Sunday, 1 March 2020

The Stour Valley list for 2020stands at 161 species so far.
Please send your sightings to

June 30th

It was fairly quiet at the reserve this morning birdwise but lot's of insects including a pair of Rutpela maculata ( Longhorn beetle ) and it was nice to see a Water Vole in the stream near the car park.    
(Bryan East)
Longhorn Beetle - Bryan East

Water Vole - Bryan East

June 2nd

The female Red Footed Falcon was near the Marsh hide this morning and 2 Red Kite's were between Grove Ferry and Sarre.   
(Bryan East)

June 1st

There was a Black Winged Stilt at Stodmarsh this morning, also seen were 1 Bittern,1 Red Kite and yesterday 31st May the female Red Footed Falcon at Middle Drove and 2 Turtle Doves and 3 Cuckoo

Had a quick look around this morning and found an adult Black-winged Stilt at the top end of marsh hide (Chris Doyle)

May 31st

What would have been the undoubted highlight of the past few days had it stayed around was the Squacco Heron seen by two lucky people (Steve Ashton and Andy Hills) on Friday afternoon. Instead we had to make do with Barry Wright's find of a first summer female Red-footed Falcon that showed well on Saturday but was much more elusive on Sunday. Other weekend highlights included a flyby adult Spoonbill and a distant Glossy Ibis at dawn on Sunday, 2 Crossbills east also Sunday picked up by the exceptional hearing of Brendan Ryan, 2 booming and one flying Bittern, the pair of Red-crested Pochards, 3+ Turtle Doves, a nesting pair of Spotted Flycatchers and a dozen Hobbies. There are now 18 Common Terns on the raft on Stodmarsh lake so hopefully they will have a successful year. The Little Owl at Undertrees farm seems to show more regularly now, Bearded Tits are starting to feed young and a male Greenfinch (a rarity now) was by Lampen Wall near the nature trail bridge. Oddest sight was 2 House Sparrows in reeds along the path near marsh hide, usualy only seen in Stodmarsh village or at Grove car park.

Bearded Tit


Brown Hare

Red-footed Falcon

May 29th

Went to Grove Ferry tonight and the pair of Red Crested Pochard are still there.Also i saw something you don't see everyday 3 young Lapwing's swimming from the middle of the ramp pool to the edge..

(Bryan East)

Swimming Lapwing Chicks - Bryan East


May 27th

Had a nice evening at Stodmarsh today with a Nightingale singing near Reed bed hide, a bittern was booming near the slag heap ( 7.30 pm ) something spooked the Common Tern's and i counted 18 flying and there were 3 Fox cub's playing on the path in the nature trail. This morning my mate Pete had 9 Red Kite's above his house in Sarre village.

(Bryan East)
Fox cub - Bryan East

May 20th

I did the circuit this morning and the Little Owl was showing well at Undertrees . A Bittern flew from the old slag heap over to Marsh hide area ( 9.20 am ) and apart from the usual there was 1 Little Egret and 1 Turtle Dove. A Small Skipper was also seen .I went to the Ramp this evening ( 7pm ) and there were 7 Green Sandpiper's and the male Red Crested Pochard.

(Bryan East)
Red-crested Pochard - Bryan East

May 17th

At Stodmarsh/Grove Ferry this weekend was another Red-footed Falcon, a female, seen by Richard Collins at Collard's on Sunday morning. Other notables from the weekend include 3 Bitterns (2 booming males and a bird in flight at grove), 5 purring male Turtle Doves along the river between the Paddock and the Jungle, the pair of Red-crested Pochards again from the ramp earl each morning, 30 Hobbies on Saturday, a drake Garganey and 2 Avocets. There are still 4 Lapwing chicks on the Ramp pool being guarded closely by the parents, plenty of common Warblers singing and a flock of 14 Black-tailed Godwits flew in for a short time Saturday morning soon seen off by the ever vigilant Lapwings. One or two Beavers have been showing each morning with one dragging foliage with it Sunday morning and on Saturday a Badger was seen running across the open fields next to the Ramp 6.45/7.00ish. Singles of Red Kite each day, 8 or 9 Marsh Harriers, a couple of Kestrels, Sparrowhawk and plenty of Buzzards kept the raptor list going, 9 Common Terns on the raft at Stodmarsh a couple of hundred Swifts on Saturday and a Raven seen by Dave Mairs and Gideon Saturday morning.

