Ten members met at the Grove Ferry car park. The temperature was in the low teens and the sky was cloudy but with some blue showing. It was agreed that we would walk to Stodmarsh car park for lunch following the central path taking in the view point and hides along the way. The return would be along the river.
As we crossed the road into the reserve the leading members saw a green woodpecker fly up. Walking along to the view point a lot of bees and wasps were seen on the flowering ivy. Those in the recent ‘know’ were happy to say ‘ivy bees’ (see Tuesday’s Cliffe trip report).
From the view point not much was to be seen but a snipe was briefly picked out among the many mallards. Chaffinch and dunnock were on the path up to the view point. A grey heron flew by and swallow and martin (house and sand) were flying over – this was to be a regular happening throughout the day.
Along the path to Feast’s Hide – those of a delicate disposition jump a line or two – some interesting poo was noted. It was wondered if it was otter spraint. More of it was seen along the centre of the path all the way to the hide. Sue did a google in the hide but memories being so poor Pete went back and took a photo. This didn’t really help much either. Again not much was seen here but gadwall were added to the tally. Onwards to Drove Hide with ruddy darter and a green-veined white butterfly being noted with a sighting of a hobby by John whilst the rest of the group was in the hide.
Onwards to Marsh Hide. Three buzzards were first spotted by Anne and a flock of starling and a pair of kestrel were seen. A large bird of prey was the subject of some discussion with the final decision being a marsh harrier. Marsh Hide had on offer more kestrel, buzzard, magpie and a further marsh harrier.
Finally it was the lunch run and we took the woodland path to Stodmarsh car park. This produced comma and speckled wood butterfly and a great view of little owl perched on the farm building just after the path enters the woodland section. You may recall we saw three little owl in the area on our March trip .
Lunch was interrupted by a pair of hobbies possibly chasing another bird or maybe going after the dragonflies that had started to appear in numbers as the day warmed up. Fully refreshed we started on the return journey.
At the Reedbed Hide greylag (our first geese of the day), cormorant, teal and lapwing were present. Of interest was the sighting of fins emerging and submerging from the lake, which were attributed to carp.
The path along to the river saw a great-crested grebe, great-spotted woodpecker, blackbird, wren with chiffchaff and robin heard. The old Tower hide has not been replaced yet but some pilings were in evidence that a new one may appear in the future.
The riverside path proved somewhat disappointing – possibly due to a few boats seemingly whizzing along. However, good views were had of a pair of kestrel over the reeds. A number of ‘bugs’, were seen on some nettles, which have subsequently been identified as late instar nymphs of Rambur’s Shield Bug by Malcolm. One of them is just starting to show the red on the head.
Cutting back into the reserve, along the central path, a comma in great condition and a willow emerald damselfly were found. A flock of lapwing flew by possibly brought up by a buzzard.
The poo conundrum may have got resolved as along this path there was some more, white feathers and a big gap in the reeds going down to the dyke. Was this swan poo? Does this explain the trail of poo along the middle of the path earlier as possibly made by a family of swans waddling along? There were many swans, some with families, all around the reserve.
Then along to the Marsh Hide and joy of joys there was a male kingfisher perched out over the water. After some time it plunged down returning with a fish. It eventually flew around and then left as did we.
Finally we stopped off at the view point again and a pair of snipe flew up, circled around and disappeared into the grass.
Over all it was a great day and 35 different bird species seen with the kingfisher, little owl and hobby being the stars of the day. Dragonflies were in abundance with many most likely being migrant hawkers.
Many thanks to those who attended for their enthusiasm and spotting skills not to mention stamina!
Pete & Karen Hall
Ed. Thanks to Pete and Karen for leading this excellent day out. If you would like to join us on a future trip, we are at Rainham Marshes on 23rd September and Dungeness on 6th October.
Our indoor meetings are restarting after the summer break, with John Lawrence with “Footloose in Namibia” on 13th September and Victoria Golding who will be talking about “Wildlife on your doorstep”.
All are welcome so why not come along and join us.
Full details of all our events are published on this website or can be seen on our programme; click on the link below: