Cliffe Pools and Northward Hill on Saturday 5th of June

Having not had a good look look round for a week or two and been lucky enough to have been a volunteer Warden on Skomar off the Pembrokeshire Coast in South Wales, I was itching to get back to the marshes. As time was limited for the weekend I decided to get as much down at Cliffe and Northward as I could in a day. So I walked along to Black Barns, a solitary Nightingale sang his heart out in a hawthorn, I swear only about metre from me. Could I see him ? Could I 'eck !! It was like listening to an invisible canary in a cage.

     Onto the ponds and plenty of Shelduck, Redshank and Blacktailed Godwit. 33 Avocet were on Coastguards including a Mother with four almost fledged youngsters. In a field to the right another Avocet flew madly round the air space, presumably at some unseen predator.
      As I made my way back a Short-tailed Field Vole scurried across the path. Blue-Tailed Damselflies skitted amongst the track-side grass. Small Heath Butterflies chased each other over the fronds. It was a delight to see the Honeysuckle flowering well as I made my way over to Northward Hill. Passing Cooling Church I looked up at the Swallows and Swifts above and suddenly saw a Hobby Hawk banking steeply then a second and off they shot into the distance.
     At Northward, the feeders provided excellent views of Chaffinch, Blue and Great Tits, Greenfinch also fed. Being so close to so familiar birds gives the opportunity to appreciate their breeding plumage. A Great Spotted Woodpecker alighted, not 5 yards away giving me an excellent photographic window.
    On the reserve proper the floods had a variety of ducks breeding including Mute Swan with cygnets, a male Cuckoo flew overhead, cuckoo-ing as it made its' way to a reed bed.
    On the marsh Corvids fed and squabbled, I could see a distant Hare going into a tussock. A Green Woodpecker yaffled across my scope as I watched the hare wondering if she had leverets.      
    Time was getting on and I made my way down to the bridge. Holly Blues and Common Blues flitted on the path ahead.  Chiff-chaff sang from the tall trees and the Marsh Frogs sang their gargling song from the ditches below.
    At the bridge Red Tailed Damselflies chased Common Blue Damselflies away from their favorite sticks, overhead a Peregrine sailed across, whilst a male Kestrel hovered no doubt for rodents for hungry chicks somewhere.
    On the way back I saw a white banded Fly I had never seen before supping on a flower like a bee. I photographed it and later Id'd it as Volucella pellucens.
It doesn't appear to have a common name, so here is a photo of it, alongside another large insect on the car park fence I have yet to identify

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