Darting in the brambles


The Dartford.

I was the first person to arrive at Goldcliff Lagoons this morning , about thirty minutes before dawn. I wasn't alone however. As I sat in hide 1 peering out into the darkness I could see the vague shapes of lots of birds out on Monks Lagoon.

I closed my eyes and just listened. I could hear Lapwings calling with their distinctive "peewit" - to me they sound like squeaky toys being squeezed. The Lapwings were joined by the cackling and honking of Greylag and Canada Geese. Whistles of Teal and Wigeon ducks could be heard and the piping noise of Redshanks. In the distance the haunting sound of Curlews calling from the Saltmarsh.

Just outside the hide a Blackbird was breaking into song as the dawn chorus started. I love the song of the Blackbird and so I decided to quietly approach it and record it singing with my camera. 

As dawn approached I was joined by my birding pals in the hide. It was like a dimmer switch was being turned in reverse slowly. Gradually the light got brighter. The light was weird this morning. The clouds were quite thick and there was a mist rolling in from the sea and the salt marshes.

A female Marsh Harrier quartered the lagoons and up went the thousand strong Lapwing flock. I must say, there seems to be really good numbers of Lapwings on the reserve this year.

Lapwings with a misty backdrop

A Spotted Redshank was picked out on Monks by my friend Sarah . It gradually made its way around the Island and joined a small flock of Redshanks.

Spotted Redshank

Also on Monks was a small flock of Black-Tailed Godwits. They remained up until the Marsh Harrier started causing havoc and took flight.

Black Tailed Godwits

A female Marsh Harrier quarters the lagoons

I was keen to try my luck in Hide 2 as I wanted to try and see a Dartford Warbler. The bird or birds ( there is thought to have been at least 2 of them and maybe 3.) have been very evasive to me and have been a bit of a bogey bird. Throughout the week I have seen the reports of great sightings so I felt their was a good chance today of spotting one. The Dartford Warblers appear to favour the brambles bushes that are dotted around inside the perimeter fences. Several sightings have involved Hide 2.

So we sat in the Hide and waited , had a cuppa and enjoyed a chat. Unfortunately there was not even a sniff of a Warbler so myself and Paul Joy took a walk to the Seawall hide.

On Becs Lagoon were about one hundred Shelducks - quite a sizeable flock had gathered at high tide. Out on the salt marsh on our journey to the seawall hide there were about forty Curlews , we could hear them calling but I don't think the tide was high enough to push them in.

Apart from the Shelducks there was little else on this side. All the action was on the other side of the reserve on Monks. A Merlin and a Peregrine Falcon has been observed and the Lapwing flock was up and down like a yoyo.

We headed back around the reserve and decided to try our luck again in Hide 2. The hide was quite full with a quite a few eager birders. I scanned the three bramble bushes in front of the hide. 

These small areas of scrub had  surprisingly quite a few different species of birds -

  • Stone Chat
  • Reed Bunting
  • Goldfinch
  • Robin
  • Dunnock
  • Wren
  • Chiffchaff
Where was the Dartford then? Its been known to hang about with the Stonechats.

All the little brown jobs we were seeing were flitting up and catching small insects that were buzzing all around the brambles. Then something little that looked a bit like a Wren with a big tail flitted up . I could not help but shout out "Its the Dartford ". Everyone in the hide focussed their attention on the third bramble bush and up it dropped onto a thorny stem of a bramble.

The Dartford Warbler finally shows.

The tails is huge for a little bird thats not much bigger than a wren

At last I had some good albeit distant views of this busy little bird that was almost always on the move before it would disappear back into the thick cover of the bushes.

I managed to grab some video footage and a few record photographs. I am not going to win any awards for my pics or video but I am very pleased to get to see this little bird.

After the excitement and joy of seeing the Dartford I was then upset to see a rogue cyclist clambering over fences into the out of bounds area of the lagoon near the Seawall and then disappointingly proceeded to ride down along the fence line, up the bank then and onto the seawall. He rode all the way along the wall along Goldcliff Pill and down to the farm. The cyclist was in full sight of the wader flock on Monks who were disturbed on seeing him riding on the reserve and took flight. The cyclist cannot reasonably have any excuse to be in the out of bounds area at all.

It was soon time for me to leave the reserve. As I walked out with my friend Paul a female Kestrel came swopping by being pursued by a Carrion Crow that was mobbing it like crazy.

Kestrel mobbed by a Kestrel.

Lastly but not least - my friend Brian Chappell reached out to me and shared some pictures of two Egyptian Geese that he saw this afternoon on Monks. This species has been seen before but definitely not a regular visitor.

Picture courtesy of Brian Chappell


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