Northward Hill

Visit to Northward Hill RSPB Reserve 21st of April 2013.

Waking up early with the sun streaming in through the window I felt it was time for an early Spring visit to my favourite Kent RSPB Reserve. I know the first day of Spring was a full month ago but today it felt as if it had finally arrived.

 At the car park it was pleasing to see so many vehicles, was a mega on the cards or was it as I suspected several groups meeting? The staff confirmed that Ringers, Kent Ornithological Society and Maidstone RSPB Local Group were all on site this morning.

 Over the car park on high as we saw a Common Buzzard riding the thermals, Jay and Magpie flew from tree tops, but I was here for migrants.

 Along the path I went to the feeders Tits, Blue and Great, fed alongside Goldfinch, along the scrub path toward the barn I could already hear the scratchy-scratchy call of Whitethroats as they flew up and down displaying, in fact playing and displaying became the order of the day.

On the Pussy Willow various bees fed on the Catkins including Buff-tailed and Red-tailed Bumblebee. Supping the white flowering Blackthorn were Hoverflies and the lovely, aptly named Beeflies, always a joy to see. A beautiful male Chaffinch sang from atop as did a Chiffchaff. Not yet singing unfortunately but still gorgeous was a Male Blackcap.

 Moving on a little, I heard Nightingale limbering up, the antitheses of Victorian Children, deep in the under-scrub. A way-away a Turtle Dove purred, so evocative of high summer but becoming rarer these days.

 At the viewpoint out over toward the Thames were Tufted Duck, Shoveller, Mallard, Shelduck with Coot, Moorhen and Little Grebe, further out were Canada and Grey Lag Geese grazing. Avocet were nearby and so to the action. Lapwing were displaying, accompanied by that distinctive bubbling call, a pair of Female Marsh Harriers were wheeling high up and trying to push each other off a spot way below in a reed bed they’d their eye on as a potential nest site. Drakes were relentlessly pursuing ducks around the skies to exhaust them. Black-headed Gull were in large numbers interspersed with the pure white winged Mediterranean Gulls.

Little Egret and Grey Heron were all over.

 Seen over the site today were also:- three Cuckoo, Lesser Whitethroat, Linnet, Redpoll, as I walked back I saw a hovering Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk hunting the wood. Cetti’s Warbler sang unseen in the reedbeds.

Several  Butterflies were out in the thin sunlight, Peacock, Red Admiral and Comma.

Reported by a few informed observers was an escapee Goshawk, complete with bells over the Marsh towards the Heronry.

Sunbathing on a small plank was a common Toad dwarfed by five large Marsh Frogs, not singing yet, how long has their winter been in the cold mud underwater?

So all in all a brilliant day at a brilliant RSPB reserve in a corner of Great Britain that needs preserving at all cost.  


The North Kent Marshes are a very special area and worth preserving at all cost.