16 November 2018

U3A Third Age Birders Cliffe Pools 14th November


Somehow we managed to pick the warmest, sunniest November day for many a year for our trip to RSPB Cliffe Pools on the Thames Estuary. A bittersweet pause before winter hits us.The air was soft and balmy, the clouds were fluffy and white, the winds were light and the wintering waders were mostly still oop north! 

Another, colder year and we could have seen a huge variety of flocks.This autumn we had to be content with numerous lapwing and a stately bunch of golden plover gleaming yellowy brown in the sunlight. Some notable "singles" included a lone avocet (thank you Barbara Phillips) a dulux-white little egret (thank you Molly Ward) some chestnut-headed pochard (thank you Diana Brown) and a hovering kestrel (thank you Brian Swift).

A large group of great black backed gulls loitered menacingly on a spit of land, probably dreaming of those lazy, hazy days of summer when lapwing chicks were an easy snack lunch. Diving dabchicks seemed to be everywhere in and out of our sights and as we reached the gloopy mudbanks of the river we saw a long-billed curlew and heard its evocative and mournful call.

Wandering flocks of long-tailed tits twittered in the trees alongside great tit and goldfinch, but there was not "much about" as birders say. However, strolling around the lakes in the warmth of the late autumn sunshine followed by a greasy-spoon lunch in good company more than compensated.  

Surprisingly, a species count reveals a respectable 31 confirmed sightings....

avocet, blackbird, coot, crow, curlew, dabchick, tufted duck, little egret, great black backed gull, herring gull, black headed gull, kestrel, lapwing, magpie, mallard, wood pigeon, golden plover, pochard, redwing, robin, shelduck, shoveler, starling, mute swan, great crested grebe, great tit, long tailed tit, wren, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker au. chaffinch au.

Our end-of-year sortie will be into the wild depths of Bough Beech Reservoir. This will take place on 13th December, morning only. 9.30 Ide Hill Community Shop for coffee then 10 a.m. at the Bough Beech Centre.
The following day we have our birding group Christmas Lunch to round off a happy year of birding.

I will soon be busy making our plans for next year which I will then forward to you so you will be aware of the dates and locations well in advance.

Happy birding- Briar