The Stour Valley list for 2021 stands at 167 species so far.
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Most of the areas on the Stodmarsh/Grove circuit that should be all mud are still little more than Duck ponds but, with very little Duck on them. The Ramp today for instance, had 1 Black-headed Gull, 2 Shoveler and 10 Coots! The wader situation remains a non starter with 1 Lapwing and 1 Green Sandpiper on any given day this week although, up to 40 Lapwings pass over on some days. This may be a no go place for waders these days but, however, it has become a hot spot for Egrets recently. Not only did we beat the previous record of 8 Great-white Egrets with a sighting of 10 just two days ago, today saw two records broken with 12 Great-white Egrets and 7 Cattle Egrets all at Stodmarsh. The best area for birds currently is the Reed Bed hide but unfortunately this hide tends to get commandeered by the Toggers who take up all the space and don't move from dawn to dusk and are quite rude to other visitors. If you can get in there are 2 Garganey there each day and an eclipse drake Pintail puts in a show as well as 3 Egyptian Geese.
A strong Westerly wind with rain first thing but clearing by 10 am at the reserve this morning where the Glossy Ibis was showing well but was a bit flighty, not settling for long. Not much else to report, just 1 Little Egret, 1 G W Egret, 2 Green Sandpiper and a few Snipe. With plenty of mud at reed bed hide there were no wader's at all. Quite a few Dragonfly's about mainly Migrant Hawker's and also 1 Comma and 1 Red Admiral braving the wind when the sun appeared. The mixed herd of cattle at marsh hide are still mingling with the Galloway's. I was told they should not be mixing together because of disease/infection possibility. (Bryan East)
If anyone still reads this then they may notice that not a lot is being reported. Sadly, the fact is the reserve has gone down hill so much it is almost fully bird less except, of course, hundreds of Greylag Geese and plenty of Coots and Mallards, and most of them as with the Geese have a big farmyard influence. Starting at the Grove end the odd Whitethroat and Blue Tit along the entrance track a bird free Paddock and then the Ramp. Up here the Reeds have encroached so much that the pool is more reduced in size, there is no muddy edges long gone is the once fantastic mud spit and the water level is so high it is nothing more than a Duck pond. Onwards to the Feast hide, a place where you would expect to see not only birds at close quarters but also the actual pool but no, a huge bank of Reeds right in front of the hide, an overgrown island and more reed islands blocking viewing plus, again no mud. We will skip Harrison's as that is a complete waste of time and effort and has been for at least 7 years! Sometimes there's a few birds in the fields and bushes between Harrison's and Marsh hide but often still and quiet, where at this time of year we should be getting double figures of Whinchat we are lucky if we get one or two. Now, Marsh hide, at the time of the Phalarope the water levels were dropping enough to let the odd Green Sandpiper paddle around without getting its belly wet. Two days later the water level had been dropped and there was at last some mud and on the 30th of last month there were 65, yes, 65 Common Snipe on this mud plus a single Ruff. Sadly however the next weekend, despite no rain, the water levels were back to higher than two weeks previous and not a bird to be seen. Watching anything from this hide is also very restricted by the bank of reeds directly in front of the hide windows and the pool you need to watch half obscured by encroaching vegetation. Very bird free from here to the Alder Wood and even the wood is devoid of any avifauna except maybe the odd Robin. The lake at Stodmarsh has Great-crested Grebes and little else and the Reedbed hide seems to be home to the Kent population of Greylag Geese. Once again a hid e restricted by overgrown vegetation and no mud. Yesterday this hide was full of very ignorant photographers spread out taking up all the viewing areas. Not one moved to allow any of us to sit down and to top it off, three of the group are pensioners and one is disabled and gets around with a stick. Then joy of joys when another togger came in after us one of the others moved over and let him in!!! Any reserve worth its salt would have started dropping the water levels towards the end of August, if not before, and cut back vegetation to allow passage waders to feed up and move on, no chance here. This weekend waders recorded were 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Snipe, 9 Lapwing and 1 Green Sandpiper. yet at this time of year in 2005 there were 900+ Lapwings, 14 Ruff, 22 Golden Plover, 3 Green Sandpipers,1 Spotted Crake, 1 Dunlin, 1 Wood Sandpiper and 1 Temminck's Stint. Also over 30 Bearded Tits which are pretty much absent now. In 2007 Waders were 19 Ruff, 14 Green Sandpipers, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 22 Little Egrets, 3 Greenshank, 1 Redshank, 5 Dunlin, 4 Spotted Redshanks, 50 Golden Plover, 1 Curlew, 2 Ringed Plovers and a Little Stint. in 2004 there were 2 Ruddy Ducks (remember them) 1 Greenshank, 10 Dunlin, 5 Green Sandpipers, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Little Stint, 8 Golden Plover, 7 Ruff, 1 Spotted Crake and 52 Bearded Tits. These are just birds present over the same weekend as this one back when we used to have decent habitat and most importantly MUD. Maybe its time to move on and find somewhere to watch were bird visit. Stodmarsh NNR is now sadly a very, very weak shadow of its former self. RIP Stodmarsh!
