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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Cliffe RSPB

June 24th

With another spare day I thought I would have a crack at the Black Winged Stilts that bred at Cliffe, although recent news has been pretty negative.
Forever the optimist I thought that if I did a full circuit, the circular walk going up to the sea wall, back down by the Black Barn, I must see one of them.

I had picked a glorious morning and even at a relatively early hour I was searching for Dragons and Butterflies, Comma’s and Ruddy Darters were seen along the path, however I was here for the Stilts so started to scan the islands.

As expected just by the noise alone Black Headed Gulls and there young were everywhere with a small colony of Common Terns, intermingled here and there were Avocets, no Stilts though.

Even walking on main path, Black Headed Gulls were diving

All the way to the Sea Wall I scanned every bit of perimeter vegetation, Redshank, heaps of Avocets, 6 Ringed Plover and 2 flyover Curlews were seen.
The regular Spoonbill was also seen roosting.

Arriving at the sea wall produced first 1 then 2 together Sandwich Terns flying onto the Reserve; it was a rising tide so no doubt going to roost.

Sandwich Tern

Marbled White

Moving on and I came across the odd sight of a Tortoise sitting on the sea wall, first thought was how did it get up there?
Unfortunately someone must have placed it there as I realised that it was dead. Riddled with insects you wonder at how it got out here and the story behind it, unusual.

Unfortunately dead

Moving on , by now I had picked up around 20 Marbled Whites along the Sea Wall along with Small, Essex and Large Skipper seen also, Ruddy Darters were everywhere, scanning again produced no Stilts.

I then headed down the path towards the Black Barn, Emerald Damselflies were seen, still not sure which one but presume normal Emerald rather than Scarce, any help appreciated on the photos, how do you split them?

Normal Emeralds or Scarce?

By the time I had arrived at the first mound, I had picked up 3 singing Corn Buntings, 1 along the sea wall with 2 along the straight path.

Plenty of birds were seen searching for the Stilts but there is so much vegetation present they could easily be tucked away somewhere out of the way, still I would have expected to have seen an adult bird.

Moving on and I scanned from the 2nd mound, again negative but the pools were absolutely teeming with wildfowl, Pochard and Tuftie broods quite numerous, also the Black Swan, I suspect this is the same bird that we saw on our winter surveys on Hoo.
At the last Pool I scanned the back of the islands, again negative but did pick up a roosting Whimbrel amongst the Lapwings.

Avocet coming off the Thames to roost

A very enjoyable visit and I met a few Birders along the way, opinion seems to be divided on the Stilts, some are saying predated and others still here but in deep cover.

Hopefully it is the latter.


  1. Scarce Emerald for me Dave. The blue covers ONLY the first one and a half segments whereas the Emerald covers the first 2 completely.

  2. Marc, thanks for the information and highlighting the differences between the 2, will keep it in mind on my next visit. Cheers