11 Mar 2015

Second time at Stodmarsh

May 2014 was to be the next time I was able to visit Stodmarsh. This time with my father, as he had never been here before. The weather was good with only a slight breeze and light pockets of cloud. After my initial success in the Reedbed Hide, it was here I headed to first of all. Given how perfect conditions were and this bay being that bit more sheltered than elsewhere in the reserve. All looked good for providing some great activity. Upon settling down inside there were Mallards resting on a very prehistoric looking submerged tree stump. 
Rest time

Another solitary Drake was also swimming about not to far away. It was pretty nervous and I anticipated it taking off very soon. I managed to freeze the action of it doing so. It was great to see how much disturbence of the water there is created at take off. You get a real sense of the power needed from his wing beats to get airbourne. 

Take Off!

After his departure there was a quiet period of some 30 minutes. Then a Marsh Harrier appeared pretty close. Again as seen on my first trip it was hunting low over the reed beds, dropping down into them but again appearing unsuccessful. It gradually got closer and in range for me to capture this action finally. 

Dropping in
Keen eyed for prey

 A slight breeze had developed at this time as evident with the reeds above leaning to the left. Being such an open reserve down in a valley, this seems to be a common feature to the location, naturally channeling air movement over the water. Not long after the Harrier had moved on, a Grey Heron dropped in to the left of us into a patch of shallow water and grasses. Freezing for a while, it then moved to the left and proceeded to take off. I missed this with the camera, or rather the shots I got were blurred as too slow with the shutter speed. Next time then!

Typical Heron pose

 To the right of us little balls of black fluff with bright red heads and yellow bill tips appeared out of the reeds. Then mother popped out too. A family of Coots. They cheekily swam about patrolling the outer edges keeping a safe distance so as to vanish if the Harrier made its way over hunting. They are a prime source of prey food for them at Stodmarsh, along with Moorhen chicks too. What I find bizarre is that the Coot has chicks with the Moorhens colouring, but the Moorhens chicks also have these colours, but less prominent, as if they got mixed up at the nursery!

4 baby Coots

After an hour in the Reedbed Hide, we moved on further into the reserve where 2 paths create a crossroads. It is at this intersection where I had been told the Bearded Tits are regularly seen very close. After patrolling up and down for a while there were none to be seen. The breeze now had become a lot gustier too, which I would say is why there was no sign of them. We proceeded to go in both the Turf Field and Harrisons Grove hides further towards the Grove Ferry end. There was no activity at all. So after some hours at the reserve we headed back to the car.


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