A Friday late evening visit to Cliffe Pools has been part of the group’s programme for many years. In fact we were visiting long before the pools were purchased by the RSPB. Sometimes we have been plagued by midges and mosquitoes but I can’t remember a bad weather trip. For this trip, the weather was beautiful and there were no biting insects. And with calling greenshanks circling above us, what could be better? Our first interesting find was a juvenile whitethroat. It was on the ground but close to brambles, which is where it should have been. Steve’s picture shows it really well. It must have been from a late brood and somehow it has to put on weight and develop strong wing muscles so that it can begin its migration south to the Sahel (just south of the Sahara Desert). If you look carefully at the bird, you will see that it is carrying a tick. Presumably bad news for the bird. But does the tick fall off soon when it is fully fed? Or does it get taken south to Africa? (and back again?).
Many of the “usual” Cliffe birds were seen, including this great crested grebe, along with many little grebes and, almost unbelievably, over 1000 avocets! Not that long ago, if the group had seen one avocet we would all have been very excited! Sadly, it was too dark to get a good picture. Redshanks, greenshanks, oystercatchers and black tailed godwits were with them.
Water levels were quite low and a ridge at the bottom of the pool had become exposed. This seemed to be a favourite place for the little egrets but, although I tried very hard as darkness fell, I could not morph any of them into spoonbills or cattle egrets. Eventually, we had to stop bird watching and hurry back to the cars as it was getting rather dark.
A really pleasant visit to Cliffe Pools and we were treated to a fine sunset over Cliffe Creek with the Thames beyond. Thanks to Louise and Neville for leading the walk. Thanks to Steve and Sally for the photographs.