A Red-necked Phalarope seen at Marsh hide by Bryan East this morning.
A few sighting's from the last few days. This morning,24th, i was in the Reed bed hide when a large flock of small wader's flew across the lake heading for the hide, they were Common Sandpiper's and there were approx 30 of them, they tried to land on the little mud island but the 8 Mallard's already on it must have put them off but some did land, to the side. Also seen were 1 Little Egret,1 Great White Egret,1 Grey Wagtail,1 male Pochard and 26 Great crested Grebe including 2 juvenile's. Earlier in the week i had 6 Green Sandpiper and 6 Snipe at Marsh hide,2 Garganey at Reed bed hide, 2 Painted lady and 1 young Grass Snake.(Bryan East)
Garganey - Bryan East
Painted Lady - Bryan East
Green Sandpiper - Bryan East
Common Sandpiper - Bryan East
On my way to the Marsh hide this morning near Undertree's i had 2 lovely Fox cubs running towards me, they got quite close before scarpering. Only 1 Little Grebe chick seen at the hide. The weather was a bit iffy with heavy showers so not much to report
A fair number of fish at the surface of the lake this week, probably the lack of depth and oxygen. Mostly Common Carp. The Little Grebe at Marsh hide has been calling frequently and someone has seen one of the adult's with 3 chick's. 5 Hobby's seen yesterday and 1 Red Kite. Also a Norfolk Hawker which was nice to see and a Brimstone near the car park. (Bryan East)
I did the circuit again this morning and with no one else in the Marsh hide settled down for a few hours birding only to see a White-tailed Plover in amongst the Yellow Flags I managed to get a quick pic before a Lapwing bombed it and chased it off. It flew South and disappeared into the distance, I waited an hour but this Mega rarity did not return. Despite being very hot i did not see any hirundine's or Swift's, also no Hobby's which is not surprising as i only saw 1 female Broad bodied Chaser all morning. Just 2 Meadow Browns,1 Tortoiseshell and 1 Large White. The Little Owl is showing every day at Undertree's .Also seen were a flock of 12 Canada Geese and 1 Raven over Collard's. (Bryan East)
I'm a visiting birder staying with family in Fordwich for a week. Went for an afternoon walk out of Fordwich this afternoon and had a Honey Buzzard circling low over me at 4.45 pm not far out of Fordwich on the south side of the river. Very exciting as my first in the UK! It was just south of the lakes. No Nightingales heard yet, maybe we are a bit late, Lots of calling by Cuckoo(s) and saw one.
