At 11:45pm last night I was still undecided on where I should go birding today. My short listed choices were The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust-London, Rainham Marshes and Cliffe Pools. I opted for Cliffe Pools, south of the River Thames in Kent. Leaving early to avoid M25 traffic, I headed out. Good for a less stressful drive, not so good for hitting the tide right. When I arrived at the reserve the tide was low, so I had to work hard to spot roosting birds.
|Cliffe Pool en-route to Flamingo look-out|
On arrival there was only one car in the car park and other than a few dog walkers, I pretty much had the place to myself. The reserve is very big and birding the tide is probably the best way to go. However, I had a great morning and recorded 46 species, six of which were year birds; including a LIFER! My first scan from the car park produced a large group of Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit. As I was scanning through the Redshank for anything different I noticed one bird leave the group and immediately land some 20 meters away. I began to scrutinise it as it looked a little different from the other group. I didn't have to sweat for long as it flew and did a small circuit above the water; showing no white on the hind wing: SPOTTED REDSHANK! This bird has been on my mind since getting back to blighty and I was absolutely thrilled to find one.
Like I said, the reserve is big and there is plenty of walking to get to good vantage points. En-route there were small pockets of waders roosting including lots of Redshank, Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit. Little Egret, Little Grebe, Coot were abundant in most areas. Looking across the Thames I picked up Grey Plover, Herring Gull and Oystercatcher for the year. While scanning I turned around to see a Wheatear on the wall I was leaning on. Not a year bird but the best look I have had in years. I left the reserve at 13:40 and was back in Woking at 15:15. I thanked the M25 God...