Sunday 26 April 2020

Green Urban Birding: Chattenden Woods Loop: 24th April 2020

Thursday’s amble out left me with more to do and so, after my first Swift of the year had drifted over, I set out early to get myself up at Chattenden Woods.  This meant retracing my route home yesterday to get out there but even then I managed to discover another path I had not yet trodden that cut across the wheat fields to the Strawberry tunnels of Dillywood adding not only a few more singing Skylarks and another Yellow Wagtail but my first Feral Pigeon caught while still in its solar charging point.

Solar Powered Pigeon

Strawberry Fields...

The final piece of this path created the best tunnel yet and I was just hoping that no one else was coming the other way!  White Campion, Shepherds Purse, Periwinkle, White Dead Nettle and Doves Foot Cranesbill were flowering on the verge and on the bank down near the lettuce field a number of Nomada fucata were investigating various holes although I saw no Andrena flavipes.  


White Campion

White Dead Nettle

Shepherds Purse

Doves Foot Cranesbill


Nomada fucata
St Mark's flies were even more prolific and Orange Tips were flicking around the now tall stands of Garlic Mustard while Charlock was a new walk species.

Garlic Mustard
St Mark's Fly

Spanish Bluebell? - just the one
There were plenty of bumblebees around and many Nomads but they would not settle for proper scrutiny. 

Quite a lot of Rhubarb
At the end of Common Road the path headed up through an orchard to the woods.   These orchards have always seemed very quiet despite the abundance of bloom with just a few Goldfinches twinkling as I made my way up. I skirted the woodland for a while listening to Green Woodpeckers and numerous Blackcaps and Med Gulls and Buzzards spiralled high overhead with both species attracting me with their calls.


I was now above the area where I had the chorus group of Nightingales before and they were still going strong but I also had two new males in the piece of Chattenden Woods where I was too. I spent a blissful 15 minutes with one of these serenading me from only a few yards away. I saw him very well but left the camera by my side and just soaked up the experience. 

Orange Tips and Brimstones were on the larger paths and a Red Admiral was only my second seen but I have not really found any water yet to look for early Damselflies.

Tutsan - Hypericum androsaemum - I hope!

Much of the woodland is private with yet more Pheasant activity revealing the nature of the exclusions but I refound the bridle path that took me over the top and down to Cliffe Woods village from where I could see RSPB Cliffe (and a whole wealth of extra species!) in the distance.

Towards Shorne marshes, the Thames and Tilbury Docks

Buzzard - two pairs were above the wood
But to go on much further would have been foolhardy so I cut back past the paddocks with their poo poking Jackdaws and Magpies through the village and then onto Lillechurch Road where a WWII Pill Box lurked by the road before taking the permissive path all the way backup to Hermitage Road where a micro Rabbit obliged and then the bridle path back to Dillywood and home. 

Common Wetthroat

Scratching that itch



Saturday 25 April 2020

Green Urban Birding: The Wainscott Camp Loop 23rd April 2020

My day started off in fine fashion with rattling male Lesser Whitethroat in the garden. A most unexpected and welcome addition to my lockdown garden list and taking me to 63 since the 23rd March.  It was already warm when I headed out on my walk and up to Rede Common where a Lesser Whitethroat was also rattling away before heading north out of town along a newly discovered path that ran behind the houses and above the Grain road.

Rede Common - looking south

male Andrena sp

Blackcaps were singing along its length and I have not added up my figure from all my walks so far but it is by and large one of the commonest birds I encounter, even in built up areas.  My theme of finding tunnels, be they man made or natural continued with this particular path.


I passed some innovative chalk pavement games which had obviously been done by a parent trying to enthuse their kids to come out for a walk.  They went on with instructions for running, skipping, twisting and high fiving for about 200m!

My route took me to Wainscott Camp, another MoD operation that I never knew was here. The active part of their Plant Training facility with lots of big green JCBs but it would appear that most of the camp is now derelict and much of it has full access and will warrant further exploring.

A pond at the farm had the first Sheep I have seen on these perambulations as well as some noisy Marsh Frogs in the duck pond!  As I reached the top of Woodfield Way I could immediately hear two Nightingales belting out behind the big fence and as I turned onto Lochat Road which is now closed to traffic, I found two more from within the same huge MoD compound.  The road has gone wild and had butterflies and dog poo bags strewn along its margins attesting to the usual use for this quiet place.  Orange Tips and Peacocks predominated but a Comma posed for a snap.

I may go back and explore this bit... where's that Hoopoe?

Green Woodpecker


The surface deteriorated further and my map told me that I needed to hang a left onto another MoD path through the Bluebell woods. A totally out of proportion prefab bridge spanned a tiny trickle of the first stream I had seen.

I could hear another Nightingale up ahead and soon came upon a pocket of birds with five males giving it large. It was superb and took me back to my first birds at Hainault Forest with my Dad about 35 years ago.

The track led me back to the Haven Street with one more Nightingale bringing up the ten before starting to wend my way back homewards past the young orchards and raspberry tunnels of Common Road and then onto the northern end of Dillywood which I followed past huge Rhubarb fields before the familiar route back.

These Poplars were just about to start flowering

St Marks flies were dancing around every clump of Alexanders with their legs dangling in a sinister fashion as is their wont and a Green Veined White stopped briefly.

St Marks flies

St Marks Fly

Just look at those legs...

Green Veined White
The immaculately tilled fields that I snapped with the Woodpigeon back on the 8th are now coloured up with what I presume are tens of thousands of baby lettuces in a variety of forms. I am sure the local pigeons will now rise to the challenge.

8th April
23rd April

As I dropped down the Gravesend Road I discovered the most amazing hand painted front door that I have somehow walked by a few times in recent weeks.  There is always something new out there to discover.