This Wednesday the weather looked bright if a little cold – something we have not had the luxury of for a few weeks – and we decided to start off at Stodmarsh. The weather forecast had said an easterly wind would be blowing up the Thames, so inland was the order of the day. When we arrived at Stodmarsh the car park was full as a Penduline Tit had been reported there over the last few days.
We followed the duck-boarded path from the car park, where we had seen Blue Tit and Great Tit, through the cleared area and into the woodland. Having just mentioned that I expect to see a Treecreeper here, one appeared! Malcolm suggested that I reel off a list of other birds to see if the magic would continue. A couple of Robin cheekily begged for food and after some persuasion Irene gave up some of her cereal bar for the cause resulting in excellent views and photo opportunities.
There were many Blackbirds and Chaffinch, a few Wren and then Malcolm spotted some Redpolls high up in an alder, as we watched I realised that there were Siskin in with them. The Redpolls were delightfully coloured, one male in particular had a bright pink/red front and showed off really well in the shady light of the trees.
As we moved out of the wood we found a group of bird watchers and photographers lined up along the boardwalk, presumably waiting for the Penduline Tit to appear. We waited for a while, enjoying the Reedmace – it was great to see it in the sunshine as the seedheads were breaking up and clumps of seeds flew around in the breeze. and the sunshine, then moved off towards the main path. By now it was getting cold as we left the protection of the reedbed, so we scanned the water and found Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Coot and Shoveler. Sally spotted a female Marsh Harrier on the far side of the reserve, a couple of Greylag Geese and several Cormorant flew over.
We returned to the car park adding Long-tailed Tit, Great-Spotted Woodpecker and Dunnock. Malcolm also managed to track down a few galls including a Bramble Gall – perhaps he can tells us more on that one!
Next stop M&S for some sandwiches as Malcolm and Sally (how appropriate!) needed supplies, then on to East Blean Wood. As we lunched in the car we enjoyed the birds being tempted into the car park by the food on the fence posts. Robin, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Jay all enjoyed the seeds and peanuts.
We set off on a very wet route with a stick to help us vault over the muddy pools there was a distinct lack of birdsong. As is often the case, most of the life was attracted to the car park where food is provided. Blackbird and Woodpigeon were added to the site list and Jackdaws were heard well before we saw any.
Throughout the wood there were dormouse boxes and piles of wood and leaves at the base of the trees, presumably to offer more natural hibernating places for wildlife.
Over to you Malcolm …………………………