This week’s Wednesday walk too my friends and I to Cliffe Pools in search of waders.
It started well, with black-tailed godwit and redshank, joining tufted duck, coot, little egret, little grebe and cormorant on the pool near the car park. As we scanned the redshank, Malcolm found a potential spotted redshank in amongst them, much discussion and (to Malcolm’s disgust) reference to the Bird Guide, and we decided that he was right. As we moved towards the Saxon Shore Way great tit, chaffinch, robin and blue tit were skulking in the bushes.
A kestrel flew overhead and perched in a tree at the edge of the pool. A hobby appeared but disappeared almost as quickly. Large flocks of starling were gathering over the fields near the Black Barn, and a grey heron also drifted in that direction. In the shelter of the footpath several butterflies were seen; peacock, painted lady, meadow brown, small heath, comma, and several red admiral. The latter appeared to be a recent emergence, and were in pristine condition, feeding on ivy and hawthorn. Sally gave us the quote of the day “three red admirals in one binocular!”
On the edge of the pool a greenshank stood sheltering from the breeze, but allowing us great views of this most elegant wader. More little egret were dotted about the edge of the pool. In the distance we noticed some small waders by the rafts, these turned out to be a couple of ringed plover, as we scanned we realised that there were in fact large numbers of these birds all sheltering in the reed growth on the edge of the mud, at least 30 were counted at one stage – but there were probably more. At this point our attention was taken by some godwits. Malcolm the Maestro was carrying out one of his excellent master classes on Godwit Identification. Two telescopes, five people, two bird guides and too many opinions! Still in the end we did manage to sort them out. Originally there were 4 bar-tailed and 2 black-tailed, but by the end of our visit there were 6 bar-tailed and 1 black-tailed, thankfully confirmed by a more expert birdwatcher.
In the same area were two little stint, several dunlin, some grey plover in various stages of plumage from almost complete summer to complete winter. The finale of the day was curlew sandpiper.