And still the Nightingales sang on… not that we saw them!

A trip out with Andrew and Nicole to the RSPB reserves at Cliffe and Northward Hill in North Kent.

Our first stop was at Cliffe where we walked down to the river along the Nightingale trail. On our way we saw a party of around 10 Swifts, our first sighting of the year. The trail is aptly named as we heard at least 6 singing males, but apart from a brief glimpse that Andrew got of one deep in a bush, none decided to show themselves. We did get some excellent views of Common Whitethroat and Blackcap and a very brief view of a Lesser Whitethroat, which continued singing after it had disappeared from view. The water level seemed very high and there were very few waders present but we did see some Redshank, an Oystercatcher and a group of Avocets. There were also groups of Tufted Duck and Shelduck on the pools. We also recorded at least 1 Common Tern, another newly arrived migrant, my first sighting of a Tern this year.

Common Whitethroat

Insect wise we saw a number of buff/white-tailed bumblebees (it being very difficult to split the workers of these two species). We also recorded some 7 spot ladybirds and some hoverflies (not ones I recognised and I didn’t manage photos).

7 Spot Ladybird

Nicole did manage to get a picture of one of the Hoverflies, which is a female Furry Drone Fly (Eristalis Intricaria), a bumblebee mimic. We thought it was a small bumblebee till I looked at the photos, so I guess it does its job well.

We had lunch at the viewpoint overlooking the marshes at the nearby RSPB reserve at Northwood Hill.

Little Egrets and Grey Herons were present, no doubt from the nearby heronry. A Buzzard floated overhead and we could see some waders (on nests?) on the islands.

I was about to take a photo of a very attractive Black-tailed Godwit in summer plumage when a Moorhen took exception to its presence and charged it. I guess the Moorhen might have had a nest nearby.

Under the seats at the viewpoint, we found this interesting-looking fungus, which I believe is a Coprinaceae fungus commonly known as a brittlestem, a type of inkcap.

A good morning. In all, I saw 48 species of birds plus some bees, hoverflies and Ladybirds. Thanks to Nicole and Andrew for their company and for including me on their trip to these great reserves.

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