Arriving ridiculously early at Grove Ferry just before 5.15am I was surprised at how light it was becoming at this hour. The Dawn chorus was in (nearly) full swing with Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin and Dunnock all competing for the best song with Collared Dove, Woodpigeon and even Lapwing and Greylag all taking part. As I walked up on to the Ramp the first migrant was heard with a Sedge Warbler chattering in the reed bed just in front of the Ramp, a little later than last year’s first that turned up un 24th March. This was the first of 4 Sedge Warblers toady with 2 more along Harrison’s Drove and a fourth near the fishing lakes just before the Alder Wood at Stodmarsh. Only 7 Marsh Harriers were seen leaving this morning with no sign of any Hen Harriers but there were another 6 Marsh Harriers in the air in close(ish) proximity over Stodmarsh later in the morning. The Cetti’s Warblers certainly realise that spring has sprung with 12 singing males heard today and the mighty ears of Chiddy and Adam Faiers picked out a reeling Grasshopper Warbler along Harrison’s Drove not far from the hide (possibly the first in Kent this year???) Alan just catching a burst and me the deafo not getting a whiff!. A Bittern was heard booming very early on and a Green Sandpiper was seen in flight as we walked back down Harrison’s while at Marsh hide where Mr Ashton was in situ there was a Ruff and the first of todays 14 Swallows. Also at Marsh hide were, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 4 Redshank, 7 Wigeon, 1 Dunlin and few Snipe. Two of todays 5 Chiffchaffs were along the Boardwalk between the Alder Wood and the Lampen Wall and over the lake along with Swallows were 5 Sand Martins and 2 House Martins whilst on the lake were 11 Tufted Duck, 7 Pochards and 3 Great-crested Grebes. Only other bits of note were our first Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly near Feast hide late morning, 1 Little Egret, 3 Grey Herons, 40 Redwings, 2 Sparrowhawks and a male Kestrel although 2 more Sand Martins were seen from the Ramp before we headed home.Sunday 14th
Meeting Chiddy at the Grove entrance gate at 5.20 this morning we were hoping for the promised nice weather and a few more migrants to fill the reserve. Well, the promised weather never came and it remained very cloudy with a strong blustery west south west wind veering south south west by late morning, the sun did try to break through but at best remained a glowing orb behind a blanket of dense misty cloud. The dawn choristers were belting out their melodies as we got ready and a Woodcock flew over our heads from the Paddock, Rodding. Chiddy heard another, or the same moved, Grasshopper Warbler in front of the Ramp where yesterday’s Sedge Warbler was in fine song. By the time Sue joined us the Sedge and the Gropper had both shut up although another 2 Sedge Warblers were encountered. There were 6 Tufted Duck on the pool with 2 Shelduck, 3 Pochards, 6 Gadwall and 14 Teal. A Little Egret flew over towards the Harrison’s pools and 3 Fieldfare noisily chuntered overhead. Out of the passing Gulls 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls landed on the pool, a Peregrine circled over the Ramp and 3 Linnets flew out of the Bramble at the base of the Ramp. The approach to Harrison’s added a ringtail Hen harrier, from the hide there were 11 Teal, a single Swallow flew by and several Skylarks were in song despite the wind, no sound however, of any Grasshopper Warbler here though, a male Yellowhammer was in song by the ‘White House’.. At Marsh hide there were 3 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Green Sandpiper, 6 Wigeon and 5 Redshanks. Keith Privet and his dad entered the hide and informed us they heard a probable Wood Warbler at the Alder Wood but after a good 45mins to an hour spent searching all we came across were 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Treecreepers, 6 Chaffinch, 1 Wren and one or two Blue and Great Tits. The lake looked empty and the strong wind meant we gave scanning a miss and the river walk was fruitless as well although crossing paths with the Privets’ again they had added 2 Willow Warblers but, we had no such luck. The Oxbow still has plenty of lying water on it and there were 111 Teal, 10 Wigeon, 17 Shoveler and 12 Lapwings on it. I had a look over Collard’s on the way out and despite being buffeted by the wind I picked out a high Hobby over the industrial estate as it glided towards Stodmarsh and disappeared behind the trees, a quick scan of the lake revealed very few ducks except a few Tufteds and Shoveler but there were still at least 2 brownhead and one drake Goldeneye present. Only photo I managed this weekend was of one of the 3 Firecrests in the Elms at Sandwich at times showing very well and often too close to focus on.