May 092017

Stodmarsh in May – my favourite reserve at the best time of year – what could be better?  A merry band of seven met up and, despite the chilly weather, Stodmarsh once again delivered some great birds, although in some cases with tantalisingly brief views.

We started off in the wooded section and proceeded around the reserve in an ‘anti-clockwise’ direction (i.e. heading off towards the Marsh hide). We gradually tuned into  the singing birds : wren, robin, song thrust, blackcap, great, blue and long-tailed tits, goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch, chiff-chaff, Cetti’s warber (with our first tantalisingly brief view) and a possible garden warbler (note to party : could that have been our ‘mystery’ warbler?).  Then, as we moved into the reed beds, the songs changed to that of sedge warbler, reed bunting and whitethroat, with swifts (my first for the year) overhead and marsh harriers gliding effortlessly in the distance.

View from Marsh Hide, Stodmarsh (Paul Yetman)

A stop at the Marsh hide provided a welcome break from the wind and our thoughts turned to an early lunch.  A few loafing greylags, grazing Konik ponies and displaying lapwings were joined by our first hobby, flying in low and landing on a fence post where it remained for some time.  (This presumably is why it is more difficult to see these aerial masters when conditions are not great).

Hobby – digiscoped by Paul Yetman

As we left the hide, Hazel spotted some movement in the reedbed margins and there, seen without the aid of binoculars, was a water rail.  We called back to Peter, who had left the hide first and who had water rail on his ‘list of birds to see at Stodmarsh’, but it melted back into the reeds as he returned.  The challenge was now on!  Our spirits were lifted as the sun started to come through and the wind began to drop.  More hobbies, up to three at one time, were seen in the air as we made our way to the next hides and onto the viewing mound near the Grove Ferry end.

We picked up sightings of sand martin, a well-camouflaged snipe, grey heron, avocet, gadwall, teal, shoveler and a wood sandpiper, (identified after some discussion).  That’s the joy of birdwatching with others: firstly there being many eyes to find an interesting bird and then many opinions on what it is!

A quick visit to the Grove Ferry facilities – this is always worthwhile and not just for the obvious reasons!  We found green woodpecker and mistle thrush there

Mistle thrush – digiscoped by Paul Yetman

and coming back along the Stour heard a turtle dove purring and snippets of a nightingale song.  It is great to know that the turtle doves are still around here.

A pleasant stroll back along the river ending with one of those tantalising views of a kingfisher – this time Peter was happy!  Up the tower hide, for views of great crested grebe, common terns, shelduck and a fascinating study of a cormorant and an eel.  It was a very big eel, needless to say it eventually, after much effort on the part of the cormorant, ended up inside the cormorant, but only just!  Our observation was accompanied by a variety of eel-inspired quips.  All I can say is that I have a totally different theory of why cormorants stand with their necks held up and their wings held wide apart – they are trying to keep their meal down and telling their neighbours “it was this big”!

Our final teaser of the day was a brief view of bearded tits foraging at the reedbed margins as we made our way back along the lampen walk.

In total, 60 species were seen, heard (or had to be imagined!) and we went home with the sun on our faces and good memories of another great day at Stodmarsh.


  5 Responses to “Stodmarsh trip report”

Comments (5)
    • Unfortunately, our two main photographers were busy elsewhere and although I took my camera along, I was unable to carry my bins, camera gear and a backpack full of food / drink. Perhaps if you could have attended with your Nikon, we could have had some more photos to display on here.
      As an aside, it might have been better to say in your post ‘ shame that you couldn’t take any more photos , but thank you Paul for your good report ‘ ……… or words to that effect.

  1. Really good trip report Paul – wish we could have been there with you!

    • Shame that you and Ian couldn’t make it – would be good to see you two guys again on a trip.

  2. A great day out and 60 species was pretty good for the day. Lovely to hear the Turtle Dove and Nightingale on the river walk. Cettis, Sedge and Reed sang their hearts out and the sight of the Hobbies made our day.
    All seven of us spotted different species, especially the Water Rail , Bearded Tit, Hobby and hand rail ( sorry Peter, couldn’t resist ) The Snipe was a good find by Andy ( spotter of the day me-thinks ) The Cormarant and eel jokes were bountiful and Stodmarsh gave us plenty of variety. Thanks to Paul for leading.

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