Meeting in the car park at Bromhey Farm (part of Northward Hill RSPB reserve) at 5am in the morning we were greeted by a chaffinch announcing the start of a sunny if rather chilly morning. We soon added whitethroat, wren, robin and song thrush and these species would continue to be the dominant songsters for the morning. A quick scan over the scapes revealed avocet, tuffed duck, black-headed gull, little egret, lapwing, dabchick, shelduck, lapwing and a distant marsh harrier. Towards the reedbed we heard reed warbler, the yaffle of a green woodpecker near the orchard, a cuckoo calling and spotted a kestrel off on an early morning sortie.
We then headed off into the sanctuary area of the reserve (with prior permission from the wardens). Here we heard chiff-chaff, blue and great tit, long-tailed tit, blackcap, great-spotted woodpecker and between 5 to 6 individual nightingales singing their liquidly notes. Along the top ride we were treated to a carpet of lovely bluebells with marvellous views over the marshes and the Thames beyond. Not many butterflies were seen here – presumably it was too chilly at this time. From here we could hear and see the rooks and jackdaws wheeling in the sky above their large rookery as well as occasional grey herons and little egrets which were flying in and out of the woods – however, the foliage was too dense to spot any of their nests from this view point. On the descent another blackcap was heard (or was it garden warbler?*).
At the heron viewpoint there was lesser whitethroat singing with its distinctive ‘rattle’ . Here we managed to spot a couple of heron nests visible through the foliage.
Back at the scape viewpoint we were treated to a moment of excitement as a low flying sparrowhawk sped behind us. We added greenfinch and linnet to our aural list and finished off our walk with views of a fine red fox, lapwings displaying over the marshes and were still back home in time for breakfast!
* I made a return trip on Sunday afternoon with a fresh pair of ears which suggested that a garden warbler was indeed singing around this location. The recordings were also made on my return trip. Can’t see the recordings? Read the article on our website. Recordings don’t work? Click on the ‘soundcloud’ logo and listen to them from the soundcloud site.