Fourteen of us gathered at the Stodmarsh car park and despite the odd shower burst on the drive over, the day was to turn out surprisingly calm and
mild. Due to the recent rain and snow fall I felt that the tracks along the river Stour and across the meadow in the centre of the reserve would be very muddy, so we decided to split the day into two halves and avoid the worse of the mud. (It would turn out to be less muddy than I expected).
For the first half of our walk we headed off through the corpse near the car park and on towards the Marsh hide, then retraced our steps, dropping into the Reedbed hide before returning to the car park for lunch. The second half of the walk we did from the Grove ferry end, taking in the ‘ramp’ viewpoint, Feast’s hide, Harrison’s Drove hide and returning back along the bank of the Stour. Please note also that at this time the tower hide has been demolished and is due to be rebuilt.
So what did we see?
Highlights included a very confiding robin, up to three little owls around the farmhouse on the way out to the Marsh hide, several fine goldcrests with flashes of orange in their crest, a buzzard doing an aerial ‘sky dive’ display – the nearby marsh harrier did not seem impressed. A common sandpiper, which after much debate was settled courtesy of retired RSPB warden Bob Gomes and became a green sandpiper! A splendid pair of treecreepers seen on the way back along the Stour and an early peacock buttery both ‘ticked the box‘ for Pete.
During the day we also picked up a single redpoll, a great white egret (from Harrison’s Drove), a couple of bullfinches in the car park at lunchtime (ok only two of us saw these – everyone else was too interested with the contents of their lunchboxes!). With spring in the air we saw displaying lapwings, we had some great views of snipe, teal and sholver – all showing off in the best finery in the emerging sunshine. Little egret, gadwall, great crested grebe, dunlin and a large ‘skein’ of cormorants flying high from the direction of the coast. From Marsh hide, three water pipits were working the ground around where the Konik ponies were grazing. Chiffchaff was heard along the wooded sections as was a drumming great spotted woodpecker. Overall, because our visit to Stodmarsh was earlier in the season than when we usually go, there were very few migrants or summer visitors, and, with the winter birds having departed already, it was the turn of resident ‘locals’ and a very fine performance we had from them with a total of 45 species of birds seen or heard during the day.
If fancy joining us in April, our next walks are on Sunday 15 April from 10am at Blean Woods RSPB reserve, near Canterbury, on Tuesday 24 April from 2pm at Riverside Country Park and on Sunday 29 April from 5am for a dawn chorus from Cliffe Pools RSPB reserve.
PS. If you are unfamiliar with getting to some of the locations we visit and own a ‘SatNav’ then Alan Else has produced a “Points of Interest” file containing most of the sites we visit. You can find both Garmin and TomTom compatible files on our outdoor meetings page.