I've spent part of every morning this last week on the reserve and to be honest, walking the same patch and seeing pretty much the same birds every day, gets a tad boring, or at least it does for me.
This morning I decided to give it a miss and have a change of scenery and so drove out to the cliff tops at Warden Point. In my mind I was hoping to catch sight of a spring migrant such as Swallow, Sand Martin or Wheatear as they passed along the cliffs on Sheppey's northern coast. Unfortunately this morning until lunchtime, when a warm and hazy sun broke through for the afternoon, was gloomy with a cold E wind and this was accentuated as I stood up on top of the cliffs looking out into a murky Thames Estuary. It was bloody cold and as a result and through watering eyes, I saw bugger all, apart from the odd crow riding the thermals below. It was also noticeable how much more of the cliffs had broken away over the winter and tumbled downwards towards the sea, in some cases to sit halfway down as a small circle of turf with a bush still growing out of it.
The difference occurred as I walked back away from the cliff edge and below the taller trees and shrubs and hedges that back onto the cliffs, the cold air disappeared, warmth came down from the overcast sky and bird song was everywhere. This to me was experiencing what inland bird watchers must get most of the time, shelter, warmth and birds to match. If I'd of been on the reserve this morning I'd of had that cold wind for the whole visit and both I and the birds would of been keeping our heads down. Would I swap, no, but it was nice to be spoilt by such conditions for a change, I assume that inland bird watchers rarely wear thick winter clothing.
Anyway enough of that bleating, did I see anything worthwhile at all, yes I did actually. The whole area was alive with the song of Great Tits, Blue Tits, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Linnets, Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Wrens, etc. and I even saw a large polecat ferret run across the road in front of me - not a good animal to be loose in the countryside but it was gone before I could do anything. A nearby rookery was bursting at the seams with cawing rooks and I counted 47 nests, some still being completed. Then, all of a sudden, in the space of a few minutes, better birds suddenly put in an appearance all in one brief burst. Above me in some very tall populars, a Chiffchaff began singing, 18 Redwing flew across the road and what I at first thought was going to be a Blue Tit, turned out to be a Firecrest working its way through a hawthorn bush - great stuff!
Getting back to the car, I stood there for some time and soaked up this whole plethora of woodland bird song, noted violets and arum lily under the hedgerow, Slow bush flower buds bursting into flower and attracting bees and found it hard to believe that the wet, muddy and cold marshes were only a few miles away. Mmmm, there's a lot to be said for being cossetted by woods and copses at this time of the year.