A large group of members and non-members met at Cliffe Pools RSPB reserve. Some were hoping to see the black-winged stilts that I had mentioned in a previous post and some had heard rumours of a marsh sandpiper…….Inside information sources (ie Norman) had, however, advised me that both of these species were just beyond our reach (walking) in the time we had (3 hours). So, with suitably reduced expectations, we set off for our usual relaxed walk looking forward to seeing whatever came our way. There were still many black-headed gull adults and juveniles on their breeding islands and with them were mediterranean gulls and a few common terns. Avocets were probably the most common bird on the pools, along with black-tailed godwits and redshanks. One sharp eyed birder amongst us, however, managed to find 4 greenshanks and Jeff, who had found the black-winged stilts for us 2 years ago, tried the same trick again but, this time, the bird he had picked out gradually morphed back into an avocet. 10 out of 10 for effort though, Jeff!
At Cliffe Creek, the tide was well out and a single whimbrel stood sentry in the middle of the mud. Terry did well to get this picture – it actually shows the characters of whimbrel quite well (head stripes, and a shorter, less curved bill than curlew – which we could hear but not see). Sally did a butterfly count for Butterfly Conservation as she walked back, with others, to the car park.
Thanks to everyone that came along and thanks to Sally and Terry for the photographs.
Some of us went to Northward Hill RSPB reserve for lunch and we then went for a short walk. On the gorse bushes at the Marshland Viewpoint we saw this dragonfly beauty! – a male Southern Migrant Hawker Aeshna affinis. This is a very recent colonist, from Europe, of south Essex along the Thames and, I think, the north Kent shore. Anyway, Julie had seen two in Essex before, but for the rest of us this was a first. It’s also called a Blue-eyed Hawker – a much better name! Thanks to Julie for the photograph.