With the sun shining and the temperature just above freezing , I decided on two visits today . The first to New Hythe to see if I could catch up with Siskin and Redpoll , as I usually see them there , then on to Cliffe Pools to see how it has changed since my last visit , many years ago .
Parking in Lunsford Lane , the plan was to walk to the railway and back , getting the two species mentioned , along with Firecrest , Jack Snipe and Woodcock . That's where the plan backfired , as I didn't get any of them . Over at the scrub area , I met a local birder Alan , who , embarrassingly , I had met there before , but didn't recognise him , sorry Allan . He was heading for the furthest lake to try and find a female Goldeneye that had been reported to him by Phil Sharpe . I said I would head back to the car and drive to the car park and have a look myself . As I said , I didn't find any of my wish list , but did photograph male and female Gadwall
on one lake and three male Pochard , dozing in the sun on another .I met Allan again as I finished a circuit of the lake , but there was no sign of the reported female .
I headed off to Cliffe Pools , arriving just after midday , just before high tide . The sun was still out , but a bitter wind was blowing across the pools . I walked the path between Flamingo and Alpha pools , towards the sea , but did not find much of interest , just Tufted , Mallard and a few Little Grebe . When I reached the end of Flamingo Pool , I met a birder from West London who was making a second visit , by public transport , to try and see the Shore Larks that have been around for some time . Quite a job with small birds in a very large area . As we were talking , large numbers of waders started streaming in off the sea , to their high tide roost on Flamingo Pool . Impossible to say how many , what looks like stones on this spit , are all Dunlin , so too are all those in the air , looking for space to land . The Dunlin alone must have run into 1,000s , then there were the Godwits and Grey Plovers and other species , quite a sight . Whilst watching the waders , I noticed a male Marsh Harrier , quartering the area some distance beyond the pool . I tried a few shots , but he was a good distance off , but this was the best effort . A local birder was kind enough to tell us some of the places where the Shore Larks had been seen , and we tried these places without success . But all was not lost , as whilst looking , I got this shot of male and female Goldeneye , once again at distance . I was starting to remember why I haven't visited for a while , everything here seems to be at distance . Several Greenshank were recorded , this one was ringed on both legs . When we returned to the original spot , another local birder had located the three Shore Larks , well , three heads bobbing up out of the vegetation , about 100 mtrs+ away from where we were standing , just viewable with binoculars . Sharing a scope , I got one good view of two of them , but that was all .
By leaving time , the day list on the two sites had reached 55 . I won't list them all as many were common , but a few of the other highlights were , 5 Snipe flushed from the water margins , a fleeting glimpse of a Merlin , whilst looking at waders , 7 Pintail low overhead before circling and landing at a distance and a Little Egret sitting in an Ivy clad tree behind the lay by at New Hythe . It must like a fryup , as the smell of bacon was driving me crazy on the other side of the lake .
16 minutes ago