Sunday, 4 March 2012

A Weekend of Fog and Rain

On Saturday I met Alan at the entrance to Grove at 5.30am and although a little foggy, it was not as bad as it had been yesterday (Friday), a distant Cetti’s Warbler called out as we put on our boots and as we approached the viewing ramp a Water Rail squealed from within the reed bed. A Tawny Owl called out three times while we waited from the light to improve and from here we noted Teal, Lapwing, Shoveler, Gadwall and Mallard plus, 3 Tufted Ducks, 2 Pochards and 46 Wigeon. Six Marsh Harriers were noted with a couple of small flocks of Fieldfare moving north and 1 Snipe, 1 Dunlin and 1 Redshank were all seen. The Feast hide added only another8 Tufted Duck and 3 Pochards and Harrison’s Hide was virtually empty as usual, save for 3 Teal and a Greylag. The Skylarks were in fine song, getting ready for the spring and as we watched a total of 49 Mute Swans leave the reserve they were accompanied by a party of 17 Bewick’s Swans. Down at Marsh Hide things are more quieter than of recent weeks with just 2 Little Egrets and 3-4 Water Pipits although A Ringed Plover was a new bird for the year and fly over Peregrine scattered the lot.
Male Marsh Harrier
Ben Ring joined us for a spell having flushed a Bittern on his way in. Back at the Feast hide we met up with Mr Ashton where we added Little Grebe, although Steve had seen four together and had seen a Bittern, 1 Sparrowhawk and from the ramp as we left there were 4 Pintail including 1 drake and 1 Shelduck.
Little Grebe


It wasn’t raining when I got up and made my way over to Grove without a hint of any water droplets on the windscreen despite the forecasters announcing the day would be a wash-out. As the light started to improve I could see there were fewer birds from the ramp this morning with 2 Shelduck, 27 Wigeon and smaller numbers of Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler etc etc and less Lapwings. It didn’t take long, however, for the rain to come so I made my way to the Harrison’s Drove Hide where I could get a more all round view of the reserve and still keep out of the rain. From Harrison’s there were 9 Pied Wagtails, several Skylarks in fine voice, 1 Kestrel, 1 Bittern and 2 flyby Tufted Ducks. At 6.45am I was watching one of the 6 Marsh Harriers I’d seen when I caught sight of a Great-white Egret flying east out of the reserve. It flew over the Boathouse and descended below the tree line landing in or around the Little Stour beside the pumping station 800yards east of the Boathouse. Although 46 Mute Swans left roost this morning I didn’t see any Bewick’s today but after deciding to do the circuit via the river which, was the lowest I’d ever seen it (must have been a very low tide) lots of muddy banks that are not normally viewable, I encountered 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 8 Ruff and 7 Dunlin on the Water Meadows along with at least 9 Water Pipits and by the time I’d reached the Jungle I added 3 Bullfinches, one a very smart male, and a female Merlin that flew through the trees  and out over the northern edge of Stodmarsh lake out towards Collard’s lake. On Stodmarsh lake there were 42 Tufted Duck, 20 Pochards, 3 Great-crested Grebes and a lot less of the regular Duck species. Nearing the Alder Wood a ringtail Hen Harrier flew over the Lampen Wall disappearing behind the wood while in the wood the only birds were a small flock of a dozen Goldfinches. Passing through the Alder Wood onwards past the fishing ponds towards the Marsh Hide a single Ring-necked Parakeet flew over scalding the air it was flying in while Marsh Hide itself had little to offer and no sign of yesterdays Ringed Plover. Arriving back at Harrison’s Drove I met Steve and Tim coming from the hide where they’d had a brief view of the Great-white, and we made our way to the Feast hide where again there was a single Little Grebe plus a few Teal, Tufted Duck and a Shoveler or two. I had a little wander back to Harrison’s Drove hide to see if the Egret was on show, it wasn’t, but the 8 Ruff and 7 Dunlin I’d seen at the Water Meadows were on the back edge with a single Redshank and as well as 2 Mute Swans, 5 Teal and 2 Greylags it is the most productive I’ve seen this pool since the work done last October. A look at Collard’s Lake on the way out held only 52 Tufted Duck, 2 Pochard and 6 Great-crested Grebes, not a single Wigeon strangely, while at Cow Corner there was a Little Egret and 2 Canada Geese and close by a very blue looking Pheasant.
Cock Pheasant in a dapper shade of Blue


  1. nice write up,not the only muppet out today then lol lol

  2. Great images Martyn, the Teal is a really nice capture. Sounds like a busy weekend.

  3. A good account as always Martyn.

  4. WOW!
    This pheasant photo is magnificent!
    It really deservers a price!
    Great blog and interesting pictures!