Apr 232022
 

Despite fears of traffic chaos on the M2 , which turned out to be unfounded, 8 members of the group managed to arrive at Stodmarsh for our trip there. Our targets for the day were spring migrants in the woodland and reed beds, singing hopefully, and hobbies and marsh harriers overhead. The car park is always a good place to start with blackcap, robin, wren and chaffinch all singing. We decided we would walk on the nature trail and then on to the Marsh hide in the morning, returning for lunch. Then in the afternoon we would walk the other side taking in the other 2 hides overlooking the large reed bed area.

The woodland trail produced plenty of woodland song, great tit, blue tit, chiffchaff. On reaching the bridge where paths diverge and where people like to leave food for the birds, there were plenty of tame robins and tits coming in for it. While standing quietly and watching Malcolm spotted a treecreeper , always a favourite to see as they can be quite cryptic. Moving along we were eager to see if we could find the little owl which likes to roost on some derelict farm buildings. At first, we had no luck but just as we were passing by there was a call that it had been spotted on the barn. It was so well camouflaged that a few of us had trouble seeing it still, until at last we did before it flew down and disappeared.

Before long we were hearing our first whitethroats singing their scratchy songs but still being elusive. Cetti’s as usual were very vocal and med gulls were calling overhead and then our first marsh harrier was seen over the reed bed. Now the test was, which warbler were we hearing in the reeds? Some thought sedge, others reed. Personally, I thought some of each. Arriving at the Marsh hide we were greeted by calls of “ hobby”. A single bird , fairly distant to begin with, was hunting for prey. As we watched it came closer and we managed reasonable views of this recently returned African migrant who only visits in the summer months. In front of the hide a few lapwing , teal, greylag , gadwall and tufted duck could be seen.

Thoughts of our lunch back in our cars made us start back but, ever vigilant, we added buzzard, kestrel, skylark, reed bunting and grey heron to the list. The day was becoming warmer after a cool start and butterflies were also on the wing with peacock and red admiral being the most numerous. Speckled wood was seen back along the more woodland paths as was orange-tip.

Back at the car park lunch was had and a song thrush was spotted, as was a bullfinch very briefly by Sue. A pair of great tits were getting rather agitated as we ate lunch. I think we must have been sitting too close to their nest site!

Fortified, we walked to the first hide. Here we had views of a tern raft, with at least 6 common tern either perched on the raft or flying close by fishing. Many shoveler ducks were in front of the hide as were a pair of Egyptian geese with three goslings plus, what appeared to be, one greylag gosling tagging along. We left the hide to continue on towards the tower hide. Scanning over the large expanse of water on our way to the hide we added great crested grebe and cormorant to our list. One thing I have not mentioned besides the constant calls of cetti’s warbler and chiffchaff the calls of marsh frog must have been one of the dominant sounds of the day. I think the warm spring sunshine had set them off in constant chorus.

It was suggested to continue for a short way past the tower hide to see if we might hear nightingale at a spot where they have been heard in the past. We had no luck with that particular bird, however it was at this point that a bittern decided to boom.

We made our way back adding great spotted woodpecker and dunnock to the list. And I almost forgot to mention the male reed bunting that we had seen earlier.

Thank you to all that came along. We managed a bird list of 53 in total.

Irene and Terry.

Thanks to Irene and Terry for leading and for the report. Thanks to Sue and Terry for the photographs and to Sally for the photograph of the marsh frogs  (in the Gravesend Canal)

 Posted by on 23 April 2022 at 9:55 pm

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