Downland & riverside near Stockbridge

by A warbler a day

This afternoon I went for strolls on Stockbridge Down and Stockbridge Common Marsh. Stockbridge Down is a lovely patch of chalk grassland and scrub in the hills above the village. In the summer it is a brilliant site for butterflies. However today it was rather quiet. The main interest was the Bullfinches I heard calling all across the site and some lovely views of hovering Kestrels. I then parked in the village to walk around Common Marsh, an area of grazing marsh and reedbeds next to the River Test. As soon as I reached the marsh I was greeted by the sound of a pair of Little Grebes duetting. When courting they produce a whinnying call in unison which is one of my favourite sounds of spring. Shortly after I got a brief glimpse of the elusive Cetti’s Warbler disappearing into a tussock of sedge. I later spent 5 minutes trying unsuccessfully to spot one of the blighters which was calling less than 6 feet away from me. That’s a more typical experience when it cames to this particular bird. However those five minutes were not totally wasted as I got my first sighting of a water Vole this year instead. A brilliant end to an otherwise cold and grey day. That’s why I love the Test Valley!