It was a dry sunny but blustery morning when ten of us met at Bockhill, St Margaret’s at Cliffe near Dover. We had hopes of seeing autumn migration in action. So, we were pleased when we observed many swallows and house martins swirling over our heads looking as if they might be feeding up before their journey back to Africa. We were alerted to possible sightings of a firecrest, possible for us that is, down the hill in a wooded area. Having decided to try for the firecrest we set off and soon were watching stonechats, typically flying to and fro and perching on tall plants or bushes. A little further on and a raven was heard and very obligingly alighted on a small tree for us all to have good views. We carried on along the path to what we thought was the area in question but had no luck with seeing the firecrest.
However, we were beginning to see some butterflies on the wing. Several whites, both large and small. As we decided to retrace our steps a short way, we heard an unusual call from above us. Looking up we caught a brief view of a pair of peregrines flying off. They had appeared from over the cliff edge and were calling to each other.
We decided to head inland along the edge of the wood and then turned parallel to the sea along a field margin. It was hard work walking into the wind and not a lot to see but we did have skylark and meadow pipits in the fields. Back near the farm area there was more activity where we found several yellowhammers flying from tree to tree and elusive warblers, probably chiffchaffs. Red admiral, comma and painted lady butterflies were also evident on the profusely flowering ivy. Malcolm also made a great spot of a dark bush cricket up on the ivy. Lunch was calling and we headed back to the memorial where most of us ate our packed lunches sitting at its base.
After lunch, on another tip off of a yellow-browed warbler, we returned to the farm and followed the path behind going west. With ten sets of eyes and ears on the alert a weeting call was heard and then a small bird was seen briefly by some of us. Steve was convinced he had seen the warbler but for the rest of us it was all too brief to be sure. We continued up and around until we reached the N.T. area and proceeded to walk slowly through, not really adding much to our list. We had a short visit down to the beach area for amenities and a cuppa with a walk along the front, adding only black-headed gull, cormorant and gannet.
Thanks to everyone who came and made it an enjoyable day.
Thanks to Irene and Terry for leading and Steve and Terry for the photographs.