Bittern at Grove
Garden Warbler

May 11th

IIt has been a really interesting few days in the Stour Valley with the undoubted highlight being a second calendar male Pallid Harrier see by Simon Mitchell on Thursday as well as 2 adult male Red-footed Falcons. Today the 11th a not so rare bird but a mega for the Valley was a Little Tern on Westbere lakes found by Sue, only the second one in the past 20 years. Other highlights came with a pair of Spotted Flycatchers back on their breeding territory, a pair of Red-crested Pochards, Grey Partridge (getting extremely scarce) and Red-legged Partridge (also not easy) at Collard's. Also noted were 3 Tawny Owls, one seen near Trenleypark Wood, 8 singing Nightingales, 5 Turtle Doves (possibly up to 8) and a singing male Willow Warbler that has been holding territory for a few weeks now. The rufous, or hepatic, female Cuckoo was seen plus at least 4 singing males on site, 1 booming Bittern still performing, 4 Greenshank, a transitional male Ruff in lovely black and red plumage but without the 'ruff'. Two Beavers have been performing well over the past few days with the presumed pair 'kissing' in the dyke in front of the Ramp on Saturday morning also, a Water Vole still in the same area. The odd Hairy Dragonfly now on the wing, several Damselflies and a couple of Banded Demoiselles along the river while Butterflies included, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small and Large White, Small Tortoiseshell, Small Heath, Holly Blue and several Orange Tips and a Brimstone Moth was seen at Collard's. The Leucistic Rook also remains at Collard's.

Little Tern with Common Tern - Sue Morton

Red-crested Pochards in the early morning mist

Willow Warbler in full song

May 7th

I took a walk along the top road, overlooking Collard's, at midday on to the Bluebell woods and a Nightingale was singing away next to the road. I have heard this bird in the same spot for the last 2 weeks and it can be heard any time of the day. Most of the young Rook's in the rookery are perched next to the nest and ready to leave. and a pair of Yellowhammer's were near the Gorse bushes.  

(Bryan East)
Yellowhammer - Bryan East

May 3rd

The undoubted highlight of this weekend was the adult male Red-footed Falcon found by Brendan and Phil on Friday May 1st and still on show both Saturday and Sunday, showing very well on Saturday near Marsh hide. Also a corking female Merlin from the Ramp Sunday morning picked up by Tony Swandale. Other birds include a Grasshopper Warbler found by Drew Young, a booming male Bittern, 2 Turtle Doves, a dozen or so Hobbies, 1 Common Sandpiper, 7 Common Terns, 2 Little Egrets, 1 Greenshank, 4 Redshank and 8 Marsh Harriers. Warblers represented with Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Reed, Sedge, Blackcap and Chiffchaff. There are 12-15 pairs of Lapwing attempting to nest but face dangers from the multitude of Corvids and a couple of Foxes. Other Mammals seen today included  2 Beavers (one very showy), a Water Vole and a Mink, grrr.

Red-footed Falcon

April 30th

A few odds and ends from last few days.New for year Spotted Redshank from Ramp yesterday (29th)Ruff yesterday and todayWood Sandpiper - one today.Turtle Dove - at least one along the river, Pink-footed Goose - one Marsh hide on 27th Garganey - one Water meadows yesterday ( Phil)
Plus 2 Little Gulls Collard's on Monday. Pair of Garganey at Marsh Hide today as per Phil, Phil also had a Siskin the week before. 
(Brendan Ryan)

A strong westerly wind this morning at the reserve so it was a bit quiet when i went to the marsh hide with just a few Lapwing and 3 Gadwall. Linnet numbers are good this year with 7 seen plus the pair nesting in the brambles near the old cattle crush. 1 Swallow, 3 Swift, 1 Cuckoo and 2 Shelduck  plus a few Sedge Warblers were also seen. Monday the 28th was a better day with 8 Common Tern at the lake with 8 Hobby above tower hide also 4 Redshank and 1 Greenshank. Also 2 Bullfinch, 2 Cuckoo, 3 Swift and a pair of Mute Swan's with 8 Cygnet's.   
(Bryan East)
Greenshank - Bryan East

