Friday, 22 October 2010

Stodmarsh & Grove Ferry 22nd October

Whenever I see Great Spotted Woodpeckers I always think how smart and impeccably groomed they look. But take a look at this one, he either needs a bath or he's just had one. Not sure which.

Carol and I parked at the Natural England car park at Stodmarsh and did the 5 km circular walk, stopping at the Grove Ferry Inn for lunch. Well it would be rude not to really.
The first part of the walk is alongside the large lake, don't know what it's called but today I think Lake Deserted might be appropriate. Just the usual Mallard, Tufties, Coot and one or two Pochard were the highlights on the water, with Cormorant and BH Gull above it.
The second part has the tidal stretch of the River Stour to the left and extensive reed beds and water meadow on the right. Birds of prey featured in the big sky views over the marshes and included Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harriers, Kestrel and a Common Buzzard which glided effortlessly, high over our heads.
Closer by in the Hawthorns and Blackthorns were noisy flocks of Fieldfare and Redwings feeding hungrily but warily on the abundance of berries. As well as Pheasants, which seem to be everywhere now, must be the shooting season, also the odd Bullfinch, Goldfinch and acorn toting Jay.

This stretch of the walk is also the sunny side and it did really feel like a Spring morning at times, even the westerly wind was mild and so it was that the hedgerows and streamsides were full of creatures keen to make the most of the warmth before the inevitable descent into Winter.
The Dark Bush Cricket and Common Darter pictured above sharing a prime sunbathing position, were just two of many seen along this path. Also very much in evidence were the shield bugs pictured below. Which judging by the spines on the pronotum might be Picromerus bidens, a predatory bug that feeds on caterpillars and stuff.

And talking of caterpillars, here's a nice little brown job. Unfortunately I can't find it's name yet. Any offers?
***Thanks to Dean for IDing the caterpillar as that of the Muslin Moth. Click on his name to visit his blog.***

We paid a quick visit to the viewing ramp before lunch, the view to the scrape is a little distant for binoculars but we could see plenty of Lapwings, a Little Egret, lots of Teal and a few Golden Plover. All was very peaceful until an unseen raptor I think, spooked the whole lot of them, resulting in a mass take off and temporary pandemonium as the sky filled with birds who soon formed flocks of their own species before settling back down on and around the water again.

And so to lunch, but not before we had stopped to listen to a Bearded Tit calling from a small reedbed. We didn't see it on this occasion but we did see a Green Woodpecker feeding close by in the adjacent meadow and I also stopped by the roadside to take a few pics of Common Lizards who were basking in the warmth of some old timber and were very tolerant of our presence.
I know I said in a previous post that I wouldn't put any more pictures of lizards up this year but that was mainly because I didn't think I would see any more! Anyway this will be the last this year....probably.

The David Feast hide is the first stop on the return leg of the circuit and just before we reached it we were pleased to spot a couple of Bearded Tits flying briefly over the reeds. I've had a good week for this species, I hope it lasts.
From the hide we watched more Lapwings and Teal, a Common Snipe, another Little Egret and the Cormorant below in classic drying out pose. It's hard to resist a shot when they do this.

The last couple of kilometres back to the car park were very quiet. Just a couple of Greenfinches and a female Stonechat made the list. The Marsh hide was an absolute no fly zone, the only interest being the herd of Konic ponies grazing and wallowing in the damp grass. And the last section through the coppiced wood was also pretty deserted.
We clocked up 39 species in all including the Greylag below from the Feast hide. Not bad really but not the most prolific visit i've had here and despite all the water and reedbeds we didn't see one Grey Heron. Lunch was nice though!


ShySongbird said...

Whoops! I nearly missed this post :(

Another great outing Phil and an interesting read, there seem so many good places to visit down your way!

I love the photos of the rather soggy GSW and I do enjoy seeing the lizards, probably because I never see any myself!

Warren Baker said...

That Pecker had obviously only just got up :-)

Greenie said...

Phil ,
You certainly know how to treat your lady , taken out twice in a week , and a meal , you put the rest of us males to shame .
Wouldn't argue with the Shield Bug ID , but not a clue on the caterpillar .
If you do get to Elmley , the Grey Partridge were almost at the car park , after a sharp left and right , there are two grassy tracks on the left with chained gates . The four were on the far bank of the ditch between the two gates . The track is almost straight from here to the car park .

Anonymous said...

Another patch of great photos, Phil.
The caterpillar is that of the Muslin Moth.

Ken. said...

Hi Phil.
Another great day out. Looks like the weather was on your side as well.
Nice variety of photo's