|Posted on May 14, 2013 at 2:45 PM|
The weather forecast was for sunshine and showers with a blustery westerly wind and that proved to be spot on. I decided to check out Stodmarsh and Grove Ferry which I hoped would be heaving with birds and noisy with the calls of summer migrants. It proved to be the case though the wind proved an obstacle and many species kept low.
I called in briefly at Oare Marshes en-route to Stodmarsh but it was fairly quiet. Water levels were high and there were few waders or ducks; just a few Avocet, Oystercatchers and Lapwing. There were very few hirundines and no wagtails.
I pressed on and was soon parked at Stodmarsh and venturing out into the alder wood heading for the marsh hide. A Nightingale sang in scrub adjacent to the car park and there were plenty of Chiffchaffs and Blackcap singing in the wood. As I broke clear of the alder wood I could see that upwards of 200 Swifts were feeding over the Lampen Wall. As I stopped and scanned I could see several Marsh Harriers too. Then I picked up a raptor flying fairly low over the reedbed heading purposefully west and was pleased to see it was a Red Kite. For what it's worth I could see no tags but it's origin will no doubt remain a mystery. It flew off over the Lampen Wall and was soon lost to sight.
I got to the marsh hide just as the rain started and found Martyn Wilson and a few of the regulars. They'd seen the Red Kite and a Spoonbill flying west. The Cattle Egret, present for a few days now, was feeding on the meadow fairly distantly but giving reasonable scope views. No wagtails and no garganey! A Bittern boomed occasionally whilst Marsh Harriers regularly appeared over the marsh and reedbed. The rain was quite light and after a couple of false starts I eventually got away and walked to the Grove Ferry end catching a few snatches of Grasshopper Warbler song as I went. Water levels looked good everywhere and Harrisons Drove and the adjacent floods were no exception but there were very few birds with a single Ruff the best find. I scanned from the viewing mound but again few birds were noted.
I walked back along the River Stour and across the Lampen Wall. The sun shone, clouds receeeded and I started to get hot and sweaty in my now unnecessary coat! Turtle Doves purred (2), Nightingales sang (2) and there were plenty of Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins overhead. Reed and Sedge Warblers were common and by the time I got to my car I'd heard/seen 5 Garden Warblers. Hobby's appeared over the Lampen Wall and hunted in the same air space as c100 Swift.
Soon after 14.00 I got back to my car and after picking up a sandwich I drove out to Chislet marshes to eat it whilst scanning for raptors. Chislet is getting a bit too tidy these days; too may horse paddocks and ploughed fields and not enough grassland and dyke edges.
I'd promised to be back to watch the cup final with my boys at 5.15 and so I was looking for a last stop when I saw Barry Wright's "tweet" about waders at Cliffe Pools. I headed there and despite the onset of more steady, heavier rain it was excellent.
In a small area that long-time visitors to the site will remember as the "pipe pools", not far from the (now demolished) coastguard cottages was an area of shallow water that had attracted a ton of waders; 7 Wood Sandpipers, 7 Greenshank, 12 Grey Plover, 10 Dunlin, 38 Ringed Plover, 2 Avocet, 1 Snipe, 20 Redshank and a few Lapwing. I can't remember the last time I saw 7 Wood Sandpipers together in Kent!
Adjacent areas held Whimbrel and a few flew over with my estimate 20+ during my brief visit. Cuckoo, Stonechat and Wheatear were also seen and as I drove out I stopped to listen to the song of several Nightingales.
93 species today.
the meadows from the marsh hide
the view from Harrisons Drove hide
more wet and windy weather blows in
the River Stour
the main reedbed from the Lampen Wall