Naturelog: 21st October

Keith and I off to Cliffe, an RSPB reserve in the north Kent Marshes, hoping to catch some autumn migration. We begin, as always, at Tabitha’s snack wagon at West Court Farm for our morning refreshments and a chance to look over the fields for any birds migrant or resident that might be feeding there. A Rook is a good sighting but there seems to be very little else.

West Court Farm
West Court Farm

Moving onto the RSPB reserve, we notice how quite it seems to be. There is very little evidence of small bird activity, perhaps a result of the breeze that is blowing. As the day wears on the rising tide on the adjacent River Thames starts to move the wading birds off the tidal mudflats and onto the marshes.

River Thames at Cliffe
River Thames at Cliffe


We were delighted to find a Common Kestrel perched on the Sea Wall. As we approached it took off and proceeded to hunt over the marshes

Common Kestrel
Common Kestrel


Common Kestrel
Common Kestrel

By the time we are heading back from the riverside there are good numbers of Golden Plover, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwits arriving to feed on the marshes.


Waders gathering on marsh pools
Waders gathering on marsh pools

In amongst them are smaller numbers of Red Knot, Grey Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Redshank and Ringed Plover. Unfortunately apart from these common species there were no rarer migrants with them.

Grey Plover
Grey Plover

One sighting which we had not seen on previous visits was a very large roost of Great Black-backed Gulls, possibly over 200 in total.

Great Black-backed Gulls at roost
Great Black-backed Gulls at roost

All in all, although we totalled over 50 species, a quiet day for this reserve, but that’s the beauty of birdwatching – you never now what you might find.


Little Egret
Little Egret


Old Man’s Beard – Clematis vitalba was much in evidence around the reserve
Old Man’s Beard – Clematis vitalba was much in evidence around the reserve

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
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)
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)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Red Knot [sp] (Calidris canutus)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
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)
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)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

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