Sightings can be Emailed to:
Marc Heath - Heathym007@aol.com
Number of species seen so far this year = 178
A couple of visiting birders from Lincolnshire found a drake Green-winged Teal from the ramp at Grove Ferry. This is the sixth record for the valley and the first since 2005. Fortunately it showed reasonably well most of the morning and most people who cared about such things were able to connect. I stated the day at Collard’s where duck numbers had reduced drastically. There were only 45 wigeon present compared to the usual 500+ and 84 Tufted Duck compared with a record 205 two days ago. Shoveler and Gadwall were similarly reduced. 440 Coot, 52 Pochard and five Goldeneye were also noted. Arriving at Stodmarsh, it became apparent where the Tufted Duck had gone with 191 on the main lake along with 326 Pochard. I was just settling down to count the vast number of shoveler when the text arrived and I had to scurry off to Grove. Other than the aforementioned Teal, Grove produced 2 Bitterns and the usual 2 Ruff. I wandered to the water meadows seeing 2 Little Egrets, one Glossy Ibis (the other bird was present somewhere) , 11 Whitefronts and 7 Ring-necked Parakeets.
Numbers of Aythya ducks continue to be present in record numbers with 389 Pochard at Stodmarsh and 255 Tufted Duck at Collard’s where there were also 13 Goldeneye including 4 drakes. Other duck numbers included 1070 Teal and 244 Mallard at Stodmarsh and a single drake Pintail at Grove. I caught up with the 11 Whitefronts on the main lake but failed to connect with the Glossy Ibis around the circuit.
I arrived at a windy Grove Ferry this morning at 6.45am where after a couple of cups of coffee I made my way up to the ramp. 1 Woodcock was seen as I walked along the entrance track and from the ramp in the growing light 8 Bewick's Swans including 7 adults and 1 juvenile bird were on the main pool until 7.32am when they flew off towards Sarre. I spent a few hours wandering on down to the water meadows where I met Martyn and we had a good chat about valley birding and what we might get next year. Martyn had already seen 2 ring tail Hen Harriers prior to my arrival and 16 Water Pipits on the water meadow area. There were still 16 when I counted but I'm sure there are many more hiding. The 2 Glossy Ibis were between the oxbow lake and the water meadows and were showing reasonably well, a few photos were taken in the dull and cloudy light of them before they flew off towards the water meadow. Other birds noted were 4 Cetti's Warbler, c300 Greylag Geese, 1 Peregrine was seen in silhouette over the main pool having just made a kill, 2 Shelduck, 12 Marsh Harrier, 10 Fieldfare, 1 Linnet, c500 Teal, c300 Lapwing, 4 Tufted Duck and 14 Gadwall. There were 2 Little Egret, 1 Jay, 1 Treecreeper, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Water Rail, 1 ring tail Hen Harrier, probably one of those seen ealier by Martyn, also 2 Bullfinch, 1 Pintail and 5 Long tailed Tit.
Golden Plover seem to have been absent from the Valley for the last couple of weeks but today there were three with the Lapwings at Grove and several others flew over including flocks of 9 and 70. Other than that it was pretty much business as usual with the two Glossy Ibis by the water meadows, 2 Ruff at Grove, 11 Whitefronts from the Marsh Hide. 3 Shelduck joined the 283 Pochard and 154 Shoveler at Stodmarsh, while a drake Pintail was present at Grove. 4 Ring-necked Parakeets flew high over the ramp and later seemed to have settled in trees along the river. At Collard’s there were 205 Tufted Duck and at least 7 Goldeneye.
The two Glossy Ibis were still near the water meadows early morning with the unringed birder-locating to the Marsh hide later. The only other birds of note included 305 Pochard on the main lake, 2 or 3 Water Pipits around the water meadows, 2 Ruff and a single Jack Snipe flushed from near the path between Grove and Stodmarsh. Earlier Martyn and Chiddy had 2 Hen Harriers leaving the roost.
Martyn was out with Santa and had recorded 2 Glossy Ibis, a Merlin and a ringtail Hen Harrier before most of were out of bed. Duck numbers at Stodmarsh remain high and Martyn had 315 Pochard, 216 Tufted Duck and 387 Shoveler. Armed with new non- leaking wellies and news of Martyn’s mid week sighting of Jack Snipe I spent the festive morning trudging through water logged fields in a futile effort to add to the year list. I did get 8 Snipe and a Bittern for my efforts. I joined Martyn at Collard’s where we had 5 Goldeneye, 132 Tufted Duck and 10 Pochard.
