Saturday, 29 December 2012

Garden Digiscoping

More digi scoping practice with some pretty horific results, i was pleased with this as it was about 50ft away and has just landed, it was a find target and shoot type of shot.

Although i did take about 180 and only got this one :) keep trying i spose

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Is it me......

or does the area around the Stone Barges smell of burnt Peanut Butter at the minute?
I spent about an hour and half this morning looking for the recently sighted Bittern over at the Members Only, No Public Access fishery at Ingrebourne but no joy.
(I have just been informed that i loose things, ie the last half hour has just been spent looking for a car key, she, being Mrs B, has looked everywhere, my coats, my jeans, my everything. After the "well what have you done with them" speach and just as she was about to launch into "this is ridiculous......" we located them; where? and you know whats coming...her coat)
Then this afternoon i decided to go to the Stone Barges for a brief spell of Digi Scoping. This is only the second time i have tried this, the first time i was in the back garden; no digiscope attachment yet so this is all just holding the camera up to the scope. As well it was getting a little dark but i think they are not to bad. 41 shots taken withthis little lot being the best.

Then finally popping over to Rainham for an hour and seeing the Snow Goose

updated - Rainham Blog now saying a Ross's Goose

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The best i could do - oh i need a camera!

I tried digiscoping it, too close. The old compact is not doing so well these days but im glad i went

The Queen Mum, Buffy and all via Hell

A London first apparently; it would also be a first on every list for me; subject to getting there in one piece.
Hell took its alternate name today, it called its self the M25. Tailbacks and crashes pretty much all the way round, the most favourable route seemed to be via the major crash at the Dartford Tunnel. The tunnell anti clockwise was shut and the queues were imense, i certainly wouldnt have wanted to be in that pile up, it was awful, i hope all are alive, it looked that bad.
It put things in a bit of perspective really, there i am on a jounrey to look at a bird when some of those families Christmas and maybe lives have just been ruined.
Should i have tunred back knowing what the rest of the journey was to be like, oh yes....did i? no, today i was a twicher, a low low lister but a twitcher.
Three tailbacks, crashes later and i had safely negotiated my through Hell and was in the safe surroundings of the Queen Mum.
I paid my £2 and was given my day ticket and directions
Within 10 minutes i was peering over the reservoir edge with about 10 others looking directly at a very obliging Buff  Bellied Pipit.
Note to Self: do not buy a house near a major airport - they were streaming in!
On the way round i found these Goldeneye x4, they are i promise - 2 male 2 female
And lastly a Great Northern Diver which also can go on every list posible
I tried taking some photo's with my dodgy compact and will load the best of a very very very bad bunch later.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Wax off? Ahh Wax on.....

I managed to fit a couple of hours in this after noon starting at the Stone Barges in hope of a Water Pipit, it didnt happen but some good numbers of varying gulls to wade through and an obliging Grey Wagtail.
Shortly after i decided to head for Mucking, just to see what it was like as ive heard good things, bad timing for me as although the Thames hide was empty the tide was way out and still going, i did manage Curlew x20 and a swirling mass of Avocet, after they settled i started a count c315.
Waxwings have been over at the Valley for three days now so i headed on over to Albyns Farm, nobody or no waxwings about so i spent the some time looking and listeneing for that trill.
Just about to give up when i bumped into Dmc who said those words.."you just missed one" but then on a tree to out left it was back and we spent easily half an hour on it, with Dave getting some cracking shots.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Hey, Get out of the car! Bastard!

I managed to get a couple of hours this afternoon and was heading over to the Stone Barges, however i decided that as i hadnt actually been in Rainham RSPB for a while (Bailons being the last time and even then the walk round to Butts was in the dark) it would be something different.
As i was heading up the old A13 news came in for Bewicks Swan x3, 2 adults and 1 juvenile, this was good news, not only a patch first but a life first and 2012, a London first and Essex first...oh the lists......
Upon leaving the center and heading down the ramp it was looking promising, two swans on purfleet scrape. One head later and my attention shifted form the Mutes and was draw to a guy digiscoping at the end of the ramp. Maybe he could help, no he hadnt seen them and at the moment a guy passing us heard the conversation and pointed them out over the far side near the Canada Goose flock.
courtey of

