Saturday 18th August Grove Ferry entrance gate at 5.00am and the temperature gauge reads 21 degrees c, it had reached 34 degrees by midday. Chiddy pulled up as I was putting my boots on and we wandered to the Ramp where, Chiddy in his Jimmy Somerville shorts was getting eaten to death by hungry Mosquitos. From the Ramp in the early light there were 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Ruff and 3 Green Sandpipers and as the light improved we counted 5 Garganey amongst the gathering Ducks. Soon to be joined by Alan Ashdown talks got on to the recent Great-white Egret sightings, found by Richard Collins on Tuesday this week it was still present the next morning and Mark (Chiddy) managed to make it his 200th patch tick. With no further news for the rest of the week it was doubtful whether it was still around although Mark had reports of it roosting in the Cormorant Trees at Stodmarsh on Friday night. Chiddy had to leave for work at 6.00am and with that Alan and strolled down to the Feast hide hoping to catch a Crake but, on entering the hide out in the middle of the pool was the Great-white Egret. It didn’t give us time to sit down before it flew out and over dropping in to one of the unseen pools at the back of the reserve. This will now be my seventh Great-white in the valley with birds in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and two this year with the first on the 4th March, a species now becoming more regular in Kent and perhaps will go the way of the Little Egret. Back on the Ramp we were joined by Brendan Ryan and the G-w Egret flew in just a after he arrived marking Brendan’s first in the valley for 22 years, it was chased off by a young Grey Heron and disappeared back to the unseen pools. Now joined by Sue Morton and Brendan heading of for St Margret Bay we travelled up river to the Water Meadows were there were at least 97 Greylag Geese present and in and around these were 2 Common Sandpipers, 2 Wood Sandpipers and 6 Green Sandpipers. A little flurry of 40 odd House Martins passed by and when we reached the lake at Stodmarsh the only birds of note were 3 Common Terns, a single female Pochard and an adult Great Black-backed Gull on the Tern raft. Just before we moved on I made a final scan of the bottom of the reeds on the far side when the Great-white Egret stepped in to view, walked across the gap and perched on a fallen log and started to preen.
|Great-white Egret far side of Stodmarsh lake|
From here on it was pretty much birdless although we did see 2 Hobbies, 1 Sparrowhawk and 3 Common Buzzards and at least 5 Water Rails were seen or heard. Chiddy re-joined us at Marsh hide and on returning to Harrison’s Drove we saw the Great-white Egret another two times in flight over the back pools. Brown and Migrant Hawkers were noted as were Common and Ruddy Darter and along the entrance track on leaving there was a Brimstone Butterfly.
Sunday 19th August and the temperature was a mere 17 degrees at 5.00am and only 25 degrees at midday. The Ruff, 3 Green Sandpipers and 5 Garganey were still present from the Ramp and at 5.17am Chiddy called “Bittern” as a bird took flight but it was in fact a Purple Heron that flew out of the reserve in the direction of Marshside/ Sarre penn. Is this the elusive juvenile from last week or a third bird this year? What looked like a dozen Little Egrets were dropping into a pool at the back but later as they left in two groups of eight following the path of the Purple Heron and more coming on to the main pool ended up being 26 Little Egrets, no Great-whites or Cattles though.
A Hobby flew pas a Little Grebe was on the Poll and yesterday’s 2 Black-tailed Godwits were now in front of Feast hide. The Water Meadows still had 2 Wood Sandpipers, 1 Common Sandpiper, 8 Green Sandpipers and a Greenshank and before we could move onwards Steve Ashton texted to say the Great-white Egret was at the Ramp. We headed back to Harrison’s after a quick phone call revealed it had flown that way. We did see it in flight a couple of times from here and again a couple more times when back on the Ramp.
Weirdly, a brief chat with another birder (Derek) friend of Steve’s said he’d had the Great-white at Stodmarsh in the area we’d had it yesterday only an hour before and with my suspicions from yesterday I now believe there may be two Great-white Egrets on the Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve.
|Lesser Black-backed Gull|
I have still been visiting Restharrow Scrape at Sandwich on my way to work the Duck and Geese numbers steadily increasing and the one Garganey was joined by a second on Monday morning but, by Tuesday morning the Scrape was virtually lifeless as it remained throughout the week. A Wood Sandpiper a couple of Green and Common Sandpipers and 3 Greenshank put in an appearance and on Friday afternoon as I sat in the hide Steve Ray text about a Pied Flycatcher in Middle Field.
I left the hide met Steve by the Elms and wet searching for the Flycatcher which duly showed and was joined by a smart Wood Warbler. Over the next hour the Wood Warbler showed well as it flitted about the trees but the Pied Flycatcher was not seen again. Toady (Sunday) I popped in on the way home and the Wood Sandpiper was showing well and a Garganey had returned. Also a Stoat was causing consern for the Moorhens and Coots on the far side this afternoon.
|There is a Stoat there... honest!|