Naturelog: 4th February

Posted: March 7, 2016 in Birds, Natural History
Tags: ,
RSPB Cliffe

RSPB Cliffe


A bright sunny winters morning found Keith and I at the RSPB reserve at Cliffe in north Kent. As is traditional with visits to Cliffe we began our visit at West Court Farm by visiting Tabitha’s mobile cafe for some sustenance to set us up for the day. Bacon roll and tea consumed it was time to turn our attention to the surrounding farmlands and lakes. A few greylag geese were present along with some Teal. As we checked out the surrounding lakes Keith went off to look over one while I checked out another. My attention was suddenly drawn to a white bird flying over the road from one lake to another. There was something about the flight which was not gull-like and to my surprise when I got the binoculars on it – it was a Sandwich Tern. This summer visitor has overwintered in small numbers in recent years, so this could have been an overwintering bird or an early returnee since records usually begin from the first week in March. Unfortunately, by the time Keith returned the bird had gone.

Sandwich Tern. Photo by Sergey Yeliseev (

Sandwich Tern. Photo by Sergey Yeliseev


Cliffe Village

Cliffe Village


Moving on we arrived at the RSPB reserve. Generally speaking, it seemed very quiet although we did have a brief view of 3 Meditteranean Gulls flying over and a single drake Goldeneye alongside the usual species. Nether the less we steadily increased the number of species as we visited different parts of the reserve. We had excellent views, if distant, of a Peregrine sitting on the ground near the sea wall. In the late afternoon as we approached the Black barn, Keith saw a Barn Owl over the red-bed. we watched it for a while and then it disappeared. A few minutes later we relocated it, or so we thought, beyond the barn hunting over the fields. Imagine our surprise when we were then  treated to 2 Barn Owls at the same time as the first one re-appeared in its original area.

Barn Owl. Photo by Keith

Barn Owl. Photo by Keith


Barn Owl

Barn Owl


After the Barn Owls had disappeared Keith located a Greenshank on a pool edge.

Greenshank. Photo by Tony Sutton.  (

Greenshank. Photo by Tony Sutton.

An odd day. It seemed very quiet, but we still got a good species count of 56. It was relatively still, sunny and quiet warm – an ideal day for seeing birds of prey hunting and yet we had only seen 1 bird of prey and that was on the ground! But those Barn Owls made the day!

Little Egret. Phot by Keith

Little Egret. Photo by Keith


Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
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)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Water Rail [sp] (Rallus aquaticus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
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)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

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