Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Sunny Stour Valley Walk.

On Monday we drove south-eastwards into Kent to meet up with two more friends who were desperate for a relaxing day out birding as a break from their heavy work schedules.

The location was the Stour Valley and our day trek around Stodmarsh NNR which started from Grove Ferry where Anita and I listened to our first Nightingale of the day plus a distant calling Cuckoo that was to remain elusive despite Derek's optimism that it would perch close enough for a portrait photo! On our walk to The Ramp we also heard a single Turtle Dove, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff plus Sedge and Reed Warblers. Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Coot on the water with Common Terns noisily fishing and a male Marsh Harrier quartering the vast reed beds. Konik ponies are used to manage the damp pastures.

 Male Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoenichus).

A distant male Marsh Harrier quartering the reed beds.

During one of our many rest stops as we circumnavigated this reserve we also watched another pair of Marsh Harriers and a minimum of 12 Hobby hawking for insects but regrettably too far away for the lens. Swallow and House Martis were also logged plus a swimming Grass Snake.

 Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) singing its heart out.

Throughout our circuit we were constantly bombarded by the close explosive and repeated calls from a warbler that shouts out its own name 'cetti-cetti-cetti' from a nearby hidden perch within a dense thicket before immediately flying onto its next hidden hideaway. Fortunately on one occasion my camera was pointed at the right spot when this compact warbler, red-brown above with its distinctive pale supercilium and eye ring, perched for just a few moments to provide a record shot.

 Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti) pauses briefly before flying to its next hidden song perch.

Another species that likes to sing its repeated, jittery song interspersed with various whistling notes as it slowly climbs up its perch within the reed bed is the [European] Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scripaceus). 

[Northern] Lapwing patrolling his territory on recently created pool where we also logged two Common Redshank but didn't find the Green Sandpipers or Little Ringed Plover that has apparently been seen about 40 minutes earlier. 

In the damp woodland a Robin was collecting a varied mixture of flies and caterpillars.

After a welcome cup of tea at the end of our walk we drove across country towards our friends home with a brief stop at the 1500 acre woodland at Kings Wood, Challock to view the impressive display of Bluebells. 

Unfortunately when I loaded the 17-85 lens the zoom had become locked at 70mm so this was the best I could produce under the circumstances. A visit to the specialist repair centre is going to be needed very soon to hopefully sort the problem out! Our day ended with a relaxing meal at a very quiet riverside pub plus a large glass of well earned amber liquid.    
I'll be heading to Stodmarsh again in 9 days time to go birding with another long-time friend so hopefully I'll manage to get some different species in front of the lens next time.   FAB.

For more images from around the world, hosted by Springman, please go to  


  1. love the reed bunting and the lapwing shots! and always enjoy seeing your lovely robins - so different from the US version.

    and those ponies!!! Precious!

  2. Lovely selection of images, enjoyed seeing the whitethroat, marsh harriers and ponies.

  3. An excellent day Frank.
    Well done with the Cetti's; a nightmare to get a shot of.

  4. Great day Frank. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  5. It sounds like a very interesting day with lots of beautiful birds and photos. I love the bluebells!

  6. Lot's of good birds. Very interesting that they use the ponies as a management tool!

  7. Thanks texwisgirl.

    Cheers Anthony.

    Hi Keith. Probably wait another 10 years for the next opportunity!

    Sure was Gary.

    Thanks Mick.

    Hi Ryan. The Konik is very hardy so is being used on many reserves throughout the UK.

  8. That was a great day (again)! The ponies are pretty neat, and I too, love the Bluebells. That Lapwing is really an interesting looking bird. Have never seen one of those.

  9. So many beautiful photos, looks like a great day!
    Leonora - WBW

  10. super day for you Frank.... how on earth did you get the Cettis image... Jammy fella...lol

    Great post

  11. Hi Frank,You had a real nice time,didn't you? Good for you! Great collection of photos,and the lapwing is my favorite!

  12. Nice photos of many different birds :)

  13. Hi Mona. You just have to see the acres of blubells to appreciate the stunning view ... the camera doesn't do it justice. The Lapwing is a rare vistor to the north-eastern US.

    Thank you Leonara.

    Hi Dave. Not sre, just happened to be pointing in the right direction for once!! We all need a bit of luck sometimes.

    Hi Amila. Fortunately the Lapwing doesn't flit about like the warblers!

    Hi fjallripan. Thanks for your visit and comment.

  14. Love all of your images but I really like that bunting. Carol

  15. Frank, it sounds like you had a great day. I love all the photos. The lapwing is beautiful and a cool looking bird. Is it common?

  16. Thanks Carol. Would have been nice if he had turned in my direction.

    Hi Eileen. Yes, Lapwing are fairly common in UK although ther has been concern over their numbers and some breeding habitats for some years.

  17. Hey Frank! I still can't get over your header shot, it is astounding. It stops me dead in my tracks every time.
    It sounds like you had a special day out there. The reed warbler set must have been something getting those pictures in and out of the reeds and what a strange sight your lapwing is mixed in with the song birds. Cheers to you on that Amber liquid. Well deserved indeed!

  18. Nice way to spend the day, and then to share it with us. :)

  19. I really like seeing the sort of birds I grew up with - these are a real blast from the past.

    Nice post.

    Cheers Stewart M - Australia

  20. A lovely tour Frank. Lovely images to illustrate your day.

  21. Awesome series Frank! Love the Lapwing.

  22. Another lovely day out and I'm sure your friends found it very relaxing, it sounded perfect especially with the meal to round it off :)

    Well done on the Cetti's Warbler Frank, I have never seen one.

    Lovely photos throughout, I particularly liked the one of the singing Whitethroat, that is another one I don't see very often.

  23. A great set of images Frank, that was good to get a Cetti's in particular.

  24. Looks like a superb birding venue. Nice collection of great photos and interesting narrative! That header is stunning.

  25. Great pictures. Nature is aways fun to be in and view. Great post.

  26. ...wow! What a great day. Loved the photos of the Reed Warbler.

  27. What beautiful photos. I especially like your photo of the Lapwing.

  28. all super photos--of some wonderful bits of nature...IM especially fond of that N. Lapwing shot..WOW.

  29. If I got to come to England ever again I would skip the castles and etc.* and just go birding! If only to see that Lapwing. Wow.

    *(I'm glad I did get to see the touristy stuff, though -- it had always been a dream of mine and I wouldn't have missed it -- once!)

  30. Really wonderful series of captures -- that lapwing is a real treat to see!

  31. Springman. Cheers Dave, the header was a one in a million shot! It's a mixed habitat location with a long list of wader sightings and breeding species as well as ducks, grebes, songbirds etc.

    Thanks Sally in WA.

    Cheers Stewart. I'm sure there will be a few more to stir up the memories in the future.

    Thanks Andrew.

    MainBirder. Thank you John.

    Hi Jan. Yes, it was a grand day for all of us with far more seen than photograhed. I have one friend who took 8 years to see a Cetti's ... heard lots while waiting ..lol.

    Thanks Roy. The Cetti's was a definite bonus.

    Thanks Pat. A location with varied habitat so always plenty to see.

    Hi Bill. Cheers. My sentiments exactly.

    Hi Kelly. On a less windy day the Reed (and possibly Sedge) Warblers might perform in the open for me .. always hopeful.

    Thank you Rachel and Sondra. A very striking Wader.

    Hi Sallie. Well if you make it over here again you can bird and enjoy the history at the same time.

    Pat Ulrich. Appreciate your complimentary words.


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