RSPB Cliffe Pools

A bright sunny morning found Keith and me at the RSPB Cliffe Pools reserve in North Kent. August can be a quiet time for birds and so it seemed it would be on the way down to the reserve from West Court farm. Still, it is also a time when plenty of other things can be seen. Our first stop was the radar pools but apart from a large group of Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits, there was little to be seen, bird-wise. However the vegetation around the pools was alive with butterflies, mostly small whites and green veined whites, together with a single Painted Lady, a few Red Admirals and Holly Blues and a number of Migrant Hawker dragonflies; Common Blue damselfly and Common Darters.

Red Admiral

Painted Lady

Holly Blue

 

Migrant Hawker (f)

Common Blue damselfly

Common Darter

 

Perhaps our best find was at the small pond under the radar tower, where we found three emerald damselflies. There are four species of emerald damselflies found in North Kent and I didn’t immediately recognise this one. Later research, confirmed them to be the Willow Emerald. A recent colonist to south-east England, this damselfly was first recorded in East Anglia in 2007, it has now spread to Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and the north coast of Kent. This is my first record of this species.

Willow Emerald damselfly. Photo by Keith

Moving on there were no signs of Black-winged Stilts on the pools near the Black Barn. Black-winged Stilt is a rare visitor to the UK, but two pairs bred at Cliffe this year raising at least seven young. It seems that one family has apparently moved off across the Thames to Essex, but the other has remained at Cliffe. But they were not visible during our visit. Walking down to the sea wall, a flash of colour alerted us to a rather well camouflaged moth resting against the stone wall. This Red Underwing, mottled grey on top, was magnificently camouflaged until it flew revealing its brightly coloured underwing.

Red Underwing. Photo by Andy Rogers (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cobaltfish/)

Spot the Moth. Red Underwing blending into stone wall

As we left the estuary and turned back inland we were alerted to the calls of Greenshank and searching for these lead us to find a Eurasian Spoonbill and a number of other wading birds including Common Redshank and Whimbrel. We had just decided to move on from this pool when the clouds darkened and there was thunder and lightning followed by heavy rain. We sought shelter under the vegetation for 10 minutes but it did not seem like this was a passing shower and so we decided to make our way smartly back to the waiting car and a quick retreat.

A good day with my first record of willow emerald damselfly being the highlight.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
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)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
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)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Red Underwing Moth (Catocala Nupta)

Western Willow Emerald (Lestes viridis)
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Comments
  1. Keith Cutting says:

    Usual excellent write up. Did you want to add Red Underwing

    • Pete says:

      Will do. I don’t have a moths database on the computer so cant generate a list like I do for birds, butterflies and dragonflies, but I will add it manually.

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