With the prospect of a much sunnier day with a light northerly predicted it looked set to be a good day for birding. Meeting Chidders at the entrance to Grove at 5.30am we took the short walk to the viewing Ramp where we would spend the next couple of hours watching, waiting and, of course, listening to the sights and sounds this pleasant valley Sunday would bring. A single Sedge Warbler was in song at the bottom of the Ramp and 2 Water Rails were squealing the morning in. Marsh Harriers started to leave their roosting sites with some leaving the reserve while others stayed and started their magnificent ariel displays with a total of eleven birds seen today.
A splendid male Hen Harrier arose from the reed bed just to the right of the ramp about 20 yards west of the picnic table at 6.20am and headed up the valley towards Stodmarsh. Chip Shop Chris joined us on the Ramp soon after and for the rest of the morning the three of us birded the circuit in a counter clockwise route.
Two Great-crested Grebes were on the pool from the Ramp as were the ever present 3 Garganey with the more commoner ducks including 2 Shelduck, 3 Wigeon, 9 Tufted as well as Gadwall, Teal and Shoveler. A single Canada Goose flew in from the Stodmarsh direction and whilst we at another part of the reserve a phone call from Norman McCanch informed us of an Egyptian Goose back at the Ramp, by the time we arrived back however, the Goose had gone. The songs of the birds filled the air with 4 Sedge Warblers counted, soon the place will be alive with them, many Skylarks, 27 Chiffchaffs, 14 Cetti’s Warblers, 11 Blackcaps and a whole host of other songsters including Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Dunnock and more. Bearded Tits are starting to make themselves known more with birds seen or heard at the Ramp, over Feasts pool and near Marsh Hide while overhead a pair of Sparrowhawks were displaying. At the Water Meadows once again the 7 Ruff and 1 summer plumage Black-tailed Godwit were present and at least 2 Green Sandpipers.
We had a Ring-necked Parakeet near the Water Treatment Works along Grove road early morning and another over the Paddocks late morning with 2 Mistle Thrushes along the riverbank. There was no sign of any of the Jack Snipe from Marsh Hide today although at least 14 Common Snipe were present, we couldn’t locate any Garganey here today either but there is at least 6 birds present. Some time spent back on ramp saw our only Kestrel of the day plus 8 Buzzards moving through although none seemed to be migrants, just local birds moving.
To finish the day I stopped at Collard’s lake to look for raptors and any hirrundines that might be feeding there as surprisingly, despite the better weather, not a single Sand Martin or Swallow was seen. No Little Gulls at Collard’s yet but, there are still Goldeneye on there and as David Brown and his family were watching from here I chatted and watched with them for an hour where another 6 Common Buzzards were noted but again believed to be local birds.