top of page

Mistle thrush


1. male Merlin in front of female


2. Robin




4. Magpie


Roger Rabbit


gushing waterfalls



kingfisher small.jpg

3. Common Kingfisher

Nature Observations: Eastcliff(Mules)Park – February 2020

by Catherine Locke

Update -another kingfisher has been seen by the ponds exactly one year later Feb 2021


12th February

I saw and heard an unusual number of Great tits in the park today. I counted one

individual and 5 pairs calling to each-other in different areas of the park. I am

used to seeing a lot of pairs of Blue tits in the trees but Great tits are far less

common here, and Coal tits even less common. I walked the lower path towards the

Dell Path, and was delighted to see, near the Rabbit Bramble warren, a Song

thrush and a Mistle thrush close to each other. The size difference was obvious, the

Mistle thrush being our largest, at 27cms in length, and the Song thrush being the

second smallest, after the Redwing, at 23cms. The Mistle thrush is also a more

upright bird with a ginger back to the Song thrushes brown one, and a longer

neck when standing upright. The Song thrush sings repeated phrases 2-4 times,

often sounding like a mixture of the songs of other birds or a mobile phone or car

alarm. The Mistle thrush's song is also repeated phrases, but less varied.

I stopped to chat to a fellow nature lover and she told me that she had seen a Merlin

one day in the park, something I've never seen here. The Merlin is our smallest falcon at 25-30cms long. It eats small birds caught in flight, and in Spring and Summer a variety of insects also caught in the air, such as dragonflies. It often lays it's eggs in an old crow's nest, and would probably do so in a park, but in moorland would nest in heather.

Abundant Robins in the park, as asual, many warbling now. The males warble

loudly to show how strong they are and thus inform the females how good a mate

they would be, and a strong male would father a strong progeny. It is also a

territorial song, and females will sing in their own established territories, or give an

abrupt warning 'tik' if another bird or animal enters her territory.

Dunnocks are also singing in the park now. Their song is quite fast and unvaried in

pitch and not really melodious, but can be loud, and they usually sing obviously

from the top of a hedge or bush. The dunnock does a kind of semaphore with his

wings flicking one upwards then the other. they communicate to each other in this

way, and the males do it more dramatically in Spring to show how strong they are.

The Dunnock has unusual mating habits, in that you often see them in mating

groups of one male to two females, or two males to one female. Recent heavy rains

have filled the ponds in The Dell to overflowing, and gouged channels along all the

paths in the park.


16th February

After the battering of Storm Dennis yesterday and throughout the night and this

morning, there was an eerie calm, and I decided to go for a walk to the seafront

then up Eastcliff Walk to the park. A lot of birds had emerged from their shelters

hidden away as we had been during the storm. I saw a group of 4 Green finches, a

family I should think, in a tree near the Eastcliff Walk entrance to the park, a

couple of families of chattering Magpies ( the word 'mag' comes from 'nag' as they

talk so much, and 'pie' means black and white, so an appropriate name for them). A

lot of Robins about as usual ( I counted at least 21 on my walk). Going along the

debris-shrewn, soggy Lower Path towards The Dell I was completely alone. I saw a

lot more rabbits out and about than I usually see, mostly near their bramble warren

on the bank near to the right of the Lower Path, but two also crossed the path ahead

of me and disappeared into more brambles in the woods. Keeping at a distance and

using my binoculars I counted 13 adult rabbits and 3 kits, nibbling grass,

scampering and twitching their little noses so cutely. The sky was still overcast but

occasionaly the sun broke through and then the daffodils and celandines lit the

gloom. So many Blackbirds about, especially in The Dell. I counted 25 which I

either heard or saw in that area. It's a wonder that I could hear any bird song as

there was such a rush and torrent of water from the overflowing ponds, gushing

madly into falls, streams, and thence to one another. .I'd never heard the water

gushing so loudly here and I might well have been in the Lake District. A lot of

branches down, and only a couple of small dead trees that were covered in ivy which

acted as a sail in the wind and brought them down. A tall Echium plant had been

uprooted by the storm and I moved it from the path. The 'squirrel fence' near pond

No.2 was over and leaning against a tree. I managed to hear a couple of pairs of

Dunnocks singing to each other. At pond No.4 the sunny lights of the daffodils were

switched on under the trees at the far side of the pond and green and purple

Helibores were abundant in the large bed on the other side.  I was still surrounded

by the sound of gurgling and rushing water. It fell in a torrent down the steps of the

original watercourse, and rushed headlong under what I call 'Trip Trap' bridge.

Not a soul had I seen, just me alone with the water and the wildlife. I went over the

bridge, dodging a gouged river of water on the path, then over to the solid stream

bridge and up into the woods above pond No.4.  I moved large branches as I went

back on myself in a loop. I walked past all the overflowing ponds, and as I passed

the last I happened to look back across the pond to watch the fading light turning it

to silver, when some movement caught my eye. Something shot out from the bushes

nearby and landed on an overhanging branch over the pond. The turquoise back as

it faced away from me was unmistakeable. A beautiful jewel of a bird, a Kingfisher.

The first I'd ever seen in the park in the 16 years I've lived here! what a treasure of a

moment to take home with me.


Catherine Locke



Photo Credits

photo 1. public domain - from book Natural history of the birds of central Europe,

photo 3. Attribution and URL Shantanu Kuveskar / CC BY-SA (

photo 4.Attribution    Arpingstone / Public domain


bottom of page