and Facebook) for updates and news about recent sightings. If you’re at the reserve just before dusk, you might see marsh harriers coming into roost in the reedbed and a beautiful winter sunset if the conditions are right.
Photographs of a bearded reedling, a winter sunset over the river and one of our Highland cows in the snow, all by Matt Wilkinson (rspb-images.com).
Birds become less secretive at this time of the year and easier to spot as the leaves fall; be sure to check the feeders as you enter the reserve and keep an eye and ear out around Reception and the woodland trails. Speaking of which, our Christmas holidays activity trail this year is based on the product of the RSPB’s collaboration with Aardman and Netflix: Robin Robin is a tale for all the family about a robin who is trying to fit in. The film airs on Wednesday 24th November, and the trailer promises a heartfelt and beautifully crafted story.
The activity trail runs from 24th November to 10th January. Activity packs are £3 each from Reception between 10am and 3:30pm (no need to book), and an audio version of the trail is available. All the details are here.
Who’s overwintering at Buckenham?
Walk or drive down to Buckenham Marshes to witness a winter wildfowl and wader spectacle! Wrap up warm and see which species are refuelling on the marshes and scrapes; recent sightings include pink-footed geese, white-fronted geese, lapwing, dunlin, ruff, golden plover, wigeon and stonechat. One of the Cantley peregrine falcons also returned to his territory recently. If you haven’t visited Buckenham Marshes before, the Strumpshaw Reception volunteers can give you directions.
How can I bring the peaceful presence of wildlife into my world this winter?
If you don’t get the chance to visit the marshes or coast this year, you can often see large flocks of geese – especially greylags and pink-footed geese – feeding on leftover sugar beet in arable fields after the harvest.
You will likely see more and more garden birds sheltering in your garden or local parks as the weather turns colder. If you would like to give your garden birds an extra helping hand over winter, putting out bird feeders and keeping a birdbath or bowl of water free from ice can make a big difference.
If you are keen to learn to identify some birds by their songs then winter is a good time to start because fewer species are vocal at the moment, so you can learn new species gradually as more start to sing as we transition into spring. Lucy Lapwing’s YouTube channel features a fun series of Birdsong Lesson videos.
A nature-friendly Christmas
Remember that the RSPB shop has a selection of more nature-friendly gifts and raises money for our work. The shop also has all the bird food you could need to stock up on for hungry garden visitors! Or how about treating your loved ones to a day out at a nature reserve this year; spending time with family and friends seems even more precious this Christmas.
Wishing you all a healthy, happy and wildlife-filled winter from the Strumpshaw Fen team!
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