Trip reports

Motney Hill & Cliffe Pools RSPB, Kent. Sunday, 22nd February, 2015

Monday, 13 April 2015

Highlights were perhaps a party of five Red-breasted Merganser spotted feeding out beyond the point and then flocks of 100+ Pintail and 20+ Avocet that came well inshore with the tide. Passerines weren't forgotten and we were able to compare plumage details of Skylark and Meadow and Rock Pipits at very close quarters as they pecked among high-tide mark flotsam. At the other extreme, the wonders of modern optics enabled us to identify a female Marsh Harrier hunting way off on the far bank of the estuary (4 to 5km distant according to the map!)
Over then to Cliffe where by early afternoon the tide in the nearby Thames was near full causing islands in Radar Pool to become crowded with roosting ducks and waders, the most prominent being Wigeon and Black-tailed Godwits (100s of each) and some more Pintail (c100). Lots of other ducks, accompanied by coots and grebes, were out on the water on both Radar and Flamingo Pools, a 1st winter male Scaup and about 10 scattered Goldeneye (of mixed genders) being the pick of these. A single Greenshank and many more Avocets were noted among the numerous waders roosting around the fringes of Flamingo while a tight-knit flock of several hundred Dunlin with a dozen or so Grey Plovers embedded provided a thrilling spectacle with its unbroken sequence of whirling and twisting aerial manoeuvres back and forth over the pool. As the tide began to recede small, then larger, groups of waders began to skim back towards the Thames. Unfortunately, before we could peek over the seawall to check the river, heavy rain set in and brought our observations to an abrupt end. However, with our group list standing at 62 species, including 14 of ducks and geese and 13 waders, it had already been a satisfying day.
By John Parish