April 26th

Not long after arriving at Grove Ferry Saturday morning (5.00am) the first Turtle Dove of the year was gently purring from within the Paddock but not later in the morning. Similar on Sunday when the Turtle Dove was last heard Purring at 5.25 and not again all morning. Most of the duck numbers are now greatly reduced and where Shoveler numbers were around 170 they now stand at less than 30 birds, most of the common Migrants are now in with Lesser Whitethroats arriving this past week and Brendan had 6 Little Gulls at Collard's on Friday (24th). New in on Sunday and new for the year were 3 Wood Sandpipers from the Ramp. No sooner they arrived the local Lapwings chased them out and they disappeared up the valley. There 4 Common Terns on the raft at Stodmarsh lake with 5 at Collard's, 2 male White Wagtails near Marsh hide, 2 Mediterranean Gulls overhead a cracking male Yellow Wagtail flying over the Ramp and a Beaver in front of the Ramp 5.29 Sunday morning. Also 1 Greenshank, 4 Redshanks, 6 Common Snipe, 3 Cuckoos, 9 Marsh Harriers, 5 Hobby, 1 Kingfisher, 9 Common Buzzards, 1 Yellowhammer, 1 Corn Bunting, 1 Little Egret and 3 Swifts among the notables.


April 24th

April 22nd  Did the circuit this morning on a lovely hot sunny day. Birds seen today were 27 Mute Swan at the ramp, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Sparrowhawks, 1 Cuckoo, 7 Marsh Harrier, 4 Linnet, 2 Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 6 Wigeon, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 male Bullfinch, 1 male Blackcap, 2 Chaffinch, 1 Treecreeper, pair of Tufted Duck, Chiffchaff, 3 Common Tern, 6 Swift, 1 Goldfinch, 2 Bearded Tit and plenty Sedge Warblers and Cetti's Warblers calling. There was a Common Darter near the Alder wood and elsewhere 10 Peacock ,6 Small White, 2 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 Orange Tip.   This morning April 24th, there were 23 Mute Swan, 1 Snipe, 3 Pochard, 2 Shelduck and a pair of Grey Lags with 4 Goslings at the ramp, on my way around the reserve i saw 7 Linnet's, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Redshank, 3 Gadwall, 2 Cuckoo, 6 Marsh Harrier, 1 Common Buzzard, 4 Common Tern, 2 male Blackcap's, plenty Sedge and Cetti's Warbler 2 young Marsh Frog's and 5 Mallard duckling's.

(Bryan East)

April 20th

Saturday was extremely wet with a blustery east north east wind lightning and claps of thunder one of which put every bird in to the air. Sunday was very sunny but with a chilly north east wind. The better of the two days was the wet and windy one! Two Nightingales in partial song were noted, Reed and Sedge Warblers now everywhere, at leas 4 Whitethroats and still several singing Chiffchaffs and Cetti's Warblers. There were 2 Common Sandpipers at the Ramp which were new for the year plus 3 Black-tailed Godwits (4 on Sunday). At least 2 calling Cuckoo's, 4 Redshanks, 1 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpipers and a Flyby drake Mandarin (nfy) at Stodmarsh lake. Also over the lake were 60+ of each Sand Martin and Swallow plus 1 Swift (nfy) and 1 House Martin. There were 3 Swifts present on Sunday. Just before the heavy rain 12 Whimbrels (nfy) passed over to the east, first a group of four then a flock of eight. Nine Marsh Harriers, 6 Common Buzzards, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk and 1 Hobby as well as 3 Wheatears in fields between middle Drove and Marsh hide one a fine male. Sue had a Common Tern at Westbere Sunday morning, also new for the year. Also of note on Sunday morning there were 3 Beavers present. Today (20th) Sue had a Black Tern (new for year) and 3 Common Terns at Westbere.

Hobby on Sunday morning

April 17th

Added to the valley list today by Brendan were Osprey, Wheatear and Garden Warbler while Tony Swandale had 3 Ring Ouzels near Blue Bridge.

I did the circuit again this morning and it was very much like yesterday ( minus the Cuckoo ) there were 3 Black Tailed Godwit and 2 Shelduck at the ramp.At Marsh hide were 4 Wigeon, 2 male and 2 female, 3 Green Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 2 Gadwall and a calling Redshank. There were 2 Small White,19 Peacock, 1 Orange Tip and a nice male Brimstone. In a hole in the barn was a Little Owl. (Bryan East)

Little Owl - Bryan East

April 15th

As well as Bryan sightings below Brendan today had House Martin and Yellow Wagtail new for the year as well as 10 Green Sandpipers and 33 singing/calling Water Rails.

