Yesterday Keith and I went for a walk at Tilbury Fort looking for migrant birds and some early butterflies. Even as we boarded the ferry in Gravesend, it seemed the weather was not going to be on our side. The boat rocked from side to side in the wind and the clouds suggested it would not be long before we experienced rain. As we crossed the river we saw ‘Le Dumont D’Urville proceeding down river. It is a small French, environmentally friendly, luxury cruise liner launched in 2019.
Arriving on the Tilbury side, we first walked along the river past Tilbury Fort. A single Swallow flew down river and apart from a single Whitethroat, heard singing, there was little indication of migratory birds and no butterflies. A small group of Shelduck were congregated on the moat and some Black-headed Gulls, a single Cormorant and a Little Egret were all we had recorded by the time we had returned to World’s End and a stop for coffee.
Turning inland we walked away from the river down the side of the Fort area. Again a single Whitethroat was heard but not seen and 3 Common Swifts flew over. Reaching our farthest point we turned back towards the river. Walking the path we found a sheltered spot where a Green-veined White and an Orange Tip butterfly were seen. Then we spotted a Brown butterfly, which was odd because the only brown butterfly we would have expected to see here was Speckled Wood and this was not the right shade of brown for that. After some time we managed to see it perched on vegetation and were able to identify it as a Wall butterfly. This used to be a common species in Southern England but has become rarer in recent years, so it was a delight to find one here.
Shortly afterwards it began to rain and we made our way back to the ferry. What had promised to be a poor day’s recording was rescued at the last by finding the Wall.