Thursday, 3 March 2011

It's been a tough week to be birding

This has not been a good week. It has been bitterly cold, we’ve suffered sleet and there’s been bog all to see. The first 3 days were spent at Sandwich – sea watching (rather than bird watching) on the first 2 days and the estate and Worth Marsh on Wednesday.
The highlight of these efforts wer 2 red breasted mergansers, and even these were seen on Wednesday and we walked along the sea front towards Mary Bax. Our sea watches produced nothing other than cold fingers.
Today was going to be my day out of the wind – I was going to the woods.
I arrived at Park Wood just before 8.00 but as I was getting the gear out of my car, a car and Land Rover drove into Park Wood. By the time I got to the main clearing the guys had a couple of fires going and the chain saws were out of the cars. I went and had a chat and it seems they are clearing a lot of the scrubby stuff around the main clearing and will be there till the end of March.
Since the edge of the main clearing was the best place to photograph birds and where I was getting the marsh tit pictures this was not good news. They are also working within a few yards of where the great spotted woodpecker nested last year so I don’t think that will happen again this year.
I assume they will not be working weekends so anyone interested in visiting the place should go then.
Since I was there I did have a walk round and saw all the normal tits (a mixed flock of long-tailed, blue, great, coal and marsh tit plus a tree creeper and a few chaffinch) but these were up at the top of the wood and area where I don’t normally see that much.
What with the noise of chain saws and the smoke I won’t return till April.

After leaving Park Wood I decided to go the Stodmarsh – siskin and redpoll had been reported in Alder Wood and Steve Ashton had got some superb water pipit pictures from the Marsh Hide earlier in the week.
When I arrived I found that Steve was already there – taking pictures of great tits near the bridge in Alder Wood – and we were soon joined by Mike Gould.
There was a largish flock on siskin nearby and we tried to get some pictures but they remained high up and my attempts were poor.
Cutting our losses we started walking to the Marsh Hide (beware the footpaths are very muddy and slippery) and hadn’t gone too far when we found another 6-8 siskin in the trees alongside the path and relatively low down.
As always with siskin you get hundreds of shots of them partially obscured or out of focus but I managed some good ones.  Whilst we were there snapping away Steve Rayneart turned up and joined in the fun.
One full card later and we moved on to the Marsh hide.
From the marsh hide there was a decent number of lapwing and snipe (there seem to be no snipe around the Sandwich area at all), a few grey lags, coots and 2 or 3 water pipits.
The marsh harriers were moving around quite a lot and a male flew past quite near though it was going away before I managed to lock onto it.
Marsh Harrier
A female also came close too but the camera decided to play up at that point and I didn’t manage a single shot.
Eventually one of the water pipits came close and some great shots were obtained. At one point the bird was on edge of the water right beside the hide and the problem was getting the camera onto it – in fact Steve’s lens was too big to get on it.
Water Pipit
Eventually it flew off so we all departed. No new birds but some great views and shots of siskin and water pipit – there are more shots on my Flickr site.


  1. Not a good week to be birding. Any day is good when you have not got to work. I know you have deserved it but its not nice to be working and knowing all the others are out and about.

  2. Shame about that scrub being cleared. My patch suffers that sort of habitat destruction and disturbance every winter :-(

  3. Steve,
    Great account and having missed out on the Marsh Tit and Lesser spot at Tudeley doesnt look like Park wood will hold out much for me either. Thanks for the info.