After some good scoped views i headed off to the bus stop in search of Jack Snipe; Snipe x2 but no Jack, a male Stonechat obliged at 5ft on the Reed tops, Black Tailed Godwit x3.
Heading into the Woodland area, the Redwing were in fair numbers with a single Fieldfare and a male singing Cettis Warbler.
Not that i needed a way to recall this however thanks to Bird Watching magazine (lates issue) who have now annoyingly planted "Hey, Get out of the car! Bastard! in my mind. I used to enjoy hearing this song lets hope i can forget the above pretty quickly.
Heading out of the Woodland and a Kingfisher sat neatly on the fence post by the stream on the left, promptly firing off back the way i had come.
I got as far as Barrets hide and decided to head back rather than complete a circuit. Back where the feeders are in the woodland i find my digiscoping gentleman who shows me a great shot of a Great Spotted Woodpecker that had just dropped in.
After a chat it turns out this is my second boozy birder i have come in contact with, Ron Colson aka The Brickfield Birder.
After a wonder back to the center with Ron i left for home with a final Ring Necked Parakeet x9 in the car park.
A really enjoyable couple of hours plus the added benefit of no dogs, i forgot what that was like. I've not been to Rainham as much this year, something to be rectified for 2013.
Ron - Great meeting you and see you again.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Pablo finds another

Information from Pablo Hawkins found me this morning jumping in the car and heading off to Grange Waters, South Ockendon for a supposedly easy first sighting for me of a Long Tailed Duck.

Arriving about 10.15ish i found the gates closed and parked up just outside; taking a wander down to the main center also found this closed. A quick call and directions received i found myself squelching trough a recently ploughed field, walking through a gap in fencing and then pushing my way passed some rather spiky Hawthorn.

Myself and two others @debbiejay and Russ Sherriff found ourselves with the bird on the far side of the waters:

Slowly after about and hour the bird started heading our way, rather aggressively having goes at both Tufted Duck and any Black Headed Gulls that came in its path.

After a little while i took a walk further along and found us all a better vanatage point with the bird now closer to us than the other bank, Russ at the front getting his shots, Debbie with her scope and me ready for home.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

100 Rainham 2012

Spent about 5 minutes over the Valley this morning, the fog and then the rain......
In the afternoon after dropping the family off at varying locations, i rushed over, yet again in the rain, to Rainham to pick up the single Waxwing. The closet views i have had and a new one for the Rainham List taking 2012 to 100
Now to catch up in the valley!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Will they stop?

Saturday morning with No1 son, parking today at the Albyns Farm car park. Fieldfare, Redwing, Pheasant, Great Spotted Woodpecker all before we got to Tit lake.
I was on a Siskin hunt today and had full intentions on spending the morning over the Berwick Side.
Tit Lake was busy, Canada Geese, Cormormant x2, Greylag, Coot, Moorhen, Black Headed Gull x23 and Tufted Duck.
By the time we got to the Lower Paddock he wanted out, so off he went around the Glades, only to find when i took my eyes off a small group off Greenfinch him standing at my side, head skyward with his hands forming an imaginary set of bins.
The rain came in and after chasing him about for a couple of minutes (didnt put to much effort in he was having fun in the rain), i strapped him back in the buggy and we headed off towards Berwick.
Berwick was good although not for Siskin, first i heard one, then another. I edged towards the area it had come from and sure enough, pottering around the margins a Water Rail. Shortly spooked by No1 son shouting "duck, quack quack".
The Valley just keeps giving up the goods for me of late - when will it stop?
courtesy of
Also had a group of 9 waders fly in to the main flood field by the small pond, unfortunatley in my excitement i missed getting a good look and identifibale features and then lost to the vegetation.

Smallish sized, light underneath, light to mid brown on top, downturned bill. Suggestions of Dunlin came in after a quick text out and after a wade through the Colins, they do seem most likely to fit what i saw. Shame really as if it were Dunlin that would have been another for my patch list.

The Valley list creeps closer to the 100 for both life and 2012.

