Monday, 15 July 2013

Cliffe Pools 13-7-2013

Saturday saw Wendy and I take a trip out to Cliffe, it being July and scorching hot I did not expect to see much bird-wise and hoped that the Butterflies and Dragonflies would make up for this but it was a lifetime spot that made the day for me. From the Car Park a scan of Kingfisher Pool revealed a number of Black Headed Gulls, Coots, Canada Geese and Greylag Geese whilst the odd Wood Pigeon and Carrion Crow were in the woods behind us. The butterfly spotting got off to a quick start with a Small Heath, Small White and several Meadow Browns whilst Common Blue Damselflies abounded.
Common Blue Damselfly - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
The walk to Radar Pool gave forth Goldfinch, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, and several Comma Butterflies.

Comma Butterfly - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

From the viewing platform over Radar Pool I was slightly saddened that with the exception of a couple of Common Terns and 3 Oystercatchers the nearby islands had been taken over by Black Headed Gulls who were also making a huge amount of noise from the pool behind me, I am sure there was more variety on the islands last year. The water provided more Coots, Great Crested Grebes, a solitary Tufted Duck, a single Dabchick and some Pochard.
Unknown (to me) Dragonfly
On the way to Flamingo Pool I saw some distant House Sparrows and a Great Tit. There were more white butterflies along with the few blues however they remained unidentified due to their constant movement (hence why no Photos either) Fortunately this Cinnabar Moth happily stopped for a photo.
Cinnabar Moth - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

On Flamingo there were a number of Great Crested Grebes including a pair briefly displaying.
Great Crested Grebes - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Along the far shore were a large number of Bar Tailed Godwits all in summer plumage along with a few Lapwings and what I believe to be Whimbrel (though I am more than happy to be corrected to Curlew - the view through my scope was not any clearer than this heavily enlarged shot).
BH Gulls Lapwings and Whimbrels? - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
There were also 2 flocks of Avocets with a few Little Egrets and some Shelducks. The heat was getting to me so I returned to the car seeing a Collared Dove, a Dunnock and a Magpie on the way. I decided to drive round to the other side of Radar where sadly the water provided nothing new however I did find a pair of Whitethroats busy collecting food for fledglings.
Whitethroat - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
I was attracted to a small bush by some reeds from which I could hear some high pitched peeping (not unlike a squeaky wheel on a bike) and decided I was looking for a really small bird and then saw one flitting around at the back of the bush, I then saw some tail feathers of what I thought was a dove in the bush and the small flitting bird which turned out to be a Reed Warbler landed next to it.
Reed Warbler with young Cuckoo in background (apologies but autofocus latched on to leaves not the Warbler)
Then it dawned on me, the dove was a Cuckoo and I was watching a pair of Reed Warblers frantically gathering food for it. Whenever either of the adults returned the Cuckoo let out the high pitched squeaking which did not equate to its size in any way. I was fascinated and as they were unconcerned by my presence I was able to watch them for about 15 minutes, despite the length of time photo opportunities were very few and I had no wish to disturb them with random clicking.
Juvenile Cuckoo  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Other sightings for the day included a Heron flying low over the BH Gull island being heavily mobbed, a Green Woodpecker, a Cormorant and some Starlings, heard but not seen were Jackdaws and a Chaffinch. Other wildlife seen was a rapidly scampering lizard, a pair of young adult foxes and this dragonfly whose wings glistened with coppery sparkles my knowledge is poor on Odonata and I am going to plumb for a female Darter of some sort.
Female Common Darter ?
Only 26 bird sightings for the day, but a once in a lifetime experience with the Cuckoo especially as numbers appear to be plummeting (in fact this was the first Cuckoo I have seen or heard this year) so I was more than happy.

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