It was back to the mundane today (Sunday) and a hard slog around the Stour Valley where the footpaths are becoming increasingly treacherous from cattle tramping over them and defecating everywhere added to the fact the a lot of the area is sub-aqua due to the persistent rains and high ground water levels. As I sat in my car listening to Richard Allinson on BBC radio 2 and drinking my cup of tea just before 6.00am a Woodcock came over the road from the Grove Ferry Public House car park area and dropped down by the footpath to the reserve parallel to the road. After a minute or so the Woodcock then took flight again and flew down the road and was lost in the darkness. There is now a very large amount of water from the Ramp but sadly the Duck numbers seem to be down with only 467 Teal, 4 Wigeon and 3 Pintail plus a few Shoveler and Mallard. There were also 84 Lapwing but, there should be a couple of hundred at this time of year. Three female Marsh Harriers left roost, 136 Cormorants streamed out and 48 Mute Swans left the back pools to feed in the fields behind the Boat House. From the Ramp I noticed the first 20 Fieldfares dropping in to the Paddock and by the end of the morning’s session at least 300 birds were present with more still arriving. There were also 140+ Redwings, a dozen Song Thrushes and at least 30 Blackbirds. A Kestrel was hovering over the footpath before crossing the reed bed as I walked toward the Feast hide, in the Feast hide the island was covered in Mallards while the pool had 12 Gadwall and 1 Wigeon on it plus a couple of Teal and a few more Mallards. The Pinging of Bearded Tits was heard along the path towards Harrison’s but they remained unseen and the pool from Harrison’s Drove hide was absolutely bird free, not even a Teal to look at. I looked across the fields behind Harrison’s and there was a small group of Greylags feeding amongst the cows and with these there were 4 White-fronted Geese and a single Pink-footed Goose.
The walk to Marsh hide was perilous and the cows tried to block my exit by Middle Drove but a “Boo” soon saw them off as they galloped past me, the only avian interest being the masses of berry eating Thrushes. Marsh hide, like Harrison’s, was devoid of bird life except a single Grey Heron standing in the middle of the left had pool while a walk through the Alder Wood produced just 1 Goldcrest and a few Tits. The lake at Stodmarsh looked completely birdless but I could see the Ducks were at the northern end and as I made my way there I met Norman McCanch just before Tower hide where we birded and chatted for a while. On the lake were 39 Pochards, 2 Tufted Ducks, and 18 Great-crested Grebes while the Great Black-backed Gull was again on the Tern raft and a Common Gull was in the water near the Ducks. A Little Grebe was over the far side of the lake although Norman had seen two earlier and a very late Swallow was feeding over the reed bed behind us. Norman and I went our separate ways and the river walk proved to be a very quiet adventure the only ‘stop in tracks’ moment was at the jungle where it no longer is, cut right back and no overhanging brambles to tear at your face. Cutting back from the river along Harrison’s Drove a Stoat ran across my path and I met up again with Norman behind Harrison’s hide where the Pink-foot was still present but there was no sign of the White-fronts. The drive home took me through Sandwich where I saw a late Whinchat at Dickson’s Corner but I didn’t visit the Scrape and carried on through to home.
|Whinchat at Dickson's Corner|
|Whinchat at Dickson's Corner|