Trip reports

Nightingale Walk at RSPB Cliffe Pools (Leader David Saunders)

Nightingale Walk at RSPB Cliffe Pools (Leader David Saunders)
RSPB Cliffe Pools [Carol Felix]

Thursday, 17 May 2018

This evening was the fourth nightingale walk on the North Kent Marshes and it was a privilege to meet and greet 28 people and to give the 20+ or so of them who had never heard, let alone seen a nightingale, the opportunity to change that.

So, after a briefing explaining the rationale behind the occasion, i.e. not only to promote the bird and it's iconic but never the less precarious status in the County nay Country. I had to emphasise the local Council's totally illegal plans to build 2,000 (reduced from 5,000 a couple of years ago) at Lodge Hill in Chattenden a couple of miles away.

This site, an ex-army camp was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, because of the nationally important numbers of nightingales, in 2013 and has remained ever since, whether Medway Council like it or not, but tonight was all about the bird itself.

Aided by Warren Mann with Des and Carol Felix, we took a slow walk along The Saxon Shore Way straining our ears to pick up the wonderful rich notes of nightingales. Wrens, blackbirds, chiffchaffs, chaffinches also sang away, fooling anyone not overly familiar with the bird and the very different song of our subject, so we did hear a few birds starting up, but the not the full song and it was only a little past seven.

When one nightingale randomly sang, those at the back (or front for that matter) weren't always able to hear it as we were quite spread out on the narrow pathway. But that was all about to change! At the junction with the Saxon Shore Way and Cliffe Creek we did an about turn and slowly re-traced our steps. On the corner of the path that took us back to the car park is a large buddleia or butterfly bush and from this burst forth, in full flow, the exquisite, fantastic, never-to-be-forgotten tones of a nightingale.

Looking around at the assembled, I whispered," Oh brilliant eh?" and 28 people nodded in agreement - quite honestly their smiles said it all.

To me, that was perfect, 28 folks willing and able to be wrapped around that sound, be engulfed in a wonder of nature and maybe write a letter of protest against the destruction of a prime UK site for this species.

David Saunders