Saturday, 10 November 2012


Saturday again...over the Valley however this time my dad tagged along with Me and No.1 son. Raining, not hard; but enough to make it unpleasant.
Dad's only been over the Ingrebourne once before and by the sounds of it went over the iron bridge to the top paddock and back.
We went first to the small stream behind the play for the last few months i've been looking for Kingfisher and Snipe, even at the birders beer the other Friday i was saying to Dick i was after Kingfisher - nothing, not even heard one.
So explaining to Dad, this areas good, its had Water Rail, Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher....whats that he asks as a bird darted towards us and landed on the first main tree over hanging the stream.....noooooo, Kingfisher and not only can you see it clearly, its still. The best views i've ever had before it vanished off back the way it came.
A Valley first and a 2012 first as well.
courtesy of
We headed on along to the main marsh not thinking we were going to get far as the rain seemed to be coming down harder: Cettis Warbler, Mixed Tits, Moorhens, Shoveller, Mallard, Teal, Little Egret.
The lower paddock seemed empty compared to last time, no Fieldfare only one Redwing, a few Chaffinch, Goldfinch & Greenfinch.  A Robin and Dunnock.
Heading back down now to the Iron Bridge and it turns out Dads not seen a Goldcrest, so we set about checking all the tit flocks as they flitted about. The first group were just mixed tit however the second group i hear the call, we tracked the bird in the bushes for a bit before it flew accross the path and into the other side - to far. A minute later and we could see it, not great but Dad got his tick.
We hung around and finally it flew to our side of the hedgerow and we were within 5 feet - great views!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Hardy's Green

I've only seen one Shrike - a Woodchat Shrike at the Retendon round about near Wickford, Runwell Road and this was back in April 2011, apparently eaten by a Sparrowhawk the follwoing day.
I've had a go at seeing more, dont get me wrong, ive not chased around the country at every report but i have been to Vange Marsh for a Red Backed Shrike, Fingringhoe Wick for a Great Grey Shrike and also Salcot Cum Virley for the same.
Today i finally managed to connect with the Great Grey Shrike showing at Hardy's Green, Colchester.
It was favouring the same spot it had been all week, just down the road past the Big Red Barn.
First hedgrow on the same side as the barn, then viewing to the bottom of it by the telegraph wires and poles.
right of the hedgerow

left of the hedgerow
I initially caught it in flight dropping down into the planted field above, staying down for a few minutes before returning back to the hedgerow, shortly after it flew to the wires to the right of the hedgerow and then further towards the road again on the wires before returning to the the hedgerow.
A good bird to see finally - Red Backed next

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Abbertick tick tick tick tick tick

It was not the intention to be going Abberton, although after realising how close it was to where i was dropping the wife and kids off this morning i thought it would be rude not to.
Firstly i went to the Layer Breton Causeway and arrived shortly after 11am, i had heard about the Bittern here and after a few initial scans nothing was on show apart from Shoveller, Teal, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Eyptian Goose, Coot along with Pintail x4 and Snipe x2.
Within a few minutes Mr Rob hornchurch fc Burgess arrived after photographing the Desert Wheatear over at the EWT center; apparently showing well.
Shorlty after arriving he shows me a Red Crested Pochard, life tick no1, and right under my nose then he calls a Bittern flying from the right hand reeds to the far bank, catching this in flight and entering the reeds it becomes life tick no2 for the day.
courtesy of
Deciding to head to the reserve to get a 2012 Desert Wheatear tick (managed to see one of these at Titchwell last year) i left him at the causeway.
The bird had been seen while Rob was here earlier in the car park, i wasnt so lucky, although viewable i was informed it had flown to the edging of the reservoir and was scope views. Slip sliding my way down, i found yet another local, Mr Russ Sherriff already here. He kindly directed me onto the bird and i got views for the 3rd tick of the day.
Then news of a Whooper Swan came in from one of the hides, how cool, this would be life tick no.3 for the day. After reaching the hide, three swans could be seen, all head down. After what seemed like an eternity slowly they started a little tidy up, Mute x2 & Whooper x1.
Also to be seen from the hide were Black Tailed Godwit x4, lots of Lapwing, Dunlin & Lesser Black Backed. 
Tick No5 came for a 2012 year bird; Goldeneye x2 male birds drifted infront of the swans.
courtesy of wikipedia
My luck didnt hold all day though, i missed out on the Stonechats from the visitors center, but i cant grumble at a great day at Abertick.
Heading back to pick the family up things got even better as i passed through the Easthorpe area; firstly i came accross Red Legged Partridge x4,  then a Kestrel tucking into a recent kill a Common Pheasant finally in a field just through Easthorpe what i intially thought were two Pheasants, then Red Legged Partridge, then enough to make me stop and get the gear out the boot along with the Collins - Grey Partridge x2. Life tick No4.
Great day - 45 species in total - 4 lifes and 2 years :)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Ticks Keep On Coming

