In recognition of this great day – and I’m sure you all join me in wishing the happy couple a long and happy life together – and the fact that my invitation must have been lost in the post, I decided to take a trip to Stodmarsh today.
A couple of companions made the day far more enjoyable, and we had a great day bird watching. Chiffchaff , whitethroat and blackcap were singing well (that comment reminds me of several recent reports) but today we were hearing reed warbler, sedge warbler, chaffinch, cetti’s warbler and cuckoo. We spotted a male marsh harrier, and in fact there was hardly a moment during today when there wasn’t either a male, female or two pairs in the sky. By 11.30 am they were joined by hobby who were stooping over the reeds catching st marks fly and the numerous dragonfly and damselfly, there were times when the sky appeared to be full of them, a great spring sight. Two swallows were collecting mud from one of the pools in a field, and there were house martins about too. Lapwing were displaying, calling and mobbing the marsh harriers, greylag grazed the fields so we decided that it must be time for our lunch too.
Greater stitchwort, red campion and cuckoo flower (ladies smock) were in flower both in the wood and along the side of the tracks with others which I do not have the skill to identify. The konik ponies were grazing the fields and had foals, the cattle had calves, and we managed to disturb some small frogs that were sunbathing on the side of a ditch. We also saw orange tip, red admiral and speckled wood along the way.
After a short stop we moved towards the river walk where we had been told there were 4 greenshank and 4 wood sandpipers, after being given several sets of directions we eventually found the correct pool and saw the greenshank. Further along the track and with grateful thanks to a couple of helpful birdwatchers the wood sandpipers were in our sights. Cormorants, grey heron, shelduck, mallard, teal, wigeon, shoveler, redshank and coot added to the mix. As we continued back to the car Paul heard terns calling above us and three common tern were feeding along the river. We later saw at least 8 on the tern raft.
Near the car park we had at least 3 nightingale singing we were also lucky enough to see them flying across the path several times so we all got good views with a little patience. At one stage I am sure I heard swift screaming overhead but I couldn’t spin round quickly enough to see anything, so that will have to wait for another day – perhaps tomorrow at Hothfield?
Thanks to Jeff and Paul for their company and to the happy couple – if the invitation had arrived I would have missed out on a great bird watching day.