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Ethan Cutler's January journey along the Stour

Posted on: 26/01/2021

It was a cold, icy, sunny morning and the river was still quite high and fast flowing. The paths were still very muddy so I wore my wellies again (thankfully!). As I made my way through the puddles, the ice crunched under my feet where it hadn’t completely thawed out yet. The first thing I spotted was a group of deer on the other side of the river bounding off into the distance. As I stood watching the deer, I saw a pair of adult swans come into view, gliding gracefully down the river. They are elegant majestic creatures who bond for life. I never tire of watching these beautiful birds. Beware though, get too close and they will hiss at you as that is their defence mechanism, especially when they are protecting their young.

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice movement in the tree above me and saw a nuthatch sitting in the crook of a tree. They look similar to kingfishers, but without the dazzling blue plumage. They are blue-grey above with a tinge of chestnut orange underneath and a distinctive long, black eye stripe. They are unique little birds that spend most of their lives up in the tree canopy. They cling vertically onto tree trunks with expertise, both upright and upside down.

I suddenly spotted a bird hovering in the field nearby. I zoomed in on my camera and saw that it was a kestrel. Kestrels are one of the UK’s more well-known raptors. They have razor-sharp talons and beady black eyes to spot a little mouse or vole burrowing away. They are very pretty birds with a mottled brown plumage. The males have greyish-blue heads whereas the females are generally brown. I’d say they are truly remarkable birds, like a harrier jump jet of the bird world because of their amazing ability to hover longer than any other bird of prey.

See if you can spot one when you are on your next walk down the river.

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