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Monday 27th April
Every Monday we will be visiting one of our nature reserves in the south-east find out which species of birds live there or visit during the spring and summer months.
Our chosen reserve this week is the RSPB Reserve, Northward Hill, North Kent.
On a ridge overlooking the Thames Marshes, Northward Hill includes a lovely bluebell wood where nightingales sing in spring. Over 100 pairs of grey herons nest in the trees, with what is one of the UK's largest and most famous colonies of little egrets, whose numbers have increased year-on-year since they first nested here in 2000, reaching an amazing 93 pairs by 2007.
The reserve also includes great swathes of flat marshes, where lapwings, redshanks, and avocets breed. In winter you can see wigeons and teals, buzzards, hen harriers and merlins.
There are many miles of trails through to the Heronry Viewpoint and some of the most inspiring views of the Thames valley.
Some facts about the birds you will see at Northward Hill.
Lapwing: In spring, lapwings come to the wet grasslands here to breed. Conditions have to be right for their chicks to be able to find food just after hatching.
Little Egret: Up to 50 pairs of little egrets have recently joined the grey herons in the treetop heronry at Northward Hill. These startlingly white birds are have only colonised the UK in the past 15 years.
Nightingale: Each year at least 20 nightingales breed in the hedgerows and scrub. Listen for their song in April and May. The Hoo Peninsula sustains more than 1 per cent of the remaining UK nightingale population.
Teal: Large flocks of teals pack onto the flooded grassland in winter. You can listen to their piping calls as they fly round in dense flocks.