A family walk round Stodmarsh NNR on a pleasant, warm afternoon gave us the opportunity for some serious exploring.
There are a lot of bridges on the footpaths and everyone had to be inspected for trolls. Meantime Simon and I had the chance to see a few of the birds there. I was pleased to hear how many Cettis Warblers were singing. After the cold snap this winter I thought that the numbers could have been decimated, but they seemed as numerous as they'd ever been. There were no sightings of early Hobbies but at one point we could see four Marsh Harriers in the air, including three males.
It is still a thrill to see these birds so close to home. It really doesn't seem that long ago that a trip to Suffolk was needed to get them on the year list.
There was quite a lot of activity and displaying, the birds frequently flying with their under-carriage fully extended. When this happens the length of the extended legs is apparent.
The male Marsh Harrier is one of the most handsome raptors around and with a wing span of over four feet they are an impressive sight. Rob Clements gave a short talk after the KOS A.G.M. on Thursday, about birds of prey in Kent and they're improving populations but he didn't touch on Marsh Harriers. According to the last "Rare Breeding Birds" report in BB there was an estimate of at least 90 breeding females in Kent in 2008, at truly astonishing increase over the last ten years.