26 December 2012
Stodmarsh and Grove FerryAfter all the Christmas festivities I really needed some fresh air and a long walk. I set off to Stodmarsh to find a near empty car park - great! First stop was the Reedbed Hide where I found a couple of other birders quietly watching. Nothing much to see, but Teal were clearly in good numbers as small flocks kept flying up over the reedbed as Marsh Harriers approached. I walked toward the Lampen Wall then through the boardwalk (a Long-tailed Tit flock and flyover Redpoll and Siskin) then out to Marsh Hide. As I approached a Bittern flew up from cover around the hide and disappeared into the reedbed behind the willows.
Having read a recent report of good numbers of Water Pipit I was hoping to watch a couple at close range to compare to the recent Buff-bellied Pipit in London. However other than a flock of several hundred Lapwing there was nothing on view so I walked to Harrison's Drove. I flushed a Green Sandpiper from the newly cleared ditch and a couple of separate Water Pipit flew over, but didn't stop. Harrison's pool held just a single Little Egret - no ducks, no waders, no pipits - nothing? Next stop was the David Feast hide where a shy Snipe sat quietly on the island, three Marsh Harrier gave good views and a Water Rail called. The occasional Bearded Tit was heard from the reeds before a female appeared on some reedmace and gave good views for a few minutes.
I walked to the ramp - there wasn't a single bird on or around the pool? Very odd. I then headed back to Stodmarsh along the river where the water level was extremely high; in places just 30cm below the bank. The water meadows finally provided views of two Water Pipit feeding in the flooded grass, but little else. The main lake at Stodmarsh was most productive with a huge number (maybe more than 1,500) Teal, plus Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck and a single rather dapper drake Pintail. I headed back to the car park enjoying further views of the Long-tailed Tit flock and a close Redpoll before heading home for the next round of entertaining. Nice to be out.