Posts Tagged ‘RSPB CLiffe’

 

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)

A warm sunny morning saw Keith and I at West Court Farm near Cliffe in Kent for our usual morning stop at Tabitha’s snack waggon before proceeding onto the nearby RSPB reserve. The farm fields were very dry and there were not many birds to see although we did see a passing Marsh Harrier and a Mute Swan.

Moving onto the reserve we quickly located two spoonbills feeding on one of the pools.

Spoonbill. Photo by Steve Childs (https://www.flickr.com/photos/steve_childs/)

 

Generally, though bird numbers were low and it was the butterflies and Dragonflies that held our attention.

Small White

Red Admiral

Meadow Brown

Azure Damselfly

One excellent bird sighting was a Common Whitethroat singing from a wire

Common Whitethroat

Common Whitethroat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this strange looking bird – which is actually a juvenile Robin

Despite the apparent quietness we still recorded 50 species of birds, which is not bad for this time of the year here along with 9 species of Butterflies and 5 species of Dragonfly.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Water Rail [sp] (Rallus aquaticus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Lesser Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia curruca)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Butterflies

Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)

 

Dragonflies

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

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)

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 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

Sandwich Tern. Photo by Sergey Yeliseev
(https://www.flickr.com/photos/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.  (https://www.flickr.com/photos/59269512@N08/)

Greenshank. Photo by Tony Sutton.
(https://www.flickr.com/photos/59269512@N08/)

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)

DSCN9713a

 

It was a lovely sunny autumn day and a chance to get out to do some nature-watching. These days have been rare recently due to working on a number of other projects. Today Keith and I headed off to the RSPB reserve at Cliffe, stopping first for our early lunch/late breakfast stop at Tabitha’s food wagon near West Court Farm. Fortified and refreshed we proceeded to see what was about on the land surrounding the farm. Small parties of Greylag Geese, Canada G eese and Rooks were present and Keith thought he heard a Green Sandpiper but we were unable to locate it.

Moving onto the reserve we found a Willow Warbler in some trees, but although we were surrounded by Robin’s singing our first inpression was that there was fewer birds than we would have expected for the time of year. As we walked around we did find small parties of Long-tailed Tit.

Long-tailed Tit (photo by Keith)

Long-tailed Tit (photo by Keith)

 

The most numerous butterfly was Large White, along with smaller numbers of Red Admirals and Peacocks  and we did find a single Green-Veined White, which some years have a late September brood. It is possible though that this individual was a survivor from the summer brood as timings do seem to be late this year.Dragonflies were represented by good numbers of Migrant Hawker and Common Darter.

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Common Darter

Common Darter

 

Green-Veined White

Green-Veined White

Reaching the Estuary we were surprised that even on a rising tide the number of wading birds were low with only a single Pied Avocet and a small party of  Curlew. We did get good views of Stonechat on the sea-wall.

Stonechat

Stonechat

Returning inland we saw a Common Buzzard being mobbed half-heartedly by Carrion Crows and a short while later the same or another flew overhead. On the path we found some Small Heath butterflies resting up amongst the stones. These are another indication that this years timetable is running late as traditionally these do not survive much beyond the first week of September.

Common Buzzard (Photo by Keith)

Common Buzzard (Photo by Keith)

Small Heath

Small Heath

As we climbed back up towards the village, we found a Sparrowhawk sitting on top of a cage of game-birds, but it was away before either of us could raise our cameras.

It had been a good days birdwatching but without any stand-out birds. Nether the less it was a lovely day and it was good to get some nature watching in after some weeks of inactivity.

 

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
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)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
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)
Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

 

DSCN7286a

A free Friday and so Keith and I are off to the RSPB reserve at Cliffe. This collection of old workings and pits is located on the north Kent coast by the side of the River Thames and never seems to disappoint for a days bird watching.

We started with our normal stop at West Court Farm, but it was very quiet. Still we enjoyed our stop at Tabitha’s canteen for brunch. After being refreshed we made our way to the RSPB reserve. We first went along to the radar pool as Keith had seen a Spoonbill from here the previous week. Here we encountered our first Nightingales and Cetti’s warblers singing from the undergrowth. Alas no Spoonbill today, but we were treated to the sight of a group of newly emerged Green-Veined White Butterflies which patrolled the paths edge vegetation.

DSCN7269a

DSCN7267a

At the small pool we were serenaded by Marsh Frogs, whose ‘song’ would accompany us all the way till we reached the River Thames. Often heard but rarely seen we were fortunate to see two in the small pool.

DSCN7279a

On the walk to the River we encountered some Peacock butterflies.

