We parked in the car park at the Stodmarsh village end of the reserve and began our walk alongside the river, this is the tidal section of the Great Stour which is why I was surprised to hear the "plop" of frogs jumping into the river as we walked down as I didn't think they would be found in brackish water. The one pictured below was on the path and I think it's a Marsh Frog, these are an alien species that were first introduced in the Walland Marsh area of Kent in the 1930's and have thrived ever since, they are also tolerant of brackish water which explains why they were in the river.
The first notable bird sighting was of a very vocal and very showy Cetti's Warbler, one of many heard on the way round the 5km route. I believe Stodmarsh was the first recorded breeding site in the UK for Cetti's Warblers so starting with one is nicely appropriate. Marsh Harriers were also in abundance in this area with at least six being counted in the air at one time including a couple of superb males whose plumage was shown at it's best in the short lived morning sun. A female Bullfinch graced us with her presence next but her partner, although calling nearby kept his good looks to himself.
Lunch was taken at the viewing ramp in what was now a fairly cool south westerly breeze but it was worth the slight discomfort to sit and listen to a Skylark pouring out it's liquid, warbling song above the paddock next door. This instantly and will always transport me back to sunny childhood days on the North Downs chasing rabbits and searching for Slowworms and Grass Snakes.
The David Feast hide was a disappointment all that was in attendance were two Tufties a Gt Crested Grebe, a couple of Coots and a Swan with a dirty neck who had obviously been having a good feed in the shallow muddy water. You'll hopefully forgive my indulgence, I just can't resist a few more pictures of this most photogenic bird.
On the way to the Marsh Hide we passed the resident Konic ponies which are a semi wild breed originating from Poland and are used to help keep down areas of scrubland and to improve habitat for some of the wader species. I just couldn't resist giving this youngster his very own name..........................
From the Marsh hide we saw Little Egret pictured below, Lapwings and Meadow Pipits as well as another couple of Marsh Harriers, unfortunately we missed the Bittern which some people had seen from here earlier
The last part of the walk was pretty quiet and by now the overcast skies and strong wind were making conditions slightly uncomfortable, we heard some Bearded Tits pinging in the distance and a couple of times we saw what we thought were these birds disappearing into the reeds but we couldn't be sure. What we were sure of was the three or four Wrens chasing each other around and singing fit to burst their tiny lungs in the nature reserve area approaching the car park. They finished the walk off nicely for us and this one can finish the post off nicely as well.