Trip reports

Sewardstone Marsh walk on 18th Nov 2018

Sewardstone Marsh walk on 18th Nov 2018
Thanks to Ivor Hewstone for capturing our showy Water Rail

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Thanks to Rich for this write-up:

This was a new site for the group to visit and we were not disappointed!

We set off and soon spotted a flock of around 30 Fieldfare flying in the distance, their white underwing really showing well which also helped us identify them.
Shortly after we were watching our other winter thrush, the Redwing as several fed in some nearby bushes with the odd Fieldfare joining them.

We moved on and came to the relief channel that cuts through the middle of the marshes. Here we watched a mixture of waterbirds, Mallard and Gadwall dabbled and Coots were their usual noisy selves. Several pairs of Little Grebe were also present, diving and hunting for their food under water. Scanning the edge of the channel a Kingfisher was picked up, it sat quietly on an overhanging branch, unfortunately it flew off before the whole group managed to see it. Just then we heard the 'piglet' squeal like call of a Water Rail, but it remained hidden within the reeds.

We walked on and as we did the relief channel widened with exposed shallow edges, we watched as Moorhens fed, picking at the overhanging vegetation but also another bird caught our eye, a quick glance and what was first presumed to be another Moorhen actually turned out to be a another Water Rail, making up for the one we only heard calling a little earlier. Our group was thrilled as we trained the scopes on it, we could appreciate its streaky underparts and long red bill which showed well on this sunny morning.

Another duck of note here was the lovely Teal, the males looking handsome with their dark green eye patch and we listened as they called their subtle 'piping' like call to the on-looking more drab females.

Reaching the end of the channel where it joins the old River Lea, we all stood on a raised footbridge allowing us to have good 360 degree views. A small flock of Greenfinches perched in the top of a tree and then another Kingfisher was spotted, this bird unlike the one earlier sat quite still for a considerable time preening, allowing everyone great views through the scopes. Yet another Water Rail was also present here, this time completely in the open. We were treated to views of this bird bathing and drinking, behaviour I would imagine seldom seen of this bird.

Walking to an open marshy area, we found a Stonechat perched up on one of the bushes and a Sparrowhawk gave us a close fly-by giving us really nice views of its barred underparts.

The final part of the walk took us to 'Knights Pits' where pairs of Shoveler filtered the water with their specially designed bills. Several male Pochard were also here, quite often you will only see groups of males in winter as the females tend to spend the colder months in more southerly European countries.
As we made our way back to the car park a Meadow Pipit perched up and we also had a brief flyover of a calling Siskin.

Total number of different bird species seen: 50

[For more photos of what was seen, please go to our Facebook page at
or click on link below.]