This weekend was mostly bright and sunny, after a grey early start on Saturday.
Chilly first thing each day, becoming milder. Very calm.
Saturday started well with a walk in Church Woods. It's lovely to head out the garden straight into the woodland, and nice not to drive anywhere for a change. Plenty of birds singing, a Mistle Thrush from the neighbours garden, and many Nuthatches. Unfortunately they never seem to fly low enough for a decent photo, so apologies for the quality of this picture.
Many Treecreepers, Great Spots and Green Woodpeckers followed, and eventually I heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker drumming, quite a scarce bird in these woods. I saw a pair of birds high in the trees, and again I tried rather optimistically for a photo and only achieved a dull grey image.
Other bits seen or heard were a single Redpoll, several Goldcrests and a Coal Tit.
After lunch I drove over to Wye, where I parked up on the hill and walked until I had a panoramic view. I set up the scope and scanned around, finding at least 4 Common Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk.
Sunday morning started with a trip to Reculver. I met Marc Heath shortly after setting off, and he told me about a Little Owl in the caravan park, which was still showing well when I made my way down the path. Other than that, there were a few Bar-wits, Curlews and a Sparrowhawk flew along the shore, spooking everything in sight.
I spent an hour late morning at Shuart, scanning for raptors. I found very few birds, though 2 Sparrowhawks were nice. Two Corn Buntings spent most of the time I was at Shuart flitting about on the telegraph wire behind the car.
Late afternoon I took a trip over to Stodmarsh to watch the harriers come in to roost, and also to look for Bitterns at dusk. Each year in late Feb through to mid March, just after dark there is is the fantastic sight of Bitterns circling the main lake at Stodmarsh, before flying east or north east, calling frequently as they go. I decided the weather looked perfect for Bitterns, though I thought it may be a little early in the year.
I arrived just after 5pm, and walking up the path towards the Lampen Wall I saw an egret high above the main lake flying west. It looked rather large, and ss soon as I got the bins on it I could see it was a Great White Egret. Flight and wing flapping were very slow, with huge broad wings and a large neck bulge, and the legs were really long; i failed to see any bare-part colour because the light was grey and the bird was flying away from me, but the jizz was spot-on for GWE.
As darkness approached I counted c15 Marsh Harriers and a single Hen Harrier drop into the reed beds, and I waited for everything to quietin down. Then sure enough, at exactly 6pm I could distantly hear a Bittern call, and I saw it circling at the west end of the lake, gaining height before flying strongly east, calling every few seconds. Another flew over at 6.08pm, followed by three birds together at 6.15pm Another two Bitterns flew east, one at 6.20pm and another 2 minutes later. In total 7 Bitterns flew over.
What a weekend - great fun!