DSCN7274a

DSCN7282

Our attention was drawn to a bush by flying ‘butterflies’. We thought at first that they were Small Tortoisehsells, but on closer examination we found that they were moths. They were fast flying and reluctant to settle and of course impossible to photograph. I even tried using the video camera but with no success. Neither of us is very knowledgeable about Moths but enquiries since have suggested that they were male Emperor Moths and that somewhere in the bush was one of more females and this accounted for their frantic activity.

Emperor moth (Saturnia pavonia)
Emperor Moth
photo by Dean Morley (https://www.flickr.com/photos/33465428@N02/)

Moving on we were treated to a fly past from a Merlin

Merlin
Merlin
photo by Nicole Beaulac (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nicolebeaulac/)

A Hobby also perched on a fence just out of good photography range.

Hobby. The best photo we could get. Taken by Keith

Hobby. The best photo we could get. Taken by Keith

Reaching the River we walked along to the creek and then turned back inland. A male Stonechat was seen perching on a bush, a good record for a bird whioch seems to becoming rarer in the south-east of England. We could hear the characteristic call of Whimbrel and a small party flew overhead. A swallow flashed past and the islands turned up a selection of wading birds including 15 Whimbrel; Redshank; Ringed Plover; Black-Tailed Godwit; Dunlin; Grey Plover and the Avocets which now breed here in large numbers.

Whimbrel
Whimbrel
photo by S.Fitzgerald (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfitzgerald86/)

In the path side vegetation Nightingales and Cetti’s warblers continued to sing along with Blackcaps and Common Whitethroats and a single Chiffchaff. At least 3 of the rarer Lesser Whitethroats were also heard.

The rain had begun to fall and it was now time to make our way back to the village.

An excellent day’s birdwatching. Once again Cliffe had not disappointed us

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Merlin [sp] (Falco columbarius)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Lesser Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia curruca)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Nightingale [sp] (Luscinia megarhynchos)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)

Emperor Moth

Despite the date Keith and I head off for a day at the RSPB reserve at Cliffe. We start out as usual at West Court Farm, which enables us to get our mid-morning refreshment at Tabitha’s excellent road side café by the nearby building depot. The farm is quite busy and there are only a few birds to be seen on the fields but we do locate two Fieldfare and a Redwing.

After our refreshment break we make our way down to the reserve and walk along to the Radar pool, where Keith soon locates a adult male Scaup – maybe the same one we saw here a couple of months before.

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Greater Scaup - male
Scaup
Photo by Len Blumin (https://www.flickr.com/photos/lenblumin/)

Whilst watching the Scaup, Keith sees a small gull with a dark underwing and a buoyant flight which identifies it as an adult Little Gull. It is a long way off at the back of the pool but it is unmistakable. We watch it for about five minutes till it goes out of sight.

Hydrocoloeus minutus
Little Gull
Photo by Ekaterina Chernetsova (https://www.flickr.com/photos/katechka/)

We continue our way down the side of Radar pool towards the ‘Black barn’. Confusingly it is now longer black as the original barn was replaced some years back. Place names do seem to stick however, even after the related buildings are long gone and we soon come to ‘The coastguard pool’ so called because it was near the site of a row of coastguard cottages which have also long since disappeared.

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There are large numbers of Duck present on the large expanses of water with Shoveler being by far the most numerous. Also present are large numbers of Tufted Duck, Wigeon and Teal with smaller numbers of Mallard, Goldeneye, Pochard and Pintail.

Shoveler DOF
Northern Shoveler
Photo by Don McCullough (https://www.flickr.com/photos/69214385@N04/)

On the fields are Egyptian and Greylag Geese together with Moorhen and in the distance we can make out Mute Swans and Little Egrets. A Marsh Harrier is seen quartering the fields and the reed-bed.

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Greylag goose (from archive)

Greylag goose (from archive)

Egyptian Goose (from archive)

Egyptian Goose (from archive)

We reach the river Thames as the rising tide is pushing the wading birds off the mud-flats and onto the reserve. We find a party of Golden Plover with one Grey Plover and a number of Ringed Plover and Dunlin.

Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover (from archive)

Further on we find a large party of Black-Tailed Godwits and small parties of Avocets. Preparation for nesting seems well under way on the Black-headed Gull colony. We scan through it hoping to find Mediterranean Gull which also nests here but none seem to be present. In the afternoon sun a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly flies across our path.

