Saturday, 27 May 2017

Feasting on Common Terns.

I did not think I would be able to get out again until after our Welsh trip but I had a few hours free this morning (Sat 27th) and had a walk down the Lampern wall at Stodmarsh looking for Common Terns to photograph. I arrived just after 05.45 am but to my surprise I could not see any Terns out on the two Tern rafts on the main lake. I only stayed for half an hour as it was a little slow, two Cuckoo's seen but distant, 2 Garden Warblers heard and my first booming Bittern of the year. It only boomed 3 times, fairly distant from me on the Lampern Wall by the two benches, the Bittern seemingly somewhere out on Water Meadows between the river and the Marsh hide. Bittern's have been like Hens teeth for me this year. I stopped at the Grove end of the reserve on the way home and called into the Feast hide where there were 10 common Terns  (5 pairs) out on the new island in front of the hide. ( Are these the Stodmarsh ones ?) Every now and then they were spooked and got up and flew around the pool giving me a chance to use the camera. It looks like a few nest site are being scraped out so hopefully they will remain in view of the hide for a while. A male Marsh Harrier was hunting out over the reed beds and a distant Sparrowhawk was seen over the river. Two Mute Swans were showing of their 3 fluffy Signets.

Nice to finish the day off watching Arsenal actually play some decent football and a much needed piece of silverware to end a rather disappointing season.

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.