I must be getting a grumpy old man, or I've been reading Dylans Blog too often! Either way I'm going to have another moan. After failing to find any Waxwings in a couple of likely places today I decided on a quiet sit and watch at the Reed Bed Hide at Stodmarsh. Often there's not much to see, but sometime a Marsh Harrier will wander very close or a Kingfisher might drop in. When I got there it was already occupied by two gentlemen birders. Now I'm not antisocial but in this case they spoiled my objective. Not because they were there, having what was probably a well earned cup of coffee with the shutters closed to keep out the cold. But because the hide was full of the stink of very recent smoking. I pointed out that there was a no smoking sign in the hide, and it was then that I was out manoeuvred. "Don't worry about that, we don't mind if you want to smoke" was the reply. Was I too subtle when I pointed it out, or was I just beaten by an old hand? Yes these weren't the youngsters whose manners come under frequent scrutiny, but two older chaps reaching nad passing what passes for maturity. What is it in tobacco that makes smokers so selfish?
I left quickly, deciding to return when the fog had subsided and the air wasn't so toxic. Along to the Lampden Wall where apart for Mallards, Teal and Coot there was little to see. One Marsh Harrier flew by quite close and I did hear the "ping" of a Bearded Tit.
I walked up to the channel where in April 1996 an American Coot, found by Chris Hindle, was the second for Britain, and a surprise tick for many Kent birders.
Back at the Hide, now less fume filled and empty, I opened the windows and watched over the marsh. There were at least5 three female or immature Marsh Harriers hunting, but none came very close.
The only birds on the water in front of the hide were Mallards and Coot, and a flock of Teal was dashing around in their normal panic each time there were disturbed by a Harrier. A noisy flock of Greylags, took off from somewhere not far away, but hidden from view and did a fly pasty.
Looking towards the industrial estate, along the A28, the trees at at the back of the marsh seem to be decorated with Cormorants, a bird that has prospered by the increase in fisheries in lakes and gravel pits, much to the displeasure of the fisherman who have been generous enough to donate these feeding stations to these hungry birds.