Monday, 31 January 2011

BirdLife Malta


Spring is around the corner, and with it all kinds of events will be coming to life from our BirdLife Partners. BirdLife Malta has announced Spring Watch Malta 2011, a conservation camp which forms a crucial part of their fight against the illegal spring hunting that is rife in Malta.

Spring Watch Malta is scheduled for April 10th – April 24th, during the peak spring migration period in Malta and thus the period with the highest expected hunting intensity.

Malta has a chequered history of abiding by the EU Birds’ Directive, which rules such hunting as illegal. It was found guilty by the European Court of Justice for opening spring hunting seasons in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. While the case proceeded during 2008 and 2009, no hunting seasons were opened, resulting in two fantastic years for Malta’s breeding birds.

In 2010, following its guilty ruling, Malta’s government not only opened a one week spring hunting season, but also adopted legislation making longer future seasons with larger bag counts possible.

Legal proceedings were subsequently renewed against Malta last October, but in reaction, Malta’s Prime Minister defied the Commission by stating that Malta is ‘prepared to go all the way’ on spring hunting, even if this means being fined by the European Court of Justice. Hunters have been assured a season. Dates have yet to be announced. What will be in 2011?

Anticipating another hunting season being opened this year, Spring Watch Malta will act as both watchdog and deterrent to illegalities by monitoring the extent of hunting and collecting video and photo evidence to help police investigations

White Fronted Geese

Thank you to Rare Bird Alert, who paged me details today that up the road from my office where 4 White Fronted Geese, a bird i have not seen before.

So after a short car journey i found they and the Greylag they were accompanied by were not there.  Luckily being a local i new of some fishing lakes and one fish breading pond near by (300/400 yards), so after looking at the fishing lakes and i finding no birds, i headed to the breading pond on the corner of Berwick Pond Road & Little Gerpins Road.

After clambering a slighlt muddy bank in my suit :) i managed to be in prime postion to see the back end of the lag where a mixed bunch of Greylag & Canada Geese where both present. After 15 minutes of scouring birds with the heads down i was presented with sight of 4 White Fronted Geese.

White Fronted Geese

RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch

Didnt manage to get out this weekend due to family commitments but this did mean i could spend an hour with the kids looking into our garden;

It did not disapoint and we ended up with a new receord for species variation. ( Although i am new to birding in the field we have, since finding out about it in 2009 done the garden watch). Total this year = 18;

2009 = 13 & 2010 = 4

Nothing fancy but the usual suspects all turned up and made an appearance.

Blackbird; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Greenfinch; Goldfinch; Robin; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Green Woodpecker; Dunnock; Black Headed Gull; House Sparrow; Collard Dove; Wood Pigeon; Starling; Carrion Crow; Magpie; Chaffinch; Rock Dove/Fearl Pigeon.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Bar Tailed Godwit

New addition to the life list - Bar Tailed Godwit seen at the Target Pools in the RSPB Rainham Marshes today.

In addition the year list has increased by sight of a Snipe & Linnets (5) both from the Butts Hide.

BarTailed Godwit

Monday, 24 January 2011

Gull ID Day

Essex Bird Watching:

Looks like i have managed to secure a place on the Gull ID day with Martin Garner & Dominic Mitchell in early March - looking foward to it - their help will be appreciated

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Rock Pippit

Life List Increase by viewing 5 Rock Pippits along the Thames by Rainham Marshes today

In addition the year list increased by sight of a Green Woodpecker; Dunlin & Jackdaw

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Life List & Year List Increased by 2 & 4

Life list increased by 2 too 82 by viewing a female Sparrowhawk and Ringed Plover this afternoon.

In addition my year list was increased by 2 more by the sighting of a Little Egret and hundreds (c500) Teal.

All four were spotted at a 2 hour birding trip to Rainham Marshes.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Year List 2011 Increased

For some reason was struggling with this one round my way but on a trip back from Puckeridge this morning managed to get Rook ticked off the year list

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Field Fares

I have just been to see a client and on the way i managed to spot 4 Field Fares on grassland at the junction of Warwick Road, Aveley Road & Bramble Lane.

I know its a fairly common bird but for me its another to add to my life & year lists

Field Fare - Not Actual Bird Seen - Free Licensed Photograph

Sarus Crane News

Kampong Trach Important Bird Area has finally been designated as Cambodia’s second Sarus Crane reserve. This signing represents the culmination of consultative and bureaucratic process that began in 2006.

Sarus Crane Photgraph From BLI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Slaty Backed Gull Update

It looks as if the Slaty Backed Gull us still up for dispute, will leave life lists as they are until I hear otherwise.

Essex Bird Watching

Favorite Spots So Far

My Favorite Spots are not necessarily the rare ones; Yes seeing the Slaty Back was great but my favorite on my list so far has been the Bearded Tits, Waxwings & Pheasant.

Why these; well the Bearded Tits just look great and now are my favorite looking bird. The Waxwings became a mission as my pager was telling me they were all over the place but i never managed to see any so to spot 10 whilst out shopping was just a bonus to the trip and the pheasant because she walked out right in front of me and hung around for a while, nice experience.


