Archive for March 14, 2015

Despite the date Keith and I head off for a day at the RSPB reserve at Cliffe. We start out as usual at West Court Farm, which enables us to get our mid-morning refreshment at Tabitha’s excellent road side café by the nearby building depot. The farm is quite busy and there are only a few birds to be seen on the fields but we do locate two Fieldfare and a Redwing.

After our refreshment break we make our way down to the reserve and walk along to the Radar pool, where Keith soon locates a adult male Scaup – maybe the same one we saw here a couple of months before.


Greater Scaup - male
Photo by Len Blumin (

Whilst watching the Scaup, Keith sees a small gull with a dark underwing and a buoyant flight which identifies it as an adult Little Gull. It is a long way off at the back of the pool but it is unmistakable. We watch it for about five minutes till it goes out of sight.

Hydrocoloeus minutus
Little Gull
Photo by Ekaterina Chernetsova (

We continue our way down the side of Radar pool towards the ‘Black barn’. Confusingly it is now longer black as the original barn was replaced some years back. Place names do seem to stick however, even after the related buildings are long gone and we soon come to ‘The coastguard pool’ so called because it was near the site of a row of coastguard cottages which have also long since disappeared.


There are large numbers of Duck present on the large expanses of water with Shoveler being by far the most numerous. Also present are large numbers of Tufted Duck, Wigeon and Teal with smaller numbers of Mallard, Goldeneye, Pochard and Pintail.

Shoveler DOF
Northern Shoveler
Photo by Don McCullough (

On the fields are Egyptian and Greylag Geese together with Moorhen and in the distance we can make out Mute Swans and Little Egrets. A Marsh Harrier is seen quartering the fields and the reed-bed.


Greylag goose (from archive)

Greylag goose (from archive)

Egyptian Goose (from archive)

Egyptian Goose (from archive)

We reach the river Thames as the rising tide is pushing the wading birds off the mud-flats and onto the reserve. We find a party of Golden Plover with one Grey Plover and a number of Ringed Plover and Dunlin.

Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover (from archive)

Further on we find a large party of Black-Tailed Godwits and small parties of Avocets. Preparation for nesting seems well under way on the Black-headed Gull colony. We scan through it hoping to find Mediterranean Gull which also nests here but none seem to be present. In the afternoon sun a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly flies across our path.

Black-Tailed Godwits

Black-Tailed Godwits (from archive)

Gull colony

Gull colony

We head off towards the car park and just as we arrive are alerted by the distinct call to a Mediterranean Gull flying overhead. A good end to an excellent days bird watching with the Little Gull being the best species of the day.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Greater Scaup [sp] (Aythya marila)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)