Tuesday 31 October 2023

Solitary Sandpiper: Stodmarsh, Kent

Due to not feeling well and having had very little sleep, I missed an opportunity to go to Frampton with Brian for the Red-headed Bunting. To add insult to injury I then missed Brian's phone call the next day saying he was going to Stodmarsh for the Solitary Sandpiper!

Brian having already seen the bird on Sunday offered to take me today, which I was more than happy to accept.

We arrived shortly after first light and made our way along the footpath towards the boathouse. This was where the bird had been seen the previous evening. The viewing area was very limited and already birders were standing four deep across the area. There had been no sign of the bird so far so Brian decided to check Tower hide and Reedbed hide to see if it was showing from there. Dad and I decided to stick it out but after a further two and a half hours with no sign of the bird and rain having been steadily falling since arrival we joined Brian in Reedbed hide and year ticked a Water Pipit that Brian had phoned to say was present. Not exactly a Solitary Sandpiper, but a year tick was a welcome distraction. We enjoyed views of Great White Egret, Kingfishers, and Water rails, while listening to the constant calls of Bearded Tits, when suddenly news comes through that the sandpiper had appeared on the muddy strip by the boathouse! 

I walked back as fast as I could to find twice as many birders present as there were earlier. I managed to get around the back of the last line of birders and stood at the left-hand side of the viewing area. I still had no view, but a birder who had his scope set up on the bird was about to leave and kindly let me take his place. I now had a decent view of the area, but there was no bird! Then suddenly there it was, emerging from the reeds on the left and feeding along the muddy strip. It would follow the same pattern while I was present, it would appear either from the left or right walk along the muddy strip and quickly disappear at the other end again.

View from Reedbed hide

Water Pipit

Water Rail

Great White Egret

Solitary Sandpiper (Brian took this on his previous visit)

The very limited Viewing area for the sandpiper

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Stone Curlews

We headed up the M11 this morning, hoping to find some Stone Curlews before their departure to warmer climates in southern Europe and northern Africa.

As we stepped out of the car there were several Stone Curlew visible. We set the scopes up and began scanning the area for an initial count. Not an easy task considering the terrain. There's plenty of longer grass, taller scrub, and little channels for the birds to disappear into. As we began the count the birds were flushed by crows. They took flight but soon returned and landed among the shorter vegetation. We scanned through the flock and counted sixty-nine birds. Easily my largest-ever count of this species.

A few of the Stone Curlew flock

Although the Stone Curlew was the main attraction, we did have a supporting cast of Twenty plus Lesser Redpoll, Skylarks, Woodlarks, Stonechats, and Meadow Pipits. Birds of prey were also present with Buzzard, Kestrel, Red Kite, and Sparrowhawk all seen.