Everything was pretty much the same at Grove Ferry this morning with the pre spring dawn chorus filling the air as I made my way to the Ramp. Only two Ruff and three Dunlin there today but duck numbers about the same with 7 Wigeon, 2 Shelduck, 2 Pochard plus Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler and Mallard. Garganey should be any day now but, sadly none today. A couple of Water Rails were singing! as were 5 Cetti’s Warblers, this should rise to at least 40 over the coming weeks. Instead of doing the whole circuit today I only went as far as the Marsh Hide but came back along the back path alongside Newbons Farm and the orchards, spending a fair bit of time around the flooded meadows between Marsh Hide and Newbons Farm. There were 10 Marsh Harriers today with five leaving by 6.00am while birds were watched displaying over the reserve in the warm sunshine this glorious Sunday had brought to us.
|good numbers of Skylark this year|
The immature male Hen Harrier was seen again today flying past Newbons towards Grove and Skylarks were singing in good numbers (up on last year) as were Reed Buntings, Green Woodpeckers and a dozen Meadow Pipits. Five Grey Herons were noted during the day while at Harrison’s there were 3 Pied Wagtails and 10 Snipe with a further 12 Snipe at Marsh Hide along with 2 Little Egrets, 2 Green Sandpipers and 1 Redshank.
A Great-spotted Woodpecker was at Newbons as well as a singing Greenfinch with another Greenfinch in song in the Paddocks. Cormorants left the reserve in there hundreds while every other bush seemed to have a Magpie sitting on top, what with these and the large Crow population it doesn’t bode well for the small breeding population of Lapwings this year. A couple of Stock Doves were at Newbons and around about 9.00am I heard the explosions of the Richborough Cooling Towers being demolished but, because of a low lying mist, could not witness the event from my vantage point at Grove, end of an era/landmark and the end to the local Peregrines roosting place.
|One of nine Common Buzzards today|
Standing at a gate to the south of Marsh Hide a Brown Hare showed its face for a while and the first of 9 Common Buzzards over the reserve came through. The two adult Glossy Ibises eventually showed at 11.15am when I noticed them high over Stodmarsh lake circling then carried on high eat over the Marsh Hide and lost to view.
|two adult Glossy Ibises high distant and leaving? over Marsh Hide|
While scanning the skies for raptors a large amount of Black-headed Gulls came in to feed on the emerging insect life that the arm weather was encouraging and although there must have been upwards of 250 birds I could not locate any Meds amongst them so gave up and went back to looking for raptors. At 11.50am I heard a familiar call of I believed to be a Med, looking again through the throng of Black-headed feeding mainly over the Marsh Hide pools I eventually came across a smart adult winter Mediterranean Gull.
Raptor watching produced 10 Marsh Harriers, 1 Hen Harrier, 9 Common Buzzards, 3 Sparrowhawks and 2 Kestrels.
|adult female Marsh Harrier|
So after 7 hours on the reserve I headed for home via Sandwich Bay where the two Common Cranes were still present on Worth Marshes and a stop off at Restharrow Scrape produced 5 Garganey, 3 drakes and 2 ducks, also there was a 3/4th year Caspian Gull on the island plus 4 Little Grebes and plenty of ducks including Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Tufted. Now the mornings are getting lighter I will be able to get back to my regular pre 6.00am visits to Restharrow on my way to work with a chat with Dave Kirkaldie when he passes.
|pair of Garganey|
|3rd/4th year Caspian Gull|
|3rd/4th year Caspian Gull|