Who am I?

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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!

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Sunday, 29 January 2017

Most satisfactory (and a gripe!)

If Carlsberg made weekends, then the one I have just experienced would be right up there in the mix for the title? Yesterday, it was fishing, today has been a mixture of social time with Bev and birding. It started with a male Sparrowhawk making a prolonged attempt at finding a way to get Java Sparrow on the menu. I had fun with my long lens, through the conservatory glass, getting a series of images before we went out for breakfast in Deal then spent time just wandering around the town centre. I added Red Kite, no. 70, to my year list as we drove back to Thanet, as one soared above the Sandwich by-pass. Getting back home, the fire was lit (we have an open fire in our living room) and Bev settled down in front of the t/v. I had a quick check of the weather then announced that I was going to Stodmarsh to add a few more ticks to my lowly year list.

A rather murky image of the male Sparrowhawk, taken through the
glass of our conservatory. It spent over ten minutes attempting to find
a way into the aviary.  The padlock above its'  head is on the flight door, but
not much use if you don't have the key!
I parked up at the Grove Ferry end of the reserve and spent the next two and a half hours doing the complete circuit. Potentially this magnificent reserve could provide another twenty species to my pathetic effort, however, with many of the sheltered areas of water still frozen, there were limits to what I could expect. It had always been my plan to watch the harrier roost, thus getting Hen Harrier - a bird that I missed last year. Goldcrest and Bullfinch were added, as I walked along the river bank, a Kingfisher and a Sparrowhawk adding to my enjoyment. Arriving at The Lampern Wall, it was obvious that there were good numbers of Teal present on the main lake, their calls providing a nice soundscape, intermixed with"chacking" Fieldfares and tinkling ice, wind blown in the margins. I got myself in position, to survey the reed bed and settled to my task. All of a sudden there was a commotion behind me and a huge number of Greylag Geese were swirling around over Trenley Lake. The majority, including an all white individual, went down on that lake, however a good number made it to Stodmarsh and, glory be, I managed to pick out a single European White-front in their midst. It was developing into rather a good session.

My primitive camera gear will never be able to capture anything more than record shots under these
low light conditions. One, of thirteen, Marsh Harriers I watched coming into roost this evening.
As the light started to fail, and with the constant threat of rain, so the Marsh Harriers began to arrive. I had counted thirteen before, at 16.00 hrs, I had to give up - my car being parked at the other end of the reserve. I made my way past the Nature Trail wood, where a Firecrest was calling then headed off towards the Marsh Hide, Bearded Tits calling out in the reed bed as I passed by. I had just reached the Marsh Hide  when, over to my right a bird was drifting over the reeds. Result! A ring-tailed Hen Harrier; the cherry on the top of an absolutely brilliant weekend spent in, and around, East Kent.
So what's to moan about? In all my time around this jewel of a reserve I only encountered five other sets of optics. That's not a big deal, there were lots of families out. enjoying these magnificent surroundings without the need to look at the wildlife. Their choice entirely. Nope, my problem was with an odious bunch of sub-adults who used the facility to parade their fashion statement pooches, whilst dressed in designer labelled "Country Attire" yet felt it was below their "elevated status" to clean up after their dogs. Phil Milton often refers to Pegwell Bay as a dog toilet; surely Stodmarsh deserves better?

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