With the other half having to do her NHS work from home and the air turning blue 'cause the internet keeps dropping out every 20 minutes i legged it to the reserve for some sanity, it was a lovely warm sunny morning and  again i had the whole reserve to myself. The ramp had just 1 Little Egret, 2 Shelduck and some Teal and Shoveller. As i approached David Feast hide area i saw a pair of Marsh Harrier's food passing and the female then dropped in the reed's farthest from the hide, despite all the hides being shut there was still a lot to be seen and heard with 6 Linnet's near the metal bridge,1 Swallow, 2 Common Buzzard, 3 Kestrel and 2 Skylark. There were Reed Bunting everywhere and the path from the cattle crush to Marsh hide was alive with Sedge Warblers with 1 Reed Warbler seen.. From the path i could just see the far pools at Marsh hide and there was 1 Green Sandpiper and 1 Greenshank. Nearing the Alder wood i heard a Cuckoo and a Nightingale calling briefly. One of the friendly robins approached me on the bridge in the Alder wood but i forgot to bring some feed ( next time) there was also a Stock dove there. Not much on the lake today apart from 1 Shelduck near Reedbed hide Some idiot's had lit a large fire on the path in front of Basil's bench with beer cans thrown every where and silver paint on part of his bench.Very little along the river but all in all a lovely morning stroll.                                                                                                                                       (Bryan East                                                                                            

Sedge Warbler - Bryan East

April 12th

Weekend news included lots of singing birds with 16 Cetti's Warblers, 30 Sedge Warblers, 18 Chiffchaffs, 23 Skylarks and Reed Buntings everywhere, The odd Reed Warbler and Common Whitethroat now starting to show up. 

Avocets and Little Egret

There were 4 Avocet present on Saturday as well as 5 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Redshank and 2 Green Sandpipers plus, new for the year, a flyover Little-ringed Plover. There were 2 booming male Bitterns on Sunday and a very nice male Brambling along the Lampen Wall. 

There were also 2 Little Egrets, 1 Great-white Egret, 4 Bearded Tits, 4 Water Pipits, 6 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing and several Blackcaps. Mammals included Fox, Beaver, Water Vole and a dead Pipistrelle Bat.
Dead Pipistrelle

April 8th

While the only new addition to the Valley list at the weekend was Willow Warbler there were 5 Avocet from the Ramp, 8 Water Pipits at the Water Meadows, 2 possibly 3 singing Sedge Warblers, a booming male Bittern, a fly through adult Red Kite and a single calling Redshank. Plus a calling Long-eared Owl and 3 Swallows. On the 8th Sue added Canada Goose when 7 landed on the lake in front of her house and Brendan added Hobby, Reed Warbler and Common Whitethroat  on his cycle ride.

Avocet with Teal


April 4th

Recent additions from Sue and Brendan are Swallow and Red Kite (Sue) and Sedge Warbler (Brendan) taking the total slowly to 114 

April 1st

I had a quick look at the ramp pool this morning and there were 22 Black Tailed Godwit's and 4 Shelduck and i had the place to myself which was great.

(Bryan East)

Black-tailed Godwit - Bryan East

Black-tailed Godwit - Bryan East

March 25th

The car park at Stodmarsh is now closed because of this virus but the reserve itself is still open for the time being. Taking every precaution, nitrile gloves and bacterial wipes, i did the circuit this morning as my daily exercise and had the reserve to myself apart from a dog walker and another birder. Marsh hide was busy again with a female Ruddy Shelduck with 2 Shelduck's and the usual Teal, Shoveller, Gadwall and Tufted Duck. Also 3 Snipe and 1 Little Egret. There were 2 Shelduck on the lake. 5 Marsh Harrier's 1 Kestrel and 1 Common Buzzard plus 1 Fox were also seen.

(Bryan East) 

Ruddy Shelduck - Bryan East

Dunlin - Bryan East

March 23rd

Went to the Marsh hide this morning and had to smile as a Little Egret kept approaching the Grey Lag Goose sitting on it's nest on the small island, after being chased away for the third time the goose let the Egret stay while it preened it's self. It has been quite busy at the hide recently with 2 Green Sandpiper's flying in, joining the Lapwing's and the usual duck's. 

(Bryan East) 

Little Egret - Bryan East

March 21st/22nd

A weekend visit to the Stodmarsh National Nature reserve in rather cold east north easterly winds was quite raw but at least the sun shone. Highlights include a pair of Egyptian Geese chasing a Shelduck over Feast pool then disappearing up the valley. A male Blackcap along the Grove entrance track in part song and a pair of adult summer Mediterranean Gulls on the fields at Collard's. Also 3 Ruff flying through Middle Drove towards Harrison's 14 Sand Martins at Westbere and a brief pair of Greenfinhes (very rare here now) along the Grove entrance. Most of the usual and expected birds were present including Great-white Egret, 10 Marsh Harriers, 6 Shelduck 14 Tufted Duck a pair of Wigeon, Kingfisher, 8+ Skylarks, Sparrowhawk, 5 Buzzards and a pair of Bullfinches. The tame Robin still feeding from the hand in the Alder Wood at Stodmarsh.

