Monday, 21 November 2011

Stodmarsh NNR

Last week I was lucky enough after a lull of a month to go out walking 4 times and 2 of those specifically for birding. A great time was had on each occasion. Each report will sadly be short but will contain a full sighting list. This is the third of the 4 reports, a day at Stodmarsh with Stephen on 18/11/2011 .

Sadly there are no pictures with this post, it was a lovely day, I didn’t even put a coat on until 2.45pm, but all birds were too far away or skittish for photography.

Our first port of call was the Reedbed Hide, sadly though all activity was in the far distance which was soon to be seen far closer from the footpath which turned out to be quite active, first off a couple of Cetti’s Warblers were heard from the nearby reeds, then a small russet bullet flew between two sets of reeds, one of the singing Cetti’s. Then we overlooked the lake from which large flocks of Teal, Tufted Duck and Shovelers could be seen, interspersed among them were some Pochards, Mallards and Gadwalls and a couple of Great Crested Grebes.

Further along the path we could see across to the far side where Cormorants were sat in the trees, there were some Mute Swans and a couple of Heron by the bank. A solitary goose behind the island remained asleep and unidentified, though its size suggested Canada Goose (we did not count it); we also thought we had a Scaup among the Tufties and were checking the books frantically for verification features when the whole lot lifted, but no sign of a predator, and no sign of the suspect Tufted when they landed. In the trees around us were numerous small birds, most of which remained unidentified, however a Greenfinch stayed still long enough for identification as did a Chaffinch a little later. A Green Woodpecker flew off to a nearby tree, however a large number of branches helped it hide from my camera.

Tower Hide had nothing new to see, however of interest were a couple of owl pellets on a window ledge when we opened the shutter. It’s the nearest I have been to an Owl this year! We made our way up to the river and followed it towards Grove Ferry. Coots and Moorhens called up from the reeds and occasionally showed briefly, as did a Reed Bunting; as we moved down the river a number of thrushes shot across the river, I was certain they were Redwings, and I eventually managed to get one in the scope as proof. The riverside walk was alarmingly quiet, even a piece of wetland to our right which earlier this year had been teeming with birdlife held only a few Pied Wagtails. A half dozen Starlings, flew overhead, otherwise it was quiet, the river especially so.That was until we got within a couple of hundred yards of Grove Ferry when the trees came alive with a few Goldfinches and larger numbers of Blue Tits and Great Tits. A Kestrel was seen hunting nearby, and just as we were giving up hope of seeing one a Kingfisher shot past, very colourful against the dark river bank.

We ate a late lunch in the Bus shelter at Grove Ferry overlooking the fields of what should have been Fieldfare, but only contained Carrion Crows, Wood Pigeons and a few Rabbits. In the far distance a Buzzard was seen hunting high in the air. We moved on to the ramp to see a few Greylag Geese, hundreds of Teal and a Redshank. As it was getting late we missed out Feast’s Hide and Harrison’s Drove Hide and walked on to Marsh Hide in hope of seeing the Glossy Ibis, however it was a no show and dusk was fast approaching. “En route” we did catch a small flock of Fieldfare, their blue-grey rumps showing well. At Marsh Hide we did get good views of a Little Egret feeding nearby and of a Marsh Harrier which not only spooked what we can only deduce was a Snipe about 20 feet away (all eyes were on the Harrier), but large numbers of Lapwing and Teal as it skimmed over the Marshland. From here we also saw large numbers of passing Brent Geese. A Sparrowhawk also made a couple of very brief appearances just before and after we left the hide. We made our way back to the car park passing through the nature trail where both a Robin and a Wren were nosing around in the underbrush. Also seen during the day but not mentioned above were Blackbirds, Shelduck, Magpies, Great Black Backed Gulls, Herring Gulls and Black Headed Gulls, and a pair of white doves.

An excellent day in excellent company with 46 spots.

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