Wednesday, 24 May 2017

More Cuckoo Encounters.

Not a lot going on with me at the moment, killing time before our trip to Wales next week. I have made use of the lovely sun filled mornings with a few visits to Stodmarsh, arriving as the Sun rises, staying until about 8.00am and leaving for work before many visitors arrive on the reserve. The Reed bed hide has had a single Common Sandpiper present on three of my visits (a record shot below) and the resident Heron continues to successfully fish the pool in front of the hide.

For the past week, there have been three Cuckoo's chasing each other around the trees that line the Lampern Wall. Having the reserve virtually to myself for an hour or so, I was able to get below their chosen perches and rattle off a few shots, making a nice change from the usual flight shots associated with this species.

Although looking up at them, (not ideal) it's nice to get Cuckoo's perched out in the open and not covered in foliage. Cuckoo's are one smart looking bird in my opinion, my favourite of the commoner migrants that visit our shores. I was also able to get a few images of them in flight, endorsing my last blog post title, "Cuckoo's, like Buses"

Hopefully my next post will have a few different bird images from our 4 day stay in the Elan Valley in Powy's Mid Wales. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Cuckoo's........Like Buses. (11/05/17)

A circuit of the Grove/Stodmarsh reserve last Thursday (11th) will not take too long to write about as it was very quiet. Entering the reserve from the Grove end, there was a Bullfinch along the entrance track and a Nightingale was singing from within the Paddock scrub. The ramp was all but empty, two Common Terns, a Grey Heron and a Little Egret flew through. A Common Whitethroat was in full song and a nice target for the camera.

The Feast and Harrison's hide were empty save the expected ducks alongside a pair of Cormorants (Feast hide) and I heard a Greenshank on approaching the Marsh hide but could not locate it. The Reed Bed hide held a Grey Heron and a Great Crested Grebe, the Nightingales were heard as was a Garden Warbler on the way to the hide. The distant sound of a Cuckoo could be heard from the direction of the river and what with Cuckoo's being very thin on the ground this year (for me any way) I headed off down the Lampern Wall to see if I could catch a sight of the bird. I counted 6 Common Tern's on the main lake, 5 Great Crested Grebes and just past the Tower hide the cuckoo was still calling from within a Willow tree. Soon after I got there, the Cuckoo was joined by another bird and then a third bird arrived and although the light was fairly drab under a greyish sky, I was able to get a few images as they chased each other around, oblivious to me standing out in the open on the path.

Not too much else I can recall, a couple of Common Buzzards seen over the old pit, 5 Marsh Harriers, a Kestrel and a Peregrine seen out over the Water (less) Meadow and another Garden Warbler as the path turns east along the River Stour at Stodmarsh. There were also at least a dozen Hobbies up over the reed beds from the Lampern Wall towards Grove.

Monday, 8 May 2017

A Red Rumped Dip !!! (08/05/17)

I was alerted to the presence of a Red Rumped Swallow at Grove seen by Mark Chidwick from the viewing ramp. After dinner I went to take a look and found Mark with Marc Heath, Sue Morton and Chris Gibbard. I stayed for an hour but unfortunately all the Swallows seen by Sue, Chris and myself were all common old Barn Swallows. I did get a year tick in the shape of a Ruff, seen feeding out on the mud and several times in flight as the local Lapwings chased it around the pool. There were quite a few Swifts present and a Marsh Harrier provided a good enough reason to have my camera with me.

Marc Heath manage a shot of the Red Rumped Swallow and can be seen here by clicking here.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Patch Bashing (Stodmarsh and Grove)

A week and a half of patch bashing which amounted to several circuits of the Grove/Stodmarsh reserve with quite honestly a rather poor return from the camera. For me the highlight was a rather smart looking Fox that trotted out from the vegetation to the left of the Reed bed hide at the Stodmarsh end of the reserve.