Today (23rd) Chiddy discovered an Avocet on the Ramp pool.

March 19th

Took a walk to the Marsh hide from the Stodmarsh end this morning and there were 50+ Grey Lag's in the field opposite the car park. At the hide were 16 Mute Swan, Gadwall ( 3 pairs ),Tufted Duck ( 1 pair ), Shoveller, Teal, 9 Lapwing and 1 male Sparrowhawk .A Grey Lag is building a nest on the small island in front of the hide. Ben saw a male Hen Harrier 6.25 am and Michael had a pair of Gargany at Reed bed hide yesterday morning also there are now 11 Belted Galloway's as a new calf was born on Tuesday

(Bryan East)

March 15th 

Another weekend of strong wind and drizzly weather making any birding hard work. Duck numbers are dropping as are the Greylags but nothing new is coming through. Highlights on Saturday were 4 Kingfishers, 3 seen at Feast hide, a dozen Marsh Harriers, 6 Shelduck and a Great-white Egret happily downing large Pike, of the two it caught while we were watching the second (Jack) Pike was two times the length of the Egrets bill, maybe slightly more. On Sunday 7 pairs of Tufted Duck were present and, bucking the trend, 3 Pochard included just one drake. Three Water Pipits were present at Marsh hide and although we didn't see any Hen Harriers 3 ringtails and a single male are still being seen.

March 13th

It may be Friday the 13th but i had a lovely morning at Stodmarsh.  It appear's a pair of Grey Heron's are nesting on the ground at the edge of the reed bed near Reed bed hide. I watched some display behavior and attempted nest building and i must say i have never seen this before.I saw 1 Chiffchaff at the jungle and watched a Weasel for 15 minutes zig zagging around in the Alder wood.

(Bryan East)
Weasel - Bryan East
Grey Hero - Bryan East

March 12th

I went to the Marsh hide this morning from the Grove Ferry end and there were 4 Shelduck at the ramp. At David Feast hide were 1 pair of Gadwall, 1 pair of Tufted Duck and a few Teal. At the Marsh hide were 2 pair of Gadwall, 7 pairs of Shoveller, 3 pairs of Tufted Duck, 50 + Teal, 1 Cetti's Warbler, 5 Lapwing, 6 Snipe, 1 Stock Dove and 1 Great White Egret.  On Monday 9th March at Marsh hide were 12 Lapwing with 2 males displaying and 2 Redshank

(Bryan East)

 March 7th

At last a day without strong westerly winds and, or, rain. A nice light northerly breeze becoming more westerly through the morning but, nice and sunny. A perfect day for bird watching except, someone forgot to tell the birds. A very quiet morning with n sign of any Owls, no Great-white Egrets and no sign of any Hen Harriers, 14 Marsh Harriers did leave roost but were less active than last week. Small birds were also no as prevalent as one would expect Wrens and Chaffinches being the exception. Notable birds however were 7 calling Water Rails, 1200 Cormorants, 2 Kingfishers, 7 Cetti's Warblers, a Treecreeper by the Tower hide and at Marsh hide 14 Snipe and 11 Water Pipits. Also a male Greenfinch singing near the Boathouse represented the first for the valley this year, a full 67 days later than usual.

March 1st
The first day of a new month and with much better weather, albeit still quite windy. Signs of spring were in evidence with displaying and mating Marsh Harriers, displaying Great-crested Grebes and plenty of singing. Nothing new to add to the year listing today but still a few nice birds seen. A Barn Owl was hunting over the reed bed between 0600 and 0650, 15 Marsh Harriers left roost as did 3 Hen Harriers including the adult male. Cetti’s Warblers were more vocal today with at least 7 birds encountered and 5 very vocal Water Rails. Wrens appear to be everywhere at the moment and the Marsh harriers are very active. Small birds were much in evidence today with plenty of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Reed Buntings and Chaffinches seen and heard. Duck numbers appear to be dwindling with just 300 Shoveler, 120 Teal and 4 Tufted Ducks noted although, 34 Gadwall flew in bringing  lone drake Wigeon with them. Also noted were 1 Great-white Egret, 5 Common Buzzards including the one that resembles an Osprey (be wary of any reports!!), Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Fieldfare and of course several tame Robins. Also one Tawny Owl still making use of the old Woodpecker holed tree in the Alder Wood. Five Little Egrets were in a field at Cow Corner.

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