Monday, 30 April 2012

A Wet Weekend


This weekend was such a wet one I nearly didn’t bother with a write-up. Saturday just three brave souls, Chiddy, Brendan and myself, ventured in to the Valley in the hope of not only adding a new migrant to the valley’s year total but also watching some avian behaviour on the two short days one gets between a heavy weeks work. Sunday however was just me that made it out. On both days the wind was pretty fierce and blustery from the east and lots of rain was falling but somehow we/I managed to stay dry. On both days there were 2 male Bitterns heard with one bird close to the path near Feast hide giving six very strong booms that you could feel resonating through your chest as you walked by. The second bird was the usual four boomer behind Marsh hide.
Grey Heron in the rain
Sedge Warblers and Reed Warblers were battling against the noise of the wind to mark their territories while Skylarks even managed to get airborne to sing their song. Nightingales were hard work with just 3 noted on each day and Marsh Harriers were late to rise with six birds seen. On Sunday a male landed on the dead bush beside Marsh hide in the gloomier early hours looking wet and bedraggled and even with the ISO on the camera set to 3200 I could only get a speed of 1/80th of a second.
a soggy male Marsh Harrier at Marsh hide 6.05am at ISO3200 

a soggy male Marsh Harrier at Marsh hide 6.05am at ISO3200
Approaching Marsh hide on Saturday I heard the familiar haunting call of a Whimbrel that was seen flying towards Grove and when in the hide another three were seen on the next pool over and in this very spot the next day the Valley’s first Common Sandpiper of the year was located. There were 2 Little Egrets with a third on the Lampen Stream near Stodmarsh Court Farm, 3 summer Plumaged Wigeon but no sign of them on Sunday, a single Hobby and feeding over the lake were several thousand hirrundines, there were House Martin, Sand Martin and Swallow in high numbers plus a good showing of Common Swifts.
soggy Hosue Martin sheltering

a rather damp Swallow Stodmarsh lake
A pair of Grey Partridges and a Yellow Wagtail were added at Collard’s while on Sunday other bits and pieces included, 1 Greenshank, 6 Canada Geese, 3 Water Rails, 3 Cuckoo’s, 46 Mute Swans, 22 Tufted Duck, 6 Great-crested Grebes and a Green Sandpiper.
Cetrti's Warbler avoiding the downpour

Cetrti's Warbler avoiding the downpour
I managed to catch up with a Garden Warbler today after Brendan and I missed the one Chiddy got yesterday on a detour to the toilets and, the first Turtle Dove of the year was purring away nicely just past the ‘Jungle’ where it meets the river, a usual first spot. There were 100+ Swallows and Martins today but only 6 Swifts were encountered and a nice male Wheatear was on the last pool along Harrison’s.
wet Wheatear
Today Monday 30th I was fortunate enough to get to see a very smart Little Bunting at Sandwich Bay on my way home. A new bird for me and a welcome addition to my Life/British/Kent lists. A big thanks to Steve Ashton for the updates and also for the use of one of his photos, cheers Steve.
Little Bunting at Sandwich


  1. it alright for some,missed it with a few others,never might still be there 2mos i hope chiddy

  2. Will all pay off in the end mate with a rare! Hoping to do an early morning bike ride over one Sunday morning for a dawn chorus, if this weather ever gets settled again soon, will let you know.

  3. Okay you've 'finally' managed to see a Little Bunting but have you ever stumbled across the rare and as yet unknown Big Bunting?? The Big Bunting is a birding anomaly seeing as it's only half the size of Little Bunting though it has a similar plumage. They feed on Snowflakes, pork scratching and baked bean juice which they lap up with their spoon type bill. Come back to me when you've got a photo of a Big Bunting ... I can see one now (inside my head) but haven't as yet deduced quite how on earth its possible to get an image of it??

    'appy 'unting ... Fripp.