With a bit of spare time on my hands I decided that a little relaxation was required and where better a location than the alder wood at Stodmarsh. We all have different perceptions of birds some of us its about patch watching, some how many species can be seen, others how many winter etc, the list go's on but we all arrive at the same nucleus which is the love of birds. Personally I enjoy watching them all and if I can record the moment with my camera then I am well contented. I arrived with the wood bathed in sunshine, it looked pleased that winter was passing and there was an air of expectancy within the local birds that it will soon be time to pair off. First to greet me was a pair of Great Spotted Woodpecker, they chased each other around noisily. I could clearly see where they would raise their brood this year. A pair of Stock Doves showed well along with 6 Goldcrest, 8 Long Tailed Tit and many Blue and Great Tit. A pair of Jays making so much noise came with in sight of me but did not settle and there were 6 Dunnock, 2 Water Rail, Coots and Moorhen scurrying about in the undergrowth. Making my way along the board walk towards the lampern wall I came across a wintering Chiffchaff, it has done well to survive the cold snap. Here I watched a pair of Marsh Harriers, we take these for granted and expect to see them, they are magnificent and exciting to watch this time of the year.On reaching the Lampern wall I scanned the main lake noting Teal, Shoveler and Shelduck along with a distant flying Bittern. I headed along the path to the bigger trees, somewhere here there will be a Tawny Owl in residence, we probably wont be aware until May when the owlets will be noisy just before dusk. Along the path I watched a Goldfinch feeding on the teasel and a very loud Cetti's Warbler in the reeds .Where the trees blocked out the sun the path was still frozen and slippery in places, I was conscious of the fact that I took a tumble last month and proceeded with caution. At this point I would like to say it only takes a second to come to grief so take care. It took an hour or so for my walk seeing lots of common birds on the way, nothing exciting but lots of enjoyment none the less. On my way back to Canterbury I noted a Little Owl and a pair of Mistle Thrush, lots of Rooks busy in the Rookery and a magnificent Buzzard.
Its been a while since I posted a blog, to be honest the short days and long hours of darkness together with little sun do little to inspire me this time of the year. However I have been out, Dungeness to photograph the Tree Sparrows, Hythe for the Purps and a few walks around the woods with the reward of a life tick two weeks ago at Bossenden woods, Blean, near Canterbury. A stunning Firecrest showing well in a holly bush with three others near by. ( Thanks to Steve Ashton for pointing them out) Other birds of note here were Lesser Spotted and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Coal, Great, Blue and Marsh Tits, three Nuthatch and a pair of Chaffinch.This weekend with the threat of snow I visited Stodmarsh and walked to the marsh hide together with Andy Hills, Steve Ashton and Alan Ashdown, along the path by the fishing lake we contacted a small flock of Bearded Tits, fleeting views were had and they looked in fine condition. We walked across the meadows putting to flight umpteen Snipe and watched a rapid flight of female Wigeon. On reaching the marsh hide we noted Peregrine and Marsh Harrier going about their business on the winter winds. Earlier in the morning before I arrived Alan and Steve together with Martyn Wilson had watched nature at its most cruel moment. A hungry fox had fallen through the ice and was desperately clinging to life trying to get out, sadly the cold water took its toll and the wretched creature slowly slipped beneath the water. We made our way back to the alder wood and watched the local residents feed on a few nuts that we put out. Saturday night gave us the threatened snow and I could not resist a revisit, the whole place looked stunning when sprayed with the cold white stuff. I noted two Woodcock and along with Goldcrest and a few Tits not much else. I stood on the lampern wall and looked across the frozen lake, one of the lucky ones to be able to enjoy what nature has to offer.