What can be better than a day in the sunshine with a group of jolly friends, listening to Nightingales sing? – Well, that was just what happened with the group in April – not only that, but one Nightingale in particular sat high on an exposed branch and allowed the twenty of us an excellent sighting of it; a real treat as they are so often elusive.
With the sun shining and spring having arrived there was a cacophony of tweets, warbles and calls. Near the seawall close to a reed bed we heard the explosive call of the Cetti’s Warbler and briefly saw it as it flew speedily from a stunted tree to a hedge thicket. There were Blackcaps, with their shiny black heads and Chiffchaffs too. The Chiffchaffs are just returning from countries around the Mediterranean where they have spent the winter. A small olive-green bird conspicuous by its ‘chiffchaff-chiffchaff’ song sang vigorously in the treetops. Apparently, some stay in the country over the winter, and it is the new arrivals that sing the loudest.
The butterflies and insects are becoming more conspicuous and we saw two Adders that basked lazily in the sunshine and also heard our first Cuckoo of the season.
It was a disappointment that the public is still not allowed to visit the new hide but most likely we wouldn’t have had any fresh sightings from it. With the tide well out the waders were quite a distance from the hides and seawall, but fortunately we had three telescopes amongst us, which made identification easier. Ruffs were present but the males were not yet showing their distinctive neck-ruff; the Ruff is another summer visitor favouring inland marshes and wet meadows although some remain all year. It was interesting to see the birds developing their summer plumage – for example the Black-tailed Godwit now has its brick red colours.
We lunched at tables in the sunshine near the Teepee, used for story telling to children and Steve entertained us with this joke – ‘Doctor I feel like a Teepee’, the patient said – on the next visit he said ‘Doctor I now feel like a Marquee’ – ‘aah’ said the Doctor I have a diagnosis: ‘You’re too tense’ – brilliant. After lunch some went home and others remained to investigate other parts of the reserve.
Birds: Blue, Coal, Great & Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Sparrow, Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Nightingale, Skylark, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow & Cetti’s Warblers, Linnet, Cuckoo, Collared Dove, Pied Wagtail, Green Woodpecker, Magpie, Jay, Crow, Wood Pigeon, Feral Pigeon, Buzzard, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Coot, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Greylag, Goose, Redshank, Avocet, Dunlin, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Egret, Cormorant, Black-headed Gull.
Flowers: White & Red Dead-nettles, Blackthorn. Daisy, Dandelion, Ground Ivy, Pussy Willow Gorse. Broom, Celandine.
Other: Rabbit, Adder, 7-spot Ladybird. Butterflies: Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Brimstone, Painted Lady, Wild Forget-me-Not, Speedwell, Primrose, Cowslip
‘Our Patch’ (16)- Wednesday 27th April meet 2.00 Burnham Marina Car Park
Wednesday May 11th 10.00 Tiptree Heath – the Warden will be joining us, (meet in the car park) & Shut Heath Wood (Bluebells)