I had every intention of getting up early this morning and popping over to Clowes Wood or Church Wood to look for Nightjars however, I didn’t wake until 2.40am and by the time I was on the road the dawn was breaking over the sea as I left Deal. I, instead toured the Valley roads for a while stopping at various place, driving down muddy tracks and listening out for any new list additions on this wonderfully calm still morning. Plenty of Reed and Sedge Warblers singing, the odd Cetti’s, a Cuckoo or two and several Blackbird and Song Thrush and the male Bittern booming every 5 minutes but, sadly, no sound of any Reelers, comb strokers, Owls, Spot Crakes or anything vaguely tickable. I eventually started to wander the Grove end of the reserve from 4.00am and it was nice to just have binoculars and not carry telescope, cameras and mountains of food and drink around. Still no sound of anything new but did see another Bittern fly overhead and drop into the reed bed in front of the Ramp, Reed Warblers were in fine voice as were Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats, a Hobby flew out towards Sarre at 4.10 and the first of five Marsh Harriers was up at 4.37. A couple of early Swifts were noted before I made my way along the river back towards the car to meet Chiddy for 5.30. Now carrying all the gear and joined by Bernie 75 of Deal we took a counter-clockwise tour of the reserve noting a drake Wigeon along Harrison’s Drove and 2 drake Garganey with a 3rd drake Garganey on the Water Meadows, Norman McCanch had a female there with the drake a little later. One Little Egret flew over towards Seaton early am and a second was in front of the Ramp and a total of 4 Cuckoo’s were seen including the lovely Rufous brown hepatic female. Other ducks included eclipsing Gadwall and Mallard, 3 drake Pochard, a pair and a drake Tufted Duck and the 4 Mallard ducklings from the Ramp plus the ‘white’ colour variant Mallard with at least 4 ducklings from Marsh Hide. Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs were singing and calling all round the reserve and there were 6 Common Terns, 5 Turtle Doves, 4 Greenshank, 2 Redshank, a pair of Bullfinches and 9 Great-crested Grebes. Non-breeding/failed breeding Lapwings are starting to build up with at least a dozen on the grazing marsh. A single male Sparrowhawk flew over the lake at Stodmarsh and a Bitter was seen in flight behind Marsh hide whilst the male was booming and while in Marsh hide there were two further sightings of Bitterns in flight suggesting there is a minimum of 3 birds, possibly four on the reserve. A female Bearded Tit was accompanied by a single youngster and a Common Buzzard was over the woody area between Collard’s and Westbere.
|Bittern at Stodmarsh|
|Natural England volunteer hard at it|
|Tip of a 17" Asparragus in the Elms at Sandwich|
|A Bee species in the Elms at Sandwich|
|A Richard Kinzler request for a pretty girl. This one with her friend on the Ancient Highway|