At Collard’s early morning there were 219 Tufted Duck, 11 Goldeneye including 3 drakes, 8 Gt-cr Grebes, 770 Coot, 2 Marsh Harriers and a Kingfisher. Next stop at Stodmarsh produced 1,580 Teal, 176 Shoveler, 290 Pochard and 34 Tufted Duck. The 11 Whitefronts were still at the Marsh Hide but I failed to see the 2 Glossy Ibis that Martyn and Sue had seen earlier in the morning. Martyn also saw the Merlin that seems to be wintering, although I have so far failed to catch up with it.
A brief visit this morning to Grove Ferry and the water meadows. Only Teal and Lapwings from the ramp and two Ruff seen in flight with the Lapwings. Checked the Greylag Geese in the fields by Harrison Drove and at the ox-bow (c250) but no sign of other species. The two Glossy Ibises were on the water meadows where there were at least four Water Pipits and one Little Egret. Glossy Ibis ring no: 04RX
There were two Glossy Ibis present this afternoon. They were feeding together on the grazing marsh & could be seen from the river path between the Oxbow & Paddy's bench. The ringed bird was sporting its bling on its upper left leg but with the sun full on the ring looked silver.
One of the Glossy Ibis's (no rings seen) flew around the reserve between 9.30 and 9.34 and appeared to land near to large house /red bridge, very little else seen 2 Bullfinches, 4 Cetti's and some Bearded Tits heard. The Pink-footed Goose was with 250+ Greylag's in field by the track to Frognall's Farm around 9.
An afternoon ramble round Stodmarsh in the gloom turned up no Glossy Ibis and relatively few birds altogether. A Chiffchaff appeared in the alders along with a party of Long-tailed Tit. Some 70 Fieldfare came over and a couple of Snipe shot up as I crossed to the marsh hide. Little was in view from the hide - a Grey Heron, 175 Lapwing and a single Redshank. Cutting back to the Lampen Wall along the river (I omitted walking to the mound), I had c250 Greylags and 11 White fronted Geese; a small, but resolutely snoozing bird may have been the Pinkfoot. The wetter meadows had a total of 19 Pied Wagtails and a little further on a Cetti's briefly called. Arriving at the Lampen Wall a little later than intended I missed the first ten or so Marsh Harriers - happily Chris Hindle was there to make up for my laggardly arrival - but had another 13 drop in to make a grand total of 23 birds. Sadly, no Hen Harriers appeared. There were 173 Pochard on the main lake but the a good proportion of the Teal and Shoveller flew before I could get an accurate count.
Today I saw something that I hadn’t seen for 27 years; 2 Glossy Ibis together in the valley. It would appear that the long staying but elusive bird has been joined by a second bird sporting a white ring. I picked them up in flight near the Marsh Hide where they had been spooked by a Marsh Harrier. Martyn had seen them from inside the hide and came dashing out. They appeared to land near Newborns Farm where we managed to relocate one of the birds later. Apart from the Ibis, there was little else to get excited about. Martyn had 22 Marsh Harriers leave the roost at Stodmarsh, while I encountered a single ringtail Hen Harrier mid morning at Grove. The Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Ruff remained from yesterday and were joined by a single Redshank. The 11 Whitefronts were still in the area and there were 17 Water Pipits on the water meadows. On the duck front there were 245 Mallard, 91 Shoveler and 279 Pochard at Stodmarsh. It was a bit gloomy by the time we reached Collard’s and it was difficult to distinguish all the grey distant blobs. Nevertheless we managed 26 Pochard, 5 Goldeneye and 85 Tufted Duck.
Female (well brown headed anyway) Goosander on the river opposite water meadows this morning.
Just a quick note to report 8 Bewick’s Swans flying out of their Grove Ferry roost site (07.20-ish) and heading out, along the Little Stour Valley before dropping down in the Westmarsh area.
I started at Grove at dawn hoping to catch up with the pinkfoot that Marc had reported during the week, while Martyn started at the Stodmarsh end. No pinkfoot but 8 Bewick Swan’s left the roost at 7.25am flying towards Stodmarsh. They apparently landed on the lake there only to return to Grove half an hour later flying out towards the Ash levels. At least 15 Marsh Harriers flew out east past Grove, but Martyn had more at Stodmarsh. I saw 1 ringtail Hen Harrier (presumably one of the two that Martyn encountered). Other birds of note at Grove included 680 Lapwing and 350 Teal. While walking along the river towards the water meadows to check out the geese, two ruff flew over just before a text from Martyn alerted to me to a Dunlin at Marsh Hide. It is a sign of the times that in late December I still needed this on my valley year list and I joined Martyn to rectify the situation a few minutes later. Other birds of note at this location were 11 White fronted Geese and several Water Pipits. Next stop was Collard’s were the following were noted; 9 Goldeneye , 149 Tufted Duck, 8 Pochard, 7 Gt-cr Grebe, 6 Little Grebes, 3 Marsh Harriers and 5 Grey Partridge. The Glossy Ibis was later reported on the pager at the water meadows.
