Trip reports

Cliffe Marshes report

Nightingale singing

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Nineteen members turned up with eager anticipation for spring migrants. They were not to be disappointed!!
The walk from the car park to the pinnacle high viewpoint gave a bubbling but hidden nightingale. We heard had at least six individuals today.
A male blackcap gave us excellent views together with its strong "fruity like" call. A willow warbler gave us its descending call as well. The monotonous call of a chiffchaff was also heard and fortunately everyone had close views of one perched on a prickly bramble bush posing for the photographers.
The steep climb up to the pinnacle viewpoint was not too strenuous.From here one gets a bird's eye view of the area with its various flooded pits and paths to the Thames.
The constant calls of the various gull species were overwhelming. The islands were smothered with gulls and a couple of swallows flew over.The frequent mewing/cat like calls of Mediterranean gulls flying over were heard throughout the walk. Following the Med gulls in flight one was able to see their lack of any black on their wingtips.
Making our way down from the viewpoint we walked along the paths between the Pools towards Cliffe Creek. Birds seen and heard included song thrush, great tit, long tailed tit and excellent views of colourful perched goldfinches resplendent with their red, gold, black and yellow markings. Further croaking, bubbling fluty nightingales were also heard.
Overlooking the pools gave us various duck species including tufted duck, wigeon, teal, shoveler, pochard, gadwall and shelduck. Excellent views were had of a couple of Mediterranean gulls on an island with their thick chunky red bills, sooty black head and white eye ring.
Waders seen today were big numbers of avocets both feeding in the water with their typical side to side feeding action, and roosting on the islands. A small group of black tailed godwits in flight with their white wing bars were seen and a few noisy oystercatchers were seen and heard. Several swooping displaying and calling lapwing were also seen and heard today and a couple of little egret were spotted as well.
Well hidden exploding calling Cetti's warblers were around today. Another spring migrant in the shape of the elegant common tern appeared as we made our way towards Cliffe Creek. Its typical bouncy flight mode was seen together with its screechy call. A couple of ringed plover were scuttling about on the dusty mud and a small flock of dunlin flew over.
Just as we left the path, approaching Cliffe Creek, we had views of a couple of marsh harriers quartering the reed beds in the middle distant and a buzzard also passed over shortly afterwards. Overlooking Cliffe Creek gave us views of quite a few redshank feeding in the mud and a calling curlew flew over us.
Then the "harbinger" of spring called— the cuckoo. We had at least two calling.
In addition a couple of showy whitethroat, sitting on top of bramble bushes with their scratchy calls were also seen. Perseverance paid off here as everyone waited for a calling nightingale to eventually show itself by sitting on top of a small tree singing. Cameras were again clicking away. A skylark also called overhead somewhere and a green veined white butterfly was also seen here.
In the sunshine, despite a slight cold wind, fifty four species were seen with definitely the showy calling nightingale being the showstopper with close support from the two cuckoos, the two whitethroats and calling blackcap, willow warbler, chiffchaff and common tern.
Definitely "Spring had Sprung".

George Kalli