Trip reports

Cliffe Pools 12th May 2018

Nightingale singing

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Cliffe Pools 12th May 2018
Waiting patiently for the main gate to the reserve car park to open the "early birds" amongst us managed brief views of a calling lesser whitethroat. Its call can be likened to the first half call of a yellowhammer-'a little bit of bread (but no cheese)'. A mixture of robins, dunnocks, goldfinches and wrens were heard as well and a couple of Egyptian geese flew.
With the gate open a race to the car park ensued and in the rush Sandra got left behind with their telescope by her husband Stephen. It wasn't deliberate! In the car park scrub and bushes nightingales were bursting out their bubbling, croaking songs. Throughout the walk we were serenaded by nightingale song. There were probably in excess of six songsters. Tony eventually managed to scope a nightingale hidden in a bush for all to see.
On the first pools there were pochard, tufted duck, shelduck and great crested grebe and Peter managed to see a common sandpiper. An oystercatcher and some lapwing were also seen.
Moving on the distant call of a cuckoo was heard. Further up the path another elusive nightingale performed strongly in song but was well hidden. A chiffchaff and blackcap were also in song. Several whitethroat also showed well with one perched on a metal gatepost. The scratchy calls of whitethroats were ever present and second only to nightingale in the song charts. One whitethroat also performed its upward song display flight as well. A couple of long tailed tits plus goldfinch and chaffinch all put in an appearance in a short burst of viewing.
The pools alongside the next path were a cacophony of noisy black headed gulls resting and nesting on the islands. Very quickly several Mediterranean gull were isolated and set up for scope views. Their thick red bills and "coal black" heads easily distinguished them from the brown heads of the countless black headed gulls. A swallow flew over. At the back of the pools good numbers of avocet were present plus a couple of little egret and grey heron. Up to four common terns were resting on the islands and one also flew over us calling.
Another nightingale bubbled in the bushes and was finally pinned down for everyone to see and a lesser whitethroat called but stayed out of view. A kestrel hovered in the distance and I picked out a distant cuckoo perched on top of a bush while a skylark was heard.
The last pool was viewed from its edge. A marsh harrier flew over the back of the pool and several redshanks, oystercatchers and at least three ringed plovers put in an appearance. A brief shower had everyone putting on waterproofs.
A look at Cliffe Creek revealed it was high tide and no mud. A couple of mallard were seen and noisy oystercatcher flew over. The last stretch of the walk yielded two swift.
Fifty one species were recorded. Several holly blues, a common blue and a cinnabar moth were also seen. The summer migrants including whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, blackcap and chiffchaff were in full voice today, led by the nightingale. The other spring migrants were common tern, swallow and swift. The splendidly attired Mediterranean gulls were much appreciated as was the sun and rain!! George Kalli