Cath Dewhurst, resi-vol at NKM, has sent me this report:
Northward Hill from the Marshland viewpoint(16:00 – 16:30)Cuckoo WhitethroatNightingaleLinnetGreen woodpeckerGreat spotted woodpeckerPochardTufted duckGreylagLapwingRedshank
Cetti’s warbler near the car park bird feeders
Another report from David Saunders:
Another beautiful morning and another walk at the Northward Hill Woodland.
The insects are really hotting up now which in turn is what the birds are here for. A whole bush full of Long horned Moths floated around fairy-like, as the Nightingales gave it their all in the Hawthorn scrub. not merely limbering up as they were on Good Friday. Now they were in serious competition with Wrens, Blackcap, Robins and the many Whitethroats. It was like a Victorian London Street with them all calling out their wares and a joy to hear. I often stop dog walkers as they walk through chatting and point out the Nightingales singing their hearts out a few feet away. Once they switch their ears on, they are amazed !
Another bush had swarms of St Mark's Flies on it. I have seen Hobby Hawks feeding on these over water, whist they await for the arrival of their staple diet, dragonflies.
Quite a few Hairy Dragonflies were about so the Hobbys may not be far away.
Down at the Creek Bridge a Cetti's Warbler lustily burst out his unmistakable song as a Reed Warbler scritchey scratched in the reed bed. We stood there a while marvelling at the view and reflecting on the World War Two Communication Post and how different a world it is now, ironically as we recalled the dogfights of 70 years ago, above us a Buzzard was overhead being mobbed, as it rode the thermals, by a pair of crows, both showing complete mastery of the air.
Heron and little egret plied their way back and forth to the heronry hidden just around the corner.
A pair of Marsh Frogs added to the soundtrack. In the water below we could see the flopped onto the weed looking pretty relaxed, I expected them to disappear when we ventured too close, but they clearly had other things on their froggy minds.
Plenty of butterflies were about again mainly Specked Browns, Red Admiral and Orange tips. A Holly blue fluttered past and a Green Hairstreak male alighted on a gorse, unmistakable with its grass-green underwings (a first for me).
On the return to the car park a Chiff Chaff sat atop a tree, bring the warbler count to five without trying.
thanks again David!
I've just received this report from our regular contributor, David Saunders:
Such a beautiful afternoon, warm enough to be high summer. I started at the High Halstow car park and descended down the steps into the wood.
Plenty of butterflies danced around in the dappled sunlight, Speckled Browns, Red Admirals, Large and small Whites and the most vibrant Orange tips.
Walking to the viewpoint Whitethroats sang seemingly from every bush, Robins trilled from onhigh and seemingly the Blackcaps and Dunnocks were in competition, I for one wouldn't like to be Simon Cowell on that one.
Green Woodpeckers seemed to everyway, but to be honest I think it was the same two or three going round and round on the merry go round, and yaffling loud enough to wake the dead.
In the wood behind me at least two Cuckoos were calling. Up ahead I could hear the first tantalising notes of Nightingales limbering up.
On reaching the wood edge the view over Cooling Marsh to Essex was as stunning as ever. In the slight mist of the afternoon it wasn't difficult to imagine back some centuries when it sea, and Cliffe village was a port.
Heron and Little Egret could be seen out on the marsh returning to their nests.
As I stood there chatting to some walkers a Hairy Dragonfly landed on a nearby gorse, its' apple green sides complimenting the brilliant yellow of the flower.
My first dragonfly of the year and hopefully Hobby Hawks are not far behind.
In the Hawthorn scrub things were hotting up vocally with the Nightingales.
Returning to the car park the Bluebells were just out of this world and every now and then their delicate scent invaded my senses and stopped me in my tracks to drink it in.
For bio diversity Northward Hill takes some beating in my book.
Both lapwing and redshank were in full ‘song’, pewitting and yodelling whist proclaiming their territories in aerial display flights. Duck numbers have fallen away as expected but those loitering were looking very dapper. Some of the scarcer species at this time of year included shovelor, gadwall and pochard; let’s hope they hang on to breed. Sedge warblers were rasping away from the reed-lined ditches and the distinctive ‘pinging’ of bearded tit was also heard. A dash of sulphur livened things up with a fly-over yellow wagtail. Both grey heron and little egret ware busy at their treetop colony but struggled to complete with the din of neighbouring rooks. On the mammal front, a stoat made a dash for it and impressed all by swimming across a ditch; great to see, but let’s hope it’s not so good at finding nests!
A visit is a must at this time of year!
thanks to the warden, Jason Mitchell, for this report
The woods at Northward Hill were alive with birdsong on a beautiful sunny day. As well as resident species such as Blue and Great Tits, Robins, Blackbirds, Wrens and Chaffinches, summer visitors in the form of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were also very vocal. With many of the trees still to come fully into leaf, it was very easy to spot bird and there seemed to be a male Blackcap singing every few yards and a few females weighing up their options. Not to be outdone because of their lack of a sweet singing voice, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers also made their presence known with plentiful supplies of yaffling calls and drumming providing a constant backdrop.
There were plenty of butterflies around as well including Peacocks and Orange Tips flitting around in some of the recently opened up areas. All in all, somewhere well worth visiting, especially at the moment, as more summer visitors arrive and before the trees come fully into leaf.
Thanks to Les Edwins, resi-vol, for this report