On a frosty but sunny and bright morning 17 of us met up to see what was about at this lovely reserve. There are all habitats here but mainly reed beds and open water. We set off to the first hide and along the wooded path saw smaller birds feeding where the sun had melted the puddles and chaffinch, robin, dunnock and blackbird were turning over the leaves for titbits. Overhead a flock of gold finches were feeding in the alders. At the hide we saw about 100 cormorants mainly sitting in the trees with good numbers of teal on the water. A couple of marsh harriers drifted lazily along the fringes of the lake. Best was a water pipit feeding close by to the hide.
Retracing our steps towards the Tower hide we saw a number of smaller birds, blue great and long tailed tit, possibly a chiff chaff, wren but not much more. Swans flew in and settled on the water along with some shovelers and a kestrel hovered menacingly. A walk along the board walk through the wooded area added little to our list – regretfully no tree creeper which had been a target for some of the group.
As we walked towards the Marsh hide a sparrowhawk swooped across the path startling us, and also itself. It dropped its prey, a mistle thrush, and hurried off. We saw redwing and fieldfare in small numbers feeding on the abundant berries. A distant buzzard soared over the water.
Back to the car park for lunch through the other boardwalked wooded area saw one of our members trying to tempt a very friendly robin to take food out of his hand – but perhaps they need something better than a few crumbs!
Then on to the Grove Ferry end of the reserve where there were good numbers of fieldfare and redwing feeding in the hawthorns along with several blackbirds. From the viewpoint there were a lot of teal on the water but not much else. A visit to the adjacent Feast’s and Harrison’s Drove Hides was unspectacular, a couple of swans, a stonechat and nothing else. Returning to the viewpoint we saw marsh harriers coming in to roost putting up large numbers of ducks. A heron flew in and a lone snipe. Some were lucky enough to see kingfisher. Most interesting (apparently?) was the sight of 9 dunnock feeding on the path.
So although we did not see the reported bean geese, hen harriers and bittern we did see 40+ species. Once again good company and a really nice day made it a great day out. Just what we needed after all the shopping trips to Bluewater (well not all of us obviously!)
Happy Christmas to everyone!
Jeff and Wendy
Thanks to Norman and Terry for the photographs and Jeff and Wendy for the report. Nine dunnocks! I have never seen this many dunnocks feeding so close together – a veritable flock! Dunnocks, except duing the breeding season, are usually solitary (and largely sedentary?). So were they brought together because of a food supply or were they migrants from elsewhere? Very interesting! As were the 4+ marsh harriers flying in to roost at sunset.