On a bright, sunny, but crisp morning, Sue, Martin, Bob, Judy, Maureen, Alan, Jeremy, Deidre and Al met at the visitor centre.
Sue, Martin and Al had already seen nuthatch, feral pigeon, goldfinch, blackbird, collared dove, starling, black headed gull, pheasant, carrion crow, redshank (in Rye), curlew (Camber golf club) and jackdaw along the way and prior to our arrival at the reserve, we had all stopped at Scotney pit and seen greylag and barnacle goose, wigeon and lapwing.
On the way into the reserve, a magpie was seen from the track and the first of three great white egrets. We didn’t see anything further until we reached the Car Park where, by the feeders, were chaffinch, blue tit, tree sparrow, robin, wren, greenfinch, dunnock, great tit and calling green woodpecker.
From the Dennis Hide we had great crested grebe, pied wagtail, grey heron, little egret, a further two great white egrets, merlin, sparrowhawk, oystercatcher, gadwall, mallard, moorhen, shoveler, great black-backed gull, tufted duck, cormorant, common buzzard, little grebe and herring gull.
En route to the Frith Hide a kestrel hovered and from here we saw a goldeneye. A better view was had from the Makepeace hide and we spotted a pintail also.
Nothing further was added from the subsequent hides, so we headed back to the centre, picking up meadow pipit and chiffchaff as the temperatures were now improving a little.
Following restorative beverages, we headed off the reserve to look across Dengemarsh road. On the way out, along the entrance track was a pair of stonechat. From the road itself (and just past the football pitch) were two cattle egret, common buzzard, skylark, golden plover, wood pigeon and common gull (thanks, Bob). Lovely views of marsh harrier (as always) too.
Doubling back to the Hansen ARC pit (passing some rooks along the road), we saw raven (from the path) smew, shelduck, ruddy duck, pochard, two bitterns, water rail (heard) and teal, from the hide and around the trail after was a calling Cetti’s warbler.
Lunch despatched, we took in a circuit of Walland Marsh. At the grain store was a super male grey wagtail, with mistle thrush, fieldfare and redwing over. A chance meeting with another birding team here revealed the location of some bewick’s swans, which were feeding in a field of brassicas nearer to Lydd in the company of a significantly greater proportion of mute swan. Reed bunting, house sparrow, yellowhammer also spotted around the loop, before we finished up at the mound, rounding off the day with a barn owl and another merlin. A flyover tawny owl was seen by some on the way back home.