The last day of term today, yipppeeee!!!! I managed to get out of work sharp today and arrived at Grove Ferry at 3.40pm where I spent 45 minutes at the ramp. The light was already going fast but I managed to see 10 Marsh Harrier, 7 together over Stodmarsh, 1 Pink footed Goose in with c100 Greylag Geese, 1 Merlin appeared to be hunting over Savi's corner, a year tick for me, 1 Bearded Tit, 5 Fieldfare, 1 Ruff, 2 Cetti's Warbler, 1 ring tail Hen Harrier showed quite well flying over the reedbed for c10 minutes hunting in the fading light. Also 4 Mute Swan, 1 Water Rail, 1 Green Woodpecker, c12 Long tailed Tit and 1 Little Egret flew towards Seaton.
A brief visit to Grove Ferry after work produced 8 Fieldfare, 3 Marsh Harrier, 1 Little Egret, 4 Eurasion White fronted Geese flew east, 10 Cormorant, c230 Greylag Geese, 2 Mute Swan, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Cetti's Warbler and as I left 1 Woodcock flew out of the paddock.
I arrived at a still dark Grove Ferry this morning at 7.15am where I wandered down to the ramp and watched from there until 8am. On arrival 2 Song Thrush were singing and 11 Redwing flew out of the paddock. Birds noted were 2 Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Water Rail, 10 Marsh Harrier, 2 ring tail Hen Harrier, 2 Wigeon, 2 Shoveler, 28 Cormorant, 1 Bearded Tit, 5 Mute Swan, 1 Black tailed Godwit and 2 Ruff. I could hear wild swans calling from the back pools and at 7.30am 8 Bewick’s Swans which included 7 adults and 1 juvenile flew high east. Maybe they had picked up the 2 Reculver birds with them. Other bits were c400 Lapwing, c300 Teal, 1 Pink footed Goose flew west with Greylag Geese, 22 Fieldfare, 1 Pintail, 20 Golden Plover flew high west, 1 Kestrel, 1 Linnet and c120 Greylag Geese. A late afternoon visit to the ramp produced 16 Cormorant, 7 Linnet, 2 Cetti's Warbler, c26 Golden Plover, c250 Teal, c400 Lapwing, 225 Greylag Geese, 6 Marsh Harrier, 1 Little Egret, c80 Fieldfare and 1 Wigeon.
I managed a brief 30 minute session at Grove Ferry after work tonight from the ramp. In quite windy and dull conditions I noted c300 Greylag Geese in fields along the entrance track and in with them was 1 Pink footed Goose. Other bits seen included 54 Fieldfare, 4 Marsh Harrier, 2 Black tailed Godwit, 2 Ruff, c500 Teal, c400 Lapwing, 1 Linnet, 1 Kestrel, 2 Little Egret, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Water Pipit and 1 Cetti's Warbler. A quick look for Woodcock at dusk proved fruitless but it was quite windy so that may not have helped.
I did a complete circuit of Grove and Stodmarsh this morning, starting at 7.30am. Good views of 2 Bitterns from the ramp and at least 4 Marsh Harriers emerged out of the reed beds as it grew lighter. A huge flock of Fieldfares were heading towards the Orchards just behind the reserve. Nice views of a Treecreeper at the Stodmarsh end, plus all the ususal ducks i.e. Pochard, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck. 4 Water Pipits on the water meadows by the river, as well as a Grey Wagtail and a couple of Stonechats. One Little Grebe on the river, plus 2 Bullfinches by the entrance track on the way back to the Grove end.
It was nice to be back in the valley after the autumns efforts at Bockhill. I started at dawn on the Lampen Wall and although the weather was excellent, birding was a little slow. Highlight was at least 4 Bitterns at Stodmarsh and another at Collard’s. I recorded about 11 Marsh Harriers although Martyn, watching from the Tower Hide had 18. Sadly no Hen Harriers were seen by either of us. On the main lake there were 80 Pochard, 135 Shoveler, 235 Mallard, 3 Shelduck, 320 Teal, 346 Greylags, and a drake Pintail. I walked the circuit with Martyn but apart from 20 Bearded Tit, 2 Little Grebes and 600 Lapwings at Grove there wasn’t too much to get excited about. Collard’s was heaving with birds including 7 Goldeneye, 196 Tufted duck, 72 Pochard,210 Gadwall. 380 Wigeon and 8 Great-cr Grebes. The hunt passed through late morning flushing seven Grey Partridge as they went by, a welcome addition to my miserable valley year list.
