Stodmarsh is my favourite reserve, May is my favourite month to visit it and hence I like to volunteer to lead this trip. So when the promised good weather turned to a rainy, damp morning and a notice in the Stodmarsh car park announced that the section along the Stour was closed again, I was somewhat down-heartened. I should not have worried. Very soon we were having wonderful views of a treecreeper flying back and forth to its nest site in an old tree stump and searching for food items in the nearby trees.
We explored Stodmarsh along the southern trail that visits the Marsh Hide, Harrison’s Drove Hide and eventually ends up at the Viewpoint.
Along the way we heard and saw blackcap, sedge and reed warbler (more sedges than reed), saw my first swifts of the year, plus swallows and sand martins.
The first of many marsh harriers drifted overhead, a water rail squealed from the reedbed and several Cetti’s warblers were also heard. But at this stage it was still rather damp and windy and no signs of the promised hobby or bearded tit.
But the bird sightings and songs started to pick up. By the time we had reached the Feast’s Hide (aka the kingfisher hide) we had picked up:
chaffinch, chiffchaff, blackbird, wren, robin, dunnock, blue tit, cettis warber, nuthatch, song thrush, tree creeper, blackcap, L.T. tit, mallard, great tit, wood pigeon, sedge warbler, goldfinch, moorhen, reed bunting, Herring gull, reed warbler, cormorant, swift, coot, whitethroat, starling, swallow, crow, sand martin, marsh harrier, magpie, water rail, mute swan, green woodpecker, greylag, snipe, grey heron, kestrel, lapwing, skylark.
After lunch at the HD hide we watched three hares doing their mad thing in the field opposite.
We were then treated to some lovely views of male and female bearded tits and a cuckoo that flew straight towards the hide and landed a few feet away in the bushes behind. But still no hobby.
At the Viewpoint we added: great black backed gull, tufted duck, Lesser black backed gull, gadwall, teal and shoveler. And still no hobby.
We retraced our steps and then the sun came out. The wind quickly cleared all the remaining clouds, the temperature started to rise and then there was a hobby. And then another and another. We had four or five in the air at one time. One flew closer and closer until it was directly above us! The magic of Stodmarsh!
Our return trip also picked up a snatch of a lesser whitethroat, linnet, a green-veined white butterfly, a lovely garden warbler (another first for me this year) and a great crested grebe from the Reedbed Hide.
Thanks to Ian Griffin and Terry Robson for the great shots taken on the day.