New birds for the year during the past week and a bit were 5 Swift's, (Apr 26th) seen out over the ramp pool from the entrance track at Grove and my first Hobby, seen from the Reed bed hide (Apr 30th). Yesterday (May 2nd) there were at least a dozen Hobbies hawking insects over the reed beds and a few record shots were taken although in truth they were a little too far out for photos.

Three Common Sandpiper's have been present for a few days, feeding on the pool's edge in front of the Reed bed hide and the Nightingale behind the hide has found a partner. There are now at least 5 different Nightingales around the reserve and my Cuckoo sightings have increased from one to three.

Other bits caught with the camera was a Tree-Creeper in the Alder wood at Stodmarsh, a Grey Heron fishing in the pool in front of the Reed bed hide and one of 8 Common Terns out on the main lake at the Stodmarsh end of the reserve.

I was sent a photo from a friend, showing a Beaver, seen along the River Stour at Hersden. It was on a small island by the gaps, a place where the bank along the Northern side of the river breaks, allowing entrance into the Hersden lake. I know there had been reports of a Beaver seen around Stodmarsh last year, but it is the first time I have heard of a sighting this year. 

Photo courtesy of Glen Cullis.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Sandwich and the Stour Valley

Sunday morning (23rd) was a morning of two halves. I went over to the Restharrow scrape on the Sandwich Bay estate where I enjoyed nice bright sunshine but very little to photograph. All I managed was a pair of Shelduck as they departed the scrape.

I quickly got bored and moved on, back to Stodmarsh where I parked up by the cow field above Collards and typically, in rather poor weather, dull and now overcast, the Cattle Egret decided to get up and fly around, fairly close to my vantage point.

With not too many work comitments at the moment, I walked the circuit at Stodmarsh on Monday (24th), the highlight whilst watching nest building by a pair of Marsh Harriers ( i say a pair but the male never contributed much at all) was a Little Ringed Plover, flying in and landing on the mud in front of the Reed Bed hide before taking off again just a few seconds later. What was I presume, the same bird, returned about ten minutes later, dropping back onto the mud but obviously not liking its surroundings as it was off again straight away, flying out over the main lake and was not seen again. I heard my first Cuckoo of the year and Sand Martins were seen, another year tick for me. The Marsh Harriers were a little distant but just about in range with a largish crop.

Tuesday (25th), I had a House Martin and heard a Turtle Dove in the paddock at Grove, both new for the year for me. Plenty of Common Whitethroat's are now in but I am still missing a Lesser.

Walking through to the Reed bed hide missing out the Marsh hide as it was undergoing repairs, I seem to of missed a female Red Footed Falcon seen on the reserve. I only learnt of its presence on my return home and hopefully I will be able to catch up with it tomorrow if it hangs around. I have not had a Hobby yet but that will soon change i suspect. The Reed bed hide was pretty productive during the hour I spent in there, a pair of Water Rails were seen, also two Yellow Wagtails were drinking from the pool, a pair of Greenshank were feeding out on the mud on the main lake and a Whimbrel dropped in for a quick wash and brush up. All of the above seen to the constant song of a Nightingale in bushes outside the hide door. The Whimbrel was a long way out but with a converter and reverting back to the 1.6 x crop of the trusty 7d, a few record shots were taken.

All in all not a bad couple of days, thanks for looking.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

A more than welcome return.

Wheatear's, smart in their breeding attire and a most welcome returning migrant to our shores. Over the Easter weekend, quite a few arrived and reports were plentiful as they were seen stopping off along the Kentish coastline, taking a break before carrying on to their breeding grounds further North and West. (although I am sure a few do breed along the North Kent shoreline) I was lucky enough to see 5 Wheatears along the stretch of coastline around Seasalter, 4 being Males with one flighty Female that I could not get near enough to get a photo. Waiting around the grassy area along the top of the beach by the sea wall, the Male birds would periodically land on the fence allowing a few images to be taken before dropping down to the floor again to resume feeding. A shame a few Whinchat's were not with them, or is that being greedy. 

Today, (Wednesday 19th) I noticed two Common Terns on their new purpose built Tern raft out on the main lake at Stodmarsh, my first of 2017.