I saw one Water Rail on the boardwalk through the woodland, near the bridge; and heard another four birds calling in different areas – from the reedbed hide, from the beginning of the Lampen Wall, from the further end of the Lampen Wall past the Tower hide, and from the riverbank. At 2pm I saw the Glossy Ibis in flight over the marshes between the Lampen Wall and Grove Ferry, nearer the Grove end. I counted at least 7 Marsh Harriers at the roost, from the reedbed hide – five females and two males in sight at once. No Hen Harriers. I heard Cetti’s from the reedbed hide and from the Lampen Wall.
Fieldfares coming in to roost numbered in the hundreds, at a conservative estimate!
I had a brief visit before work to Grove Ferry this morning arriving at 7.15am in the hope of seeing the Bewick's flying out. Typically they didn't this morning although as I left at 8am I noticed 6 Swans flying east. They may well have been the Bewick Swans but I only glimpsed them as I drove out. I stayed on the ramp and noted 6 Marsh Harrier, 38 Cormorant, 1 Cetti's Warbler, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Black tailed Godwit, 2 Fieldfare, 1 Linnet, 1 ring tail Hen Harrier flew out of the reeds near the Feast hide, 2 Reed Bunting, 35 Greylag Geese, 2 Sparrowhawk and 4 Eurasion White fronted Geese flew east.
I had another early morning session this morning, arriving at Grove Ferry at 7.15am. I had barely walked halfway down the entrance track when the 6 Bewick Swans appeared from the back pools and flew east. That put an end to my plan of getting a photo of them this morning. I then spent some time from the ramp where I noted 12 Marsh Harrier, a few Redwing calling from the paddock, 1 Goldcrest, 56 Greylag Geese, 1 Shelduck, 14 Cormorant, 3 Pintail, 6 Linnet, 1 Black tailed Godwit, 1 Cetti's Warbler and 1 Meadow Pipit. There were c300 Teal, c500 Lapwing, 1 Little Egret, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Snipe, 10 Reed Bunting, 3 Fieldfare and 1 Bearded Tit.
I arrived at a very frosty Grove Ferry this morning at 7.10am where I spent and hour freezing at the ramp with also a quick look in the Feast hide. There were 2 Song Thrush singing as I arrived in the growing light and as I walked down the entrance track I though I heard wild swans calling and sure enough a few seconds later 6 Bewick Swans flew out of the back pools and flew east calling. It was still quite dark but a nice sight to see first thing. Birds I then noted at the ramp and Feast hide included 4 Marsh Harrier, 5 Redwing, 1 Goldcrest, 36 Cormorant, 1 Black tailed Godwit, 1 Fieldfare, 3 Greylag Geese, 8 Reed Bunting, 3 Cetti's Warbler, 1 Kestrel, 1 Green Woodpecker, c250 Lapwing, 1 Pheasant, 1 Linnet, a scarce winter bird here and 1 Corn Bunting. There were 2 Mute Swan, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Wigeon, 1 Water Rail, 4 White fronted Geese flew east calling and 2 Shelduck were on the main pool. I made another brief visit after work and by the time I arrived it was already getting dark. Birds I noted were 198 Greylag Geese, 33 Fieldfare, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Grey Heron, 21 Cormorant, 2 Marsh Harrier, 1 Water Rail, 1 Black tailed Godwit, 3 Mute Swan, 2 Ruff, c700 Lapwing, c200 Teal and at 4pm the 6 Bewick Swans appeared from the east and in better light I could see that there were 5 adults and 1 juvenile bird. They landed on the main pool but it was too dark for any shots. I then spent a few minutes on my way out looking for Woodcock from my usual spot and as it got dark 2 Woodcock were seen flying out to feed.
There was a Glossy Ibis just outside the recording area at Sturry on the river on the Fordwich side of the bridge opposite Mill lane this morning at 8.10am.
A couple of hours at Grove Ferry today (c10.30 - 12.30) in a penetratingly cold wind netted most of the expected birds. There were c300 Teal and over and 550+ Lapwing from the mound plus a supporting cast of a few Pochard, Tufted Duck and rather more Mallard at the Feast Hide. A couple of Marsh Harrier braved the gusting wind and a young surprisingly pale brown Peregrine buzzed the area before heading off to the north. Little was on show from either the Harrison's or Marsh Hide, but at the latter a party of 9 Water Pipits, which briefly showed above the more distant pools.
Highlight of a visit from 10.30 – 12 today between heavy rain showers was a female Merlin close to the ramp. Little else apart from 1 Hen Harrier; 1 Kingfisher, 1 Water Rail heard and c500 Teal and c1000 Lapwings.