Wednesday, 1 May 2013


Well it is the first day of May today ..... 

My trusty little camera is going into meltdown I think.   I take it with me on my travels most days (even if my travels are only as far as the lounge window to watch the garden birds)

I'm very conscious that this Blog started out as an 'art' Blog but whilst awaiting feedback/instructions etc re. current commissions, and with one piece I can't show on my Blog, I run out of things to post.   Some of my e-friends/Bloggers post 'old' works to keep the momentum going but I'd rather slip in some photos :-)  If you want to see 'old works' let me know and I'll dig some out ...

So ... awaiting photos for 2 dog portraits for Singapore and feedback and guidance re. the 2 dog portrait posted recently.   Partway through a cat picture (can't be shown here) and just sorting out the best of the ref. photos for a double cat portrait (another birthday present/surprise but I think I will be able to post WIP pics)

As I couldn't actually get on with anything yesterday and the weather was bright (but very COLD) I persuaded David to accompany me to Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve in Kent which has been a managed nature conservation site for half a century.   Reed beds, wet grassland and open water areas make this an important and interesting site for lots of bird/wildlife.      As David was still not able to drive (following his anaesthetic) and I have absolutely no sense of direction,  I needed him to accompany me so I could be sure of finding the place.

I felt severely 'under endowed' when the few other humans we encountered proved to be serious 'birders' with professional cameras with mile long lenses, tripods, huge binoculars etc ... buy hey ho, I can point and shoot :-)

Stodmarsh has several 'hides' which are great for escaping the cold/windy weather outside whilst viewing the birdlife on the reed beds and mini lakes.   Each hide has a blackboard where 'birders' can chalk up the numbers/types of birds seen ... I didn't dare.   Can you imagine 'brown bird with orange beak'    or  fat black bird on nest in water?      I am learning lots about British Garden birds but when faced with 10 types of Warblers ???   haven't got a clue!

apologies for the length of this post but I have sooooo many photos and this is just a small selection:

What could be more appropriate than to be met by a duck in the car park?  Until we arrived Mr Duck had been pecking at the grass (not sure if you can see the grass in his beak in these smaller photos)

 but when we offered him a sandwich which we found abandoned on top of the bin he was most enthusiastic.  He's a Mallard I believe

Greylag Goose(s)

Konik horses - these are semi feral horses gradually being introduced to nature reserves throughout Europe

Conservation grazing projects throughout Europe are using the Konik horses for wetland grazing projects. The horses' former habitat of Tarpan was marshy woodland where their grazing activities help create ideal living conditions for a host of associated wildlife such as rare geese, spoonbills, bitterns and corncrakes.  I couldn't get very close to the horses as the access tracks were too muddy/wet

This little chap is a Marsh Frog .... quite vocal but hard to spot in the water/reeds

There were lots of these little birds flying around.    David was told by a 'birder' he met that its a Sedge Warbler.    So that's what I'm calling it.    To be honest there are so many varieties of warblers I just don't have a clue.   A couple of days ago we had what we think was a Garden Warbler in the hedgerow at the back of our garden ... but there are reed warblers, marsh warblers, sedge warblers, aquatic warblers ... you name it, they probably have a warbler there!!!

Correction:   I've just been advised by Mike Woodcock Scolopax Chronicles that this is in fact a Whitethroat.    Many thanks Mike and congratulations on getting three of your bird paintings through to the finals of the BBC Wildlife Artist of the year competition 2013

This is what the reed beds look like - I find them very attractive but for my friends across the pond .. these probably can't hold a candle to the picturesque Florida Everglades ... no basking turtles etc - but at least we don't have alligators here

I love the reflection of this tree on the wet stuff

I have so many photos of swans - such beautiful regal birds aren't they?   I had to stop myself posting dozens of pics (you'll be pleased to know)

and the bunnies seem to thrive here - away from interference from humans ... food for the local Marsh Harrier Hawks.   

and  ..... a goat!   Not a Marsh resident, but one of two pet goats living in the grounds of the local pub and very popular with visiting children (nearly said, KIDs)     Love the colouring

Well I've been quite restrained given the number of photos I took yesterday.

When we got home late afternoon the garden birds were very active and we had a charm (flock) of goldfinches in the garden and the male woodpecker was back feeding on the fatballs.    The blackbird was having a very messy bath in a water tray on the patio .... but I'll spare you those photos (for a day at least)


Polly Birchall said...

Don't mean to worry you but that isn't a marsh frog, it's a crocodile. You were looking at it the wrong way round!!!!!!!!

Jo said...

Now I wonder what you were doing in the grounds of the local pub!!!

Lovely pix Sue. I love swans and these are specially nice pictures of them. Not far away from here is a Safari park and there used to be a goat there who seemed to have a particular fondness for Matt.

Jan/ said...

I'm glad you post photos as yours are always so enlightening to us "across the pond"! And while I lived very near some swampland in Mississippi (although not the Everglades), I still find marshes and wetlands very interesting.

Won't comment on all the photos but love them all! So glad you've got wild ponies too - we have them on our NC Outer Banks and they're so fascinating!

Thanks for posting all of them!

Mike Woodcock said...

Your 'Sedge warbler' is, in fact, a Whitethroat.

Sue Clinker said...

hmmm is there a right way to look at a crocodile Polly??

and Jo.... honest we didn't stop at the pub - we parked in their carpark to access the Reserve - honest!

We live quite close to the Romney Marshes in Kent Jan, smugglers etc in 'olden days' so we have a few nature reserves like Stodmarsh but not all of them have horses - usually its just sheep who are well adapted to the terrain.

Mike Woodcock said...

I don't know if my comment got through to you yesterday Sue so I'll repeat myself just in case!

Your 'Sedge warbler' is actually a Whitethroat.

Sue Clinker said...

Hi Mike
Something strange here .... both comments came through this morning so yesterday's was obviously lurking in cyberspace somewhere.

Thanks for correcting me - I'm gradually learning but need you along on my next trip :-)

I haven't been to Elmley which is one of your 'haunts' I think?

Mike Woodcock said...

Elmley is my usual patch yes. It's a great place but you do have to be prepared to walk; it's about a mile and a quarter to the first hide. The access track is always good though and you can see lots of stuff from the comfort of the car.

Sue Clinker said...

Thanks Mike, its on the list to visit when we get back from Fuerte. We walked for miles at Stodmarsh - just one access path that was still underwater (ankle deep) so much easier to walk it than our last visit end 2012

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

would have loved to have seen those Konik horses :) they are using highland cattle up here to help regulate the land, but would much rather have the horses :p

old work would be interesting to see, but I really like all the photos you post. get to see birds and areas I normally wouldn't