I had originally dismissed the song as that of a Blackcap, but as I walked I realised that it was a little scratchy, with bits like a Sedge Warbler. I turned back and found the bird, and my suspicions were confirmed, a Garden Warbler.
It never showed very well, moving constantly as it sang making it very hard to photograph clearly.
Blackcaps sang from the trees above and a Goldcrest suddenly appeared in front of me.
The nature trail then becomes the footpath that runs between Stodmarsh and Grove Ferry. This path goes through open marsh, and alongside small rifes and reed beds. There was though a lot of strange calls, and these took me a little time to work out what was producing them. A Coot was busy collecting water weeds and taking them into the reeds.
Dandelions in flower lined the side of the footpath, and these were an attraction to the many Peacock butterflies that were about this morning.
The reeds reflected in the still water of the rifes that were stretching out across the marsh.
I could hear a Lesser Whitethroat singing just off the footpath, but couldn't see it. It was then that I realised that the strange calls I could hear belonged to many Marsh Frogs that were in the reeds. But although I could hear them, seeing them was very difficult.
The first Hide was the Marsh Hide. Over the last few days there had been reports of Black-winged Stilt and Wood Sandpiper from here, so I entered with some optimism. However there was nothing on the pool in front of the hide, but scanning the pools on the far side I found a couple of Greenshank.
There were also a pair of Redshank, and Green Sandpiper.
All this was played out to a chorus of calls from the Marsh Frogs, but as a Grey Heron flew in low over the pool, all the frogs stopped almost instantly. I was amazed that they were able to pick up what is probably their nemesis so quickly, and the calling stopped as a result. The Heron though did not stop long, walked a few steps before flying off once more.
A male Marsh Harrier made several pass byes, but always at the back of the marsh over the reeds.
Lapwing were also displaying on the open grass, their twisting flight displays always a joy to watch.
I left the hide, and continued my walk towards Grove Ferry. A splash in the water alerted me to a couple of frogs sitting on the weed in the water.
Marsh Frogs are the largest European frog, and are very aquatic, jumping into water at the slightest disturbance. The Marsh Frog was introduced into the UK at Walland Marsh in Kent. They have spread, and can be found in Parts of Sussex and Essex now. They were introduced as pets or with fish stock, but as a voracious predator, further spread of this attractive frog will be watched carefully
I sat quietly, and the frogs started to sing, inflating the air sacks on the side of their mouths.
It was warm and sunny, but there was very little about. I expected to see Swallows and other hirundines but there were none about. There was also no sign of any dragonflies. I reached the viewpoint at Grove Ferry, a Sedge Warbler was in full song in the reeds surrounding the mound.
By the edge of the bushes a fledged Song Thrush appeared on the grass.
Scanning from the view point, I picked up several Swallows passing through. Teal and Shoveler along with the Mallard on the open water, and on a small island a pair of Common Terns.
In the distance there were soaring Buzzards, and every so often I heard the call of Mediterranean Gulls overhead, but never actually saw them.
I decided to walk back along the river path. More Blackcaps were singing in the Blackthorn, and a calling Kestrel revealed itself being chased by a large female Sparrowhawk. To finish off the activity on the other side of the river, a pair of Stock Dove called from the trees on the bank.
In many of the channels there were the seed heads of Reed Mace, and these were back lit by the sunshine.
I cut inland once again from the river, and retraced the path towards the Marsh Hide, the frogs were still singing in channels, and there were a few more Peacock butterflies about.
I stopped by a small Hawthorn bush where another Sedge Warbler was singing.
I didn't go into the Marsh Hide, as I had seen a Marsh Harrier heading towards the Stodmarsh car park. As I was pressed for time, and hungry I decided to walk on. The Lesser Whitethroat was still singing on the corner, but this time I could see it, albeit distantly.
After lunch I walked around to the Reedbed hide. This overlooked open water, with reeds on both sides. In the shallow water you could see the dorsal fins of some very large Carp that were spawning in the shallow water just beneath the hide.
There were pairs of Gadwall, an a single drake that seemed intent on trying to steal a female but was constantly repelled by the attentive drake.
A Common Tern flew around the open water calling, and passed close to the hide.
A male Marsh Harrier could be seen over the reeds, it would drop down, and the appear again carrying twigs and reeds, there was no consistency as to where it would take them, so it didn't seem like it was building a nest, maybe more than one nest?
I left the hide,and walked back through the small wooded area. In a sunny glade a Speckled Wood, the firs t of the year sat in the sunshine.
As I approached the car park, I heard a Nightingale singing, walking around the car park, I was able to pin point where it was singing from, but the scrub was far to dense and I wasn't able to see the bird. It also did not sing constantly, and there would only be short snatches of sun. As I waled around in the hope of being able to locate it I came across a few more butterflies. An Orange-Tip did settle on a flower head but as I closed in on it with the camera a Green-veined White passed by and the Orange-Tip flew up to duel with it.
A Peacock though was enjoying the warmth given off by the fence.