Not the weather I was expecting today,but a visit was still on the cards. I wanted to go via The Woolpack Inn, but as we was later than I was expecting, we gave it a miss, what a good decision that was, because there was road repairing going on starting at the petrol station at the roundabout to Rye, and there was a 10 mile diversion in place.
We arrived at around 11.30am and left at 3.30ish. The feeders in the car park was quiet, the only dirds on them was reed Buntings, Great Tits, and Chaffinches, ther was no sign of the Moorhen on the feeder, which has become famous, as there is a photo, and short letter in March edition of Birdwatching magazine.
The first stop was the Scott Hide, and it was just how it has been over the last few times I have visited, birdless, well almost, apart from a handful of ducks drifting over by the big island, and 3 Little Grebes doing what looked like follow the leader just out in front of the hide window. so after a very short stay it was round to Denge Marsh Hide.I expected there to be a good number of birds, there wasn't. The water level is quite high, and the nesting rafts have been taken away.
The highlight was a Bittern that flew in from the far right into the reeds just to the right of the hide. The only other highlight was watching 3 pairs of G/C/Grebes displaying, head shaking, and one doing the weed dance, and head shaking. Another male Grebe was trying to entice his partner with weed but she kept turning her back to him and swimming away, I guess she didn't fancy him. I am not going to list the species seen as they was all the usual ones seen. I will do a full list at the end.
On the way back passing the mound at Hookers a pair of Marsh Harriers was staying together over the reeds, quite low at times, and in the fields behind was a mixed gaggle of Greylags and Canada Geese.
We stopped at entrance to the reserve to watch the Tree Sparrows. Pam and I counted between circa 25-35, maybe 40ish as they was flittering around everywhere, around the feeders, in the trees and bushes and across the road.
Making the final stop in the Hanson Hide, ARC Pit, I settled down near the corner. I expected it to be busy seeing the main reserve was so quiet but it wasn't, just me a some other guy.
There was no sign of the Long Tailed Duck here as it was now residing on the New Diggings near the road, as is the 2 male Smew. There is also around 30 females on the reserve, but there was only 4 showing from this hide.
There was 3 male Goldeneye showing well, and 8 females, the Wigeon and Pintail numbers have dropped.
Some of the Cormorants was busy starting to build their nests on the island, then a mixed flock of Curlew and Whimbrel flew in for a wash and brush up. The light now was better than it was so it was easy to distinguish the 2 apart, there was 11 Whimbrel, and 18 Curlew. Apart from the bill difference the head markings showed up well.
We didn't have to wait long before my 2nd Bittern appeared. the guy next to me saw it take off and we watched it fly across the reeds from right to left, landing it the small reed area to the left of the hide, then before we could draw breath, I saw something fly out of the reeds in the same area as the last one, and it was another Bittern, my 3rd of the day. This one flew further round to the right. I then decided to call it a day, well how was I going to top that??
Below is a list of all the different species I saw today around the reserve:
G/B/B/Gull, L/B/B/Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, B/H/Gull, C/Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Magpie, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Bittern, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Marsh Harrier, Coot, Moorhen, G/C/Grebe, Little Grebe, Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Shelduck, Pintail, Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Smew, Goldeneye, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Whimbrel, Lapwing, Pheasant, Great Tit, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Starling, Robin, Blackbird.
My 'Bird of the Day' could have been the 3 Bitterns, but I am going to select the ** Great Crested Grebe displaying.**