Fifteen of us met in the Stodmarsh NNR car park on Sunday 27 May. The weather forecast earlier in the week had looked like there was the possibility of rain but the day turned out pleasantly sunny. We headed first for the Reedbed hide, then went, via the small woodland, along the lampen walk to the new tower hide and continued along the Stour river to Grove Ferry. We came back via the viewing mound, Feast’s Hide, skipped Harrison’s Drove hide onto the Marsh hide until finally returning via the south side of the reserve to the car park.
Between us we saw/heard at least 49 species of birds, plus butterflies, dragonfly/damselflies & various insects.
Bittern seen flying across the reedbed from the Reedbed hide and later a few of us heard a male give a few ‘booms’.
Hobbies – at least 6 perhaps 10 – hawking for aerial prey such as dragonflies and looking like over-sized swifts when seen first at a distance. We eventually got some smashing views of a couple around lunchtime from the Stour riverside footpath
Cattle Egret – a good shout from Ann that it was not a Little Egret – as it sat perched in a tree at the edge of the lake. Later seen again from the Marsh hide.
Common terns nesting on the floating platforms in the middle of the lake
Marsh harriers – a magnificent male drifting and hovering over the reeds, plus females and immature individuals
Buzzards circling high and a kestrel hovering – both on the look out for the next meal
Turtle dove was heard and see by a select few near the Grove Ferry end – I only managed to see the tree they were in a few minutes later!
Kingfisher was similarly seen by those that arrived first at the Feast hide
Sand martins – all seemingly heading west – had they just arrived? Swifts were flying high above us all day
Reed and sedge warblers, blackcap and garden warblers kept testing our bird song skills – at least we are all comfortable with the explosive song of Cetti’s warbler – we even got brief glimpses of the latter, as it moved to the next bush
Cuckoo was heard and eventually seen flying on a rapid sortie
Little owl made the final treat of the day, sitting in its ‘usual’ place near the farmhouse barn to the south of the return leg of our walk
My favourite non-birding highlights were the carp spawning in front of the Reedbed hide – my they are big fish!
Red and black headed cardinal beetles, froghoppers – all brilliant little creatures
Butterflies: Speckled wood, peacock, red admiral, tortoiseshell & green-veined
And the iridescent Banded Demoiselle and lots of delicate blue damselflies (Variable Damselfly identified from the photos below)
I finish with some photos from Steve and Maria to give a taster of what was a great day out, Paul: