Last Friday the Gravesend RSPB group had an evening visit to the RSPB reserve at Cliffe Pools. A new reserve sign greeted us in the car park. With only about 90 minutes of light left in the day, we wondered how many birds we would be able to see. However, as soon as we arrived at the view point overlooking the gull nesting islands, we knew that the trip was going to be rather special.
The first bird that we saw was a greenshank – we must have disturbed it from somwhere nearby and it flew across the water shouting its annoyance.
The constant calls of the greenshanks became the sound of the evening – how many were present I don’t know, but we counted at least 8 along one bank. A greenshank with large red leg rings had us fooled for a few minutes – was it a spotted redshank, was it a redshank? I think the guilty ringer must have had a dark sense of humour to tease birdwatchers like that. 6-7 common sandpipers seemed to be coming together to roost and the number of little egrets increased as the light faded until there were at least 18 around the pool. Perhaps they have a communal roost nearby. Redshanks and black tailed godwits were dotted around the pool and we found 2 of the black winged stilts that had bred successfully at Cliffe this year. Twenty years ago we would have been really delighted to have seen 2 avocets at Cliffe – this evening there were 800 plus! How times change. (We also saw 2-3 marsh harriers!) Just as someone in the group commented that it was surprising that we had not seen a barn owl, one was spotted flying over the grazing marsh.
Thanks to Neville for leading such a successful walk and thanks to Steve and Sally for the photographs.