Nov 102011

I know this is the Gravesend RSPB website, but Jeff did say that he wanted us to add our birding experiences, so here I am telling you about my latest day out with friends – to Essex.

After much deliberation over the birding websites we decided to go to Stanford Marshes, opposite Cliffe and near Mucking landfill site, followed (if there was time) by Wat Tyler Country Park.

Stanford Marsh Reserve

As we arrived at Stanford and read the visitor board, a couple came over to explain that the area had changed since the map was drawn, with the seawall being breached to allow for encroachment.   A new path has been created along the re-sited seawall, and this gave us great views across the river to Gravesend and Cliffe – where we could see the familiar sights of the Black Barn, the Radar and the white cliff below.

Cliffe across the river

In the cove created by the encroachment were over 30 shelduck, teal, and a large number of waders sheltered inside the barrier.   As we got a little closer, we recognised curlew, redshank, grey plover and a single turnstone.   In the bushes and trees behind the path there were goldfinch, linnet, and a flock of over 30 fieldfare.   A kestrel hovered over a nearby bank, and ahead of us meadow pipit and pied wagtail led the way.

On the way back to the car we checked out a pond which appears to have been created recently, and already housed 8 little grebe and a couple of moorhen.

Soon it was time to move on to Wat Tyler Country Park, where we had a picnic lunch before collecting a key to visit the two hides provided by the RSPB, and completed a circuit of the Country Park.   The muddy creeks around the park provide a great habitat for gulls, waders and ducks, and the scrub areas held lots of berries.   Several little egret shared the feeding with a large flock of black-headed gull, herring gull, lesser and great black-backed gull, black-tailed godwit and one lone avocet.   Along the quieter creeks were mallard, teal, curlew and redshank.   As we continued around the park we found small birds feeding in the small trees and shrubs, and these included chaffinch, blue tit, great tit, robin, blackbird a family of long-tailed tit.   A large flock of starling made their distinctive patterns in the sky.

At the final hide we took time to enjoy the birds settling down in the late afternoon light which gave great reflections of the reeds and birds in the water of the scrape.   Here were more little grebe – a further 12 or so – a green sandpiper, more mallard, teal, and a couple of tufted duck.   Just before we left the hide a wren flew across our view and disappeared into the hedge.

Muddy creek

Our journey back was speedy and uneventful (despite our taking a detour around Tesco’s car park in Pitsea in the vain hope of some waxwings).

A thoroughly enjoyable day out and good to see new sites.