Stodmarsh - 0930hrs - Cold, dry, sunny, n 2 - Together with Marshman visited a very muddy Stodmarsh today to get some piccies for an article on the Stour Valley, in what proved to be ideal conditions with bright sunshine. We started off in the woodland where the highlight was a flock of 30 Siskins high up in the alders, plus Greater pecker, Water Rail and Cetti`s Warbler. The open water in front of Tower hide held over a thousand ducks; mostly Teal, Pochard, Shoveler and Mallard with lesser numbers of Gadwall, Tufted Duck and singles of Pintail and ***** Duck, Little and Great Crested Grebe. Along the Lampen Wall we also noted several Marsh Harriers, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Jay, Long-tailed Tits and Bullfinches. Chatted to a local who`d just photographed 6 Waxwings near the reserve entrance. We had a look on the way out and around the village without success, although a nearby kale field held a number of winter thrushes and a Jay.
Grove Ferry - After a spot of lunch in the car park we set off for the long slog through the mud to Marsh hide; coming from Dungeness where I wear trainers all year it was a good job we`d put the wellies on. To be fair considering the amount of water on the meadows there were few birds to be seen. The flash by the ramp was birdless until a single Dunlin flew in, while from Harrison`s hide a lone Little Egret was the only bird. David Feast`s pool wasn`t much better with just a few Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler. Next was the slog through the gloop to Marsh hide where we eventually had 4 Water Pipits, 2 in the first field and 2 feeding amongst the Konik ponies, seen from the hide. The only other birds were 100 Lapwings, 50 Redwings and Fieldfares, 2 Stonechats and singles of Bearded Tit and Pied Wagtail. The walk around to the ox bows proved fruitless with only a few more Lapwings, Dunlins, winter thrushes, Green Woodpecker and Kestrel of note (the path here was positively hazardous!). On the return trudge we had good views of a ringtail heading to roost followed by, from the ramp, 6 Marsh Harriers doing likewise.
In summary, a tough old slog through the mud for little return, although the weather was brilliant and I got the piccies I wanted. Barney on the other hand was absolutely thrilled with today's excursion (and caked in mud) until we got home and I hosed him down in the garden... Not a happy chap at all.
ps: En-route to Stodmarsh we noted 6 Grey Partridges on a snow-covered field near Postling, a bird that is becoming increasingly difficult to find on the Marsh