Black-Tailed Godwits

Black-Tailed Godwits (from archive)

Gull colony

Gull colony

We head off towards the car park and just as we arrive are alerted by the distinct call to a Mediterranean Gull flying overhead. A good end to an excellent days bird watching with the Little Gull being the best species of the day.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
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)
Greater Scaup [sp] (Aythya marila)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
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)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
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)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
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)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)

The weather influenced a change in destination for a days birding in Kent and Keith and I went out to Cliffe for the day instead of going to New Hythe as originally planned. We started at West Court Farm where the fields were flooded. There were good views of Kestrel, Fieldfare and Greylag Geese. Pintail and other water birds were taking advantage of the flooded meadows as a new habitat.

Fieldfare

Fieldfare

Kestrel

Kestrel

As we walked towards the RSPB reserve at Cliffe we added some more water bird species on the old quarry lakes. A female greater spotted woodpecker perched on top of a telegraph pole and small birds flitted through the trees. By the time we reached the reserve we had already seen 31 species.

Our first target on the reserve was a male Scaup which had been seen that morning. The eagle eyes of another birdwatcher located it associating with a flock of Tufted Duck on the far side of the pit and through the telescope its pale back (by comparison to Tufted Duck) were clearly distinctive.

Greater scaup LMO 2
A male Scaup
Photo by Paul Sullivan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/pfsullivan_1056/)

Tufted Duck (male)

Tufted Duck (male)

Also present were Goldeneye and the largest number of Little Grebes I have ever seen in a single place.

Male Goldeneye (taken 2013)

Male Goldeneye (taken 2013)

LIttle Grebe

Little Grebe (Kelsey Pk Jan 2015)

We walked out towards the River Thames as the tide was rising and we wanted to see what would come off the Thames marshes. A Cetti’s Warbler calling from the path-side bushes was an unexpected bonus as were 2 Corn Buntings, although small birds were generally low on numbers, most probably due to the wind. At the river we were treated to a fly-by procession of over 1000 Dunlin plus good numbers of Golden and Grey plover. I located a lone Greenshank on the far side of the Flamingo pool.

Greenshank
Greenshank
Photo by Tony Sutton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/59269512@N08/)

A Marsh Harrier and later a Peregrine Falcon were hunting over the marshes, but probably due to the wind there were no sightings of Owls. The overcast conditions meant that the light was fading mid-afternoon and soon it was time to head back to the car-park. Even so we still added species on the way back as birds moved to roost.

An excellent days birdwatching which finished at 61 species, despite the absence of some expected species) with excellent if distant views of some good species.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Greater Scaup [sp] (Aythya marila)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
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)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos) 1
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Corn Bunting [sp] (Emberiza calandra)

Went down into Kent today to spend a day nature-watching with Keith and Brian. My first stop on the way to our meeting place was the Mill Pond at Dartford which can be observed from Platform 4 at Dartford Station whilst I changed trains. I was pleased to see a Little Grebe on the pond along with the Mallard. Our destination once we had met up was the Isle of Grain on Kent’s north coast and which forms the southern shore of the Thames estuary. Our first stop was the RSPB reserve at Cliffe.

DSCN2815a

DSCN2814a

At our first stop we saw two Black-winged Stilts, a bird usually associated with Southern Europe rather than North kent.

Black-winged Stilt
Black-winged Stilt
Photo by Leo (https://www.flickr.com/photos/0ystercatcher/)

We were also fortunate to see the local Eurasian Spoonbill, a young bird, which has been present for a couple of months. Further on we located a juvenile Little Gull on a shingle bank. Apart from these rarities there were over 100 Avocets plus chicks present and over 200 Shelduck

Avocet

Avocet

One of the highlights was a Nightingale which gave us great views (for a bird that is most often heard but not seen) as it appeared to be sunning itself on a tree trunk.

DSCN2810a-1

DSCN2812a-2

We also recorded 7 species of Butterfly and 3 of Dragonfly, although 2 Aeshna dragonflies were seen but could not be identified to species.

Peacock which refused to open its wings

Peacock which refused to open its wings

Blue Tailed Damselfly

Blue Tailed Damselfly

Common Blue damselfly

Common Blue damselfly

Later we moved onto another RSPB reserve at Northwood Hill, where the highlight was a sighting of the now increasingly rare Eurasian turtle Dove. It sat in a tree as it called and we were able to watch it for a good period of time.

072053-IMG_2908 Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
Eurasian Turtle Dove
Photo by Tony Morris (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonymorris/)

A great days birdwatching with great views of good birds. Thanks to Keith and Brian for their company.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
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)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
European Turtle Dove [sp] (Streptopelia turtur)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Nightingale [sp] (Luscinia megarhynchos)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)