Today Irene and I had a short wander around Shorne Country Park. I hadn’t been there for a very long time but with wet and windy weather forecast it seemed like a good option. The trees did keep us sheltered from the worst of the wet and windy squalls. There was bird song all around us, with chaffinch, blackcap, robin, wren and blackbird making up the majority of the orchestra. We did manage to find some mistle thrush fledglings still with the gape showing well and with all their feathers fluffed out making them appear rather “owl-like” in stature.
Ring-necked parakeets called from high up and after some investigation we finally tracked down one of the noisy culprits. We also had great views of an adult mistle thrush feeding – video link below
After a leisurely lunch we moved on to Cliffe where Irene and Terry had had a brilliant day on Monday. We were hopeful of repeating their success. All boded well as we drove towards the car park – Irene noticed some swifts overhead – my first of the year. Hurray!
On to the reserve itself. Several nightingales sang well between the car park and the end of Flamingo pool, one was so close it felt as if we could have touched it, but it stubbornly refused to give any hint as to its whereabouts. Standing, listening to this delightful songster was a wonderful experience and more than made up for the lack of sighting. A cuckoo called and was then seen as it flew to land on a telegraph wire. We did manage to get good views of this bird with the telescope.
The islands were mainly populated by black-headed gulls, noisily going about their nest-building antics. We did see four common terns, and a couple of Mediterranean gulls as well. A large group of black-tailed godwit fed systematically on the far side of the pool with around half of them in full breeding plumage and others looking completely different in non-breeding, pale colour.
Canada geese, greylag geese and avocet all had young with them, and nearer to us along the path a newly-fledged chaffinch called and preened, still with its yellow gape visible. Whitethroat were numerous, sitting high on the bramble bushes singing away declaring their ownership of territory.
The spoonbill is still present at the end of flamingo, looking quite prehistoric when the bill is showing. it seemed to spend most of its time with the bill tucked under the wing, standing on one leg fast asleep – life’s hard. We found one ringed plover, a common sandpiper and a couple of redshank. A large group of shelduck were loafing on the opposite mud bank, enjoying the sunshine.
A few peacock butterflies were around, most looking rather worn and fragile. As we wandered along we were once again accompanied by the songs from nightingale, blackcap, whitethroat, wren and blackbird. Some were agitated and obviously trying to distract us from either nest sites or young and we kept our distance.
One dunnock had a beak full of green caterpillars which it took back to the nest, while a kestrel hunted along the edges of the pool all the time we were there, twice carrying food off towards the Brett site. At one stage it was mobbed by a black-headed gull which had probably got too close to a nest.
Everywhere we looked there were birds either busy with feeding, nesting, resting or simply flying around just “being birds”. It surprises me every year how quickly these birds get on with the business of procreation. I spend months anticipating migrants returning and before you blink they have raised young and are on their way back south! Nature really is amazing.
Now is one of the most exciting times to get out and enjoy the natural world around us. Why not join the group on one of our regular outdoor meetings, or come on the coach trip – a chance to see the rspb flagship reserve in Suffolk with no driving worries, and great facilities.