A trip to Stodmarsh this week with the usual Wednesday crew, proved to be a great success. The highlight, and the last sighting of the day, being great views of an Osprey hunting over the lakes, but more of that later.
The reedbeds which had been cut during the winter have regrown and bird song in the woodland was varied and surrounded us as we started out from the car park. Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Wren and Robin all sang well. A Great Spotted Woodpecker “chipped” in the background. The usual friendly Robins were not in their usual place – presumably they were too busy with their nests/young to hang about waiting for passing provisions.
As we emerged towards the wetland areas Sedge and Reed Warbler sang from within the reedbeds, keeping out of the windy weather. From the hide we watched a families of Coot, Greylag Geese, and Mallard. We had huge numbers of Swift feeding over the water, with a couple of Swallow and at least one House Martin joining in. Just as we commented on the lack of Hobby, one was spotted. Marsh Harriers were in the air virtually all day with a couple of females and a male hunting over the reedbeds and fields.
A Gadwall pair kept to the quieter waters, and several Lapwing were loafing around the muddy edges, a little too relaxed to be breeding birds we decided. Large flocks of Starling and Jackdaw were disturbed by the warden and colleagues walking through the fields. A Common Tern made regular circuits of the ditches and lakes looking for fish.
Wild Celery Apium graveolens (thanks to Sally for the ID) grew alongside the track, and a gall which grows on oak catkins was found, much to Malcolm’s delight.
We made our way back to the car for a relaxing drink before we started homeward. Malcolm noticed that the Osprey reported the previous day, had been seen again earlier today, so off we went to look for it.
From the hide we watched more Swift feeding and then in the distance Malcolm spotted the distinctive flight and colouring of a hunting Osprey – my first in Kent ever, and a real treat. We watched for ages as it was mobbed by Crows, soaring high over the hillsides and then returning back to hunt over the lake. A great end to a good day out.