A Peregrine Falcon flew across the lake this morning which sent the Common Terns up from the raft. There were 2 Egyptian Geese and 2 Shelduck with the Sheep at Middle drove. At Marsh hide i watched 2 very plucky Coot parent's fending off a Grey Heron which was determined to take a chick, they attacked the Heron on and off for almost 30 minutes until the inevitable happened. Sad to see but the chick was dead within 10 second's of being grabbed. (Bryan East)
18th May Sat in the new Marsh hide this morning and it's a thumb's up from me with good view's all round. A Little Grebe was showing well in front of the hide.As the weather warmed up 12 Hobby's circled above and 1 Redshank landed briefly before being chased off by Lapwing's, not many Wader's about at the moment. May 19th 2 Red Kites flew over, South to North. There has been a Tawny Owl owlet between the car park and the Alder wood earlier this week but some irresponsible idiot's have been pestering it, a path has been trampled through the vegetation to the large Willow tree's it and a parent were perched..(Bryan East)
There have been 29 additions to the species list since the last update on March 2nd Spotted Flycatcher added today seen by Mel and Janice Fagg and Steve Ashton. There have been a record 6 Whinchats discovered on the 7th of May and some highlights include White Stork, Common Crane and a female Red-footed Falcon. There was an elusive Purple Heron at Westbere for a couple of weeks where up to 6 Wood Sandpipers were also seen. Other notable birds included Goshawk, 4 Redstarts, Ring Ouzels, Wheatears, Whimbrel, Little-ringed Plovers and Golden Plover. Plus the return of Hobbies, Common Terns, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Swifts and Hirundines. The ultimate highlight though, has to be a second calendar year White-tailed Eagle discovered on the 21st March, first picked up from the viewing ramp at Grove in the distance at Stodmarsh. A tense short drive around to the other end of the reserve and after a little wait the White-tailed Eagle was again seen and performed well for the rest of the day. With superb views obtained by several birders with high quality telescope and some very good photographs taken the bird was seen to bear no rings or any satellite paraphernalia and after contacting the Roy Denis Foundation it proved that our bird was NOT from one of the Isle of White re-introduction schemes and was most probably a wild continental bird. However, this excellent sighting has since been somewhat tarnished by at least 6 sightings of four IoW birds that are wholly untickable and rather spoils the enjoyment of the first bird.A White-tailed Eagle was also seen by Mark Mullen last week drifting towards Sandwich he also had a Red Kite and, 2 Cattle Egrets over the Ramp.
After being off-line for several months and not having a working computer I am now able to post sightings as and when they come in.Hopefully I will be able to a summary of all the sightings since the beginning of March to get us up to date
Very foggy at the reserve this morning but it started to clear by 9.30 so it turned out to be a good mornings birding with 1 Great White Egret and 2 Avocet's at the ramp along with 4 Shelduck, ( 8 ) yesterday and 1 Redshank. There were 2 Egyptian geese, 72 Russian White-fronted geese and 5 Barnacle geese at Middle drove and 1 Ring tail Hen Harrier. A few Skylark's calling and Lapwing's displaying.A couple of Bittern's were heard booming over the weekend and a Red Kite seen.. Yesterday March 1st i had a look inside the new Marsh hide while Steve and Ben were finishing off the path and screening and it is huge ,the new Reed bed hide is even bigger hopefully they will open early May all being well. were 10 Siskin's in the alder wood yesterday as well as some fresh Beaver gnawing's.(Bryan East)
New additions to the Valley list in the last few days of February included Curlew, Ring-necked Parakeet, Red Kite, Oystercatcher (a pair) and Red-legged Partridge putting the years total to date at 115. Other notable sightings over the weekend include 7 Great-white Egrets five of which flew over the Ramp directly over three lucky observers, and carried on out towards Sarre/Minster. Also 3 Hen Harriers included a grey male, 3 Sparrowhawks, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 4 Shelduck, 13+ Water Pipits, 3 Woodcock,13 Common Buzzards, 5 Egyptian Geese, 11 Marsh Harriers and 3 Little Egrets. Also the second Mediterranean Gull of the year, another adult and a lone Canada Goose (quite scarce in the alley these days.
In addition to the current 29 Pintail seen recently at Collard's and Westbere marshes and, the 4 Egyptian Geese that are hanging around, recent additions have included a stunning adult Mediterranean Gull and an adult Yellow-legged Gull as well as our first winter Spotted Redshank, a Merlin Chasing what may have been a Meadow Pipit and a Jack Snipe that was seen/flushed along the path between the Ramp and Feast hide. The year list has now reached 110.
New for the year in the last couple of days are Little Grebe on the 9th seen by Brendan on Westbere floods plus a nice count of 29 Pintail on Collard's. Also on the 9th Mark Chidwick had 3 Ringed Plovers from the Ramp and today (10th) Richards Collins had 4 Grey Partridges at Collard's, bringing the total 105
A few more additions to the year list over th past week have included a Glossy Ibis seen by a visiting birder on the 3rd, a Redshank on Friday, a very early?/Over wintering drake Garganey and a Blackcap on Saturday (the later in a Westbere garden, 2 Dunlin seen flying past the Feast hide towards the Ramp on Sunday and, today (8th) a Pintail on Westbere lake taking our total to 102 for the year.
