28 December 2014
The Stour Valley
With post Christmas fatigue setting in we desperately wanted a long country walk, ideally with a suitably located refuelling stop. We parked at Westbere and walked down to the Stour, then along the swollen river to Fordwich. With none of the summer's dragonfly distractions Mac was quite surprised just how quickly we arrived, it usually taking over an hour just to get to the river! The Water Meadows were very flooded and looked perfect for attracting birds, yet there was nothing feeding there. From Fordwich we walked up through Trenley Park woods, across the fields to the Stodmarsh road then dropped downhill into the Red Lion for a fantastic roast dinner.
Other than a couple of heard only Chiffchaff, several tit flocks, a Treecreeper, good numbers of well concealed, calling Cetti's Warblers and Water Rails it was a relatively quiet stroll. With the sailing boats out on the Westbere Lake all the Great-crested Grebes, Tufted Ducks and Pochard were crammed into a quiet corner, but there was nothing unusual amongst them.
After lunch we checked the Reedbed Hide, where a couple of Bearded Tit were heard, then walked out past the Marsh Hide, seeing just two Marsh Harrier, and on to Grove Ferry. A few more unseen Bearded Tit and countless Cetti's Warblers along the trail, four Water Rail calling from the reeds and a flock of Fieldfare and Blackbird flushed from various Hawthorns. As we left Marsh Hide a flock of five female Goosander flew low overhead towards Grove. The Feast Hide produced a small flock of very wary Teal, a few Gadwall and Mallard and the viewing mound provided a small Lapwing flock in the stunning sunset. As we jumped onto the bus at Upstreet a Sparrowhawk flew low overhead.
|Sunset over Grove Ferry|