This week our usual walk took us to Cliffe. We were met with a cacophany of sound from the Black-headed Gulls on the first pool, where there were also Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Coot and Canada Geese. From the bushes and trees around the car park and along the first part of our walk were there several Blackcap, Dunnock – with a least one family group found, Wren, Woodpigeon, Magpie and Whitethroat.
Stock Dove was pointed out by Irene as it called from the Pinnacle area. As Sally and I tried to video a stunning male Blackcap as it sang from the top of a bush, Irene and Malcolm were watching a Mediterranean Gull which had announced its arrival overhead. Meadow Brown, Holly Blue, Red Admiral and Common Blue Butterflies were seen as we continued our walk. Goats Rue and Dog Rose were in full flower, with Creeping Cinquefoil, Eyebright and Hounds Tongue also identified. Malcolm showed Irene and I how to identify Perforate St Johns Wort – with small perforations in the leaves which show will when you use an eyeglass!
We continued along the path between the pools and heard Chiffchaff and Goldfinch. A Blackbird alarmed as we continued along and a Nightingale shot across the path in front of us. A Wren called from the depths of a bramble and mimicked part of Yellowhammer call within its repertoire. Overhead Common Tern, Swallow and Skylark were seen and heard and a group of four Avocet were mobbing corvids ferociously, as presumably they had young nearby which were under threat. Shelduck loafed around at the end of Flamingo pool, with a large number of Avocet, including several youngsters, and Oystercatchers. A Meadow Pipit displayed as we neared the seawall, and a couple of Linnet flew ahead of us.
We had our lunch stop in the shelter of the seawall watching the tide come in, and piecing together the landmarks on the Essex side of the Thames. After a well-earned rest we were off again to continue our circuit. Along the way we managed to add a few more species to our list for the day including Crow, Kestrel, Stock Dove seen rather than heard, Starling, Greenfinch, a stunningly handsome male Stonechat, Marsh Harrier, Hobby and Pheasant. Little Grebe squealed from one of the ditches running alongside the path. Marsh Frogs croaked and Emperor Dragonfly and Blue-tailed Damselfly were also identified.
From the Black Barn area we added to our wader list with Greenshank, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and lapwing. Ducks on one of the deeper pools included Teal, Gadwall, and more Tufted Duck. A female Reed Bunting called our attention as we were enjoying a family of Greenfinch which were feeding along the side of the path ahead of us.
The final part of the path gave us a brilliant show of Swift and Swallow – both in large numbers, and the occasional House Martin. Curlew and Whimbrel, Little Egret, and the explosive call of the Cetti’s Warbler helped us on our way back to the car. The final addition was the sight of a family of Blue Tit.