There were 4 Egyptian Geese with the Grey lag's in the field next to the carpark this morning,t wo of them a courting pair. On the 2nd Feb there was a pair of courting Kingfisher's by the new pool near the old boathouse.(Bryan East)
Egyptian Geese - Bryan East
A good start to a new month at Stodmarsh this afternoon. The roosting Tawny Owl that Martyn discovered a few year's ago was very obligingly facing out of one of it's favourite roosting holes. The nature trail was opened this morning and the new board walk looks great, it will look even better when the vegetation grow's back, the lad's from Pilcher's have done an excellent job. The water level in the lake is the highest it has been all winter ,another 6" or so and it will be over the Lampen Wall. There were approx 400 + Shoveller and 100 + Teal on the lake also seen were 1 Kingfisher,1 Sparrow Hawk, 2 Marsh Harrier's and a pair of Tufted Duck. (Bryan East)
A few sighting's from the last week. On the 27th a male and ringtail Hen Harrier, middle drove/marsh hide area, on the 28th 25 Linnet's in the tree's going into the car park and on the 22nd 1 Dartford Warbler in the usual place seen by Richard. I was on the steps of the Tower hide on the 28th when i saw a large clump of reed's detach from the far side of the lake and with the very strong Westerly wind it ended up in the Willow's next to the Tower hide. (Bryan East)
I had an hour and a half at Stod this morning, a bit quiet, but lots of Teal ( ca 550) and Shoveler (c350), as well as five Marsh harriers and six Cetti's Warblers. Best of the lot was a pair of Egyptian Geese seen flying across the road at Grove Hill and heading down into the valley in the area of the Marsh Hide.(Norman McCanch)
I did the circuit this morning, very knackering with all that mud, and it was fairly quiet . I did see a stunning male Hen Harrier at the Marsh hide area which made the morning worth while. (Bryan East)
It was very mild this morning so I had a quick walk up to middle drove from the Grove Ferry end and the 2 Shelduck were on the ramp pool but little else. Nigel was clearing the ditch by the metal bridge and it had attracted 6 Grey Heron, 1 Cattle Egret, 1 Little Egret, 5 Pied Wagtail and 2 Grey Wagtail. One of the Heron's caught 3 Eel's within a few minutes of searching through the mud. (Bryan East)
A couple of hours at Grove this morning was pretty quiet with few small birds apart from a Cetti's Warbler, Stonechat and a group of 4 Linnets. There was a Great White Egret and 3 Shelduck from the ramp, along with 35 Teal and 15 Lapwing. A few raptors were around, 3 Marsh harriers, one each of Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. There were about 60 mixed Redwing and Fieldfare along Grove Road.
There were 4 pochard like ducks on the lake this morning what looked like 2 males and 2 females, i am sure i caught a glimpse of white on the under tail covert's on one of them could they be Ferruginous duck's ?. Unfortunately the light was really bad and they kept diving and popping up further away, i enclose a couple of pic's. PS there were a pair of common Pochard near them and the differences were very notable..(Bryan East)
Hi Mine and my daughters sightings at Stodmarsh today where.
1 robin, 1 Greylag goose, 4 mute swan's, 2 Marsh harriers, 2 grey heron, Shoveler ducks, Gadwall's, 1 Ferruginous Duck, 1 male and female Stonechat
(Mark and Daisy)
I did the circuit this morning and while counting the Shoveler's ( 408 ) i noticed a Bittern emerge from the reed edge opposite the Tower hide, i managed to get a shot before it flew back into the reed bed .There were also 6 Pochard on the lake. Not one goose in the field's at Middle drove but there were a few White fronts and a Pink foot earlier in the week. Another birder had a Raven this morning. (Bryan East)
1 robin, 1 Greylag goose, 4 mute swan's, 2 Marsh harriers, 2 grey heron, Shoveler ducks, Gadwall's, 1 Ferruginous Duck, 1 male and female Stonechat
(Mark and Daisy)