Monday, 17 January 2011

Gearing Up

So after that first visit to Rainham and subsequently joing i needed gear. Now i wasnt going to blow a load of cash for my first purchase so after managing to scrounge my dads old scope and tripod, that i think had cost him about £80 for both some 5 years before hand, i then set about trying to find binoculars.

I found a great forum site and in there was a terrific information post. I then decided that i needed 8x42 and ended up on ebay finding a pear of Bushnell Nature Views (new & un openned) and some how managed to get these for the staggering some of £25. I think the person selling them either didnt care about the money or didnt realise he could charge more.

I am still using this stuff and if i am honest have already started looking at scopes for digiscoping and i am also hoping to get a better pair of binoculars as well (40th birthdays, you got to love them).

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Slaty Backed Gull - MEGA class

Fortunatley as part of my gearing up in November last year i stumbled accross a Birder who had a pager, he explained what it was about and after looking into it i decided that it was right for me.

And it paid off massively on Friday morning advising on a "probable" Slaty Backed Gull on the Refuse Tip just up the Thames from the RSPB center at Rainham Marshes.

Free Licensed Photo - Not The Actual Bird Seen

After spending all morning dithering about trying to decide to switch work from Desk Top to I Phone i got to the RSPB site at about mid day and after the 2km walk to the refuse site was greeted by about 8 or so other birders. Within the hour up to about 30 of us.

The guy who made the initial find on Thursday afternoon Dominic Mitchel had today been granted access to the tip and was perched on a mound (dread to think what he was atually sitting on) wearing a white hard hat, he was inside but to our left.

Suddenly a shout, the bird was spotted, in flight!

Now as a new birder i was feeling totally out of my depth with all these experienced Twitchers (some of which have seen over 500 UK & NI wild birds, and there i am on number 74)

Shouts from a few people now...Going Right! Turned, Coming At Us!, Turned, Left, Left! Got It, Got It!

Not me, not experienced enough to pluck a MEGA Gull in flight from about 500 plus birds.


About 5 had seen it and were discussing primary feathers, hood markings etc

After about an hour it was spotted, still, (as viewed by optics) just above the plank of wood (even though this turned out to be the top of a yellow vent pipe from tip).

By now more had arrived including true twicthers such as "LGRE" Lee Evans chairman of the UK 400 club.

All 30 odd were on it now, myself included. Wow - Birding since mid October some 11ish weeks before and there i am looking at a bird that had never been recorded in the UK and only once in Europe. This bird should be in somewhere like Japan.

After viewing the bird for a while and listening to all the discussions (keeping quiet so not to make a fool of myself) i left the area probably about 3.30 - 4pm.

I bumped into Howard from the RSPB site peddling madly up the Thames Walkway to get a view.

So after viewing i now had to wait for these guys to confirm if they believed it was truly a Slaty Backed Gull - turns out even now (18.11.2014) its still undecided.

The pagers now changed to MEGA - it would be manic the next day; so to feel what a mass Twitch would be like i managed to get over there again on Saturday, i didnt go to the tip but walked round the RSPB reserve. Looking through my binoculars i could see bank after bank of birder a mass of green, brown & black.

The RSPB site stated 1200, looked more to me but 1200 to view one bird that i am not even sure if it showed that day, luckily i saw it Friday :) Not bad as an Essex Bird Watching Birder


Essex Bird Watching Life List Update:

Slightly out of timeline for the blog as i am trying to catch up from October however on a quick shopping trip to Lakeside today and i managed to find 10 Waxwings nicely sitting in a tree in the car park. They even managed to pose for a photo.


Life List

Thats enough about me; I have added a page where i will keep my life list up to date and after Friday 14th PM 2011 im quite pleased with it.

Not a long list but growing all the time.

Hello All

Essex Bird Watching

Well, here goes; My names Lee and i started birdwatching 10th October 2010. I have always had an interest in Birds as my parents used to take me to various places namely Warley Place & Fingrinhoe Wick and whateveer we saw when we were in Dartmoor.

I had up till then seen a few different species but nothing of note (and until Friday 14th January PM) that was still the case.

Mixed Tits, Pied Wagtails, Blackbirds, Wrens. The usual woodland birds really plus others. Then nothing apart from garden birds until October last year.

All grown up with 3 children (with the wife quite happy looking after our newest addition), the two eldest and i were looking to get some fresh air one Sunday afternoon set off to Rainham Marshes.

We went with nothing. No RSPB membership, No Binoculars, No Field Guides,  No Scopes just really No Idea.

Upon arrival in the visitors center we were received well, we didnt quite quialify for the local resident free entrance so paid our money. The girls were given an eye spy sheet. We set off and if im honest saw nothing, i mean nothing.

Mainly due to being un prepared. Although relatively warm in Hornchurch, the wind coming off the Thames was cold for me let alone the girls. We gave up that day after 200 yards but being able to pop to a proper RSPB reserve so close, with all the expertise they have in helping new birders struck a cord with me.

I got home, logged on to the web and purchased a family RSPB memebership.