On my own this morning i arrived at Hornchurch car park for 6.15am. Taking a walk to Ingrebourne Hill, back to the iron bridge along the lower paddock up to the fields, through the woods and back down the river. All in all three hours which produced quite a few ticks in one way or another.

The walk to the hill via Tit lake produced the same as yesterday although the numbers of Redwing & Fieldfare have gone through the roof night. Yesterdays count around this area was about 25-30 of each, today was easily in excess of 100 each.

The only change to this bit of the walk was a single Sparrowhawk.

The lower paddock and the fields came up with the goods today. The lower paddoock was buzzing with even more Fieldfare & Redwing all over the berries; i cannot imagine they will last that long.  

Yellowhammers, Goldfinch & Greenfinch could be seen in good numbers as well in the same area

Skylark were over, heading towards the hill.

Firstly a finch sized bird headed across the paddock calling as it went, i only got a silhouette and have not heard the call before. It was a sort of Pueww Pueww Pueww. No idea on that an i cannot find it after sifting through the calls on my phone or pc at home.

As well as this another call that i dont recall hearing before but this time i managed to follow it down to provide a Valley Life & 2012 tick - Lesser Redpoll.

courtesy of
Shortly followed by another 2012 patch tick - Goldcrest.

courtesy of wikipedia
Heading up to the fields i spent yet more time ploughing my way through the corvids and finally it paid off; Rook x3 right at the back amongst the Jackdaw & Carrion Crow. Plenty of Stock Dove here as well. Another Patch & 2012 patch tick

courtesy of

Saturday, 27 October 2012

3rd Patch Tick In As Many Weeks

I shook things up today on my usual Saturday morning wander over the Valley with No.1 son; well as much as you can do :)
Parking at Albyns Farm car park at 9.20am i got out of the car and heard the chatter of Fieldfare, spinning round i caught c30 leaving a tall tree and heading off towards Ingrebourne Hill. Great start and it got better, checking my phone it became clear that Fieldfare was a patch tick.
Things were going well, as i put Heath in the pram Bullfinch x2, over follwed by c25 Redwing.
The aim for today was to head up the path towards Ingrebourne Hill and a bit of sky watching; it wasnt to be, i was cold and i was moving, the poor little fella in the pram looked frozen in the icy wind. So we turned and headed for the viewing area hoping the trees would shelter us from the wind.
It did...
Tit lake produced, Gadwall x4, Shoveller x6, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Black Headed Gulls x9, Mallard, Coot & Moorhen along with a couple of Pochard.
The walk to the the viewing area produced all the usual suspects and so did the viewing area, however Wigeon x3 could be seen. Its only the second time for me on these at the Valley with the first seen back on January 29th when i counted 13.
Lapwing x49 headed over from the fields heading towards the houses.
40 species in total so not bad for a quick walk.
Heading back i cut through one of the woods and upon exiting i bumped into fellow local birder Andy, by all accounts we are of a similar level at birding with similar size lists over the valley. Andy had managed great views of a Buzzard being mobbed by Crows along with a few Goldcrest.
Nice meeting you Andy, see you over there again soon no doubt.
Fieldfare takes the 2012 list to 86 and another one closer to the 100 on the Valley life list.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Finally..its in the bag

The Snipe is a bird that i like, colouring, shape, bill...i like it; however they have eluded me over at the Valley and i have searched for quite a few hours this autumn, then just to rub it in reports from Dave & Shaun that they are seeing them....

I tried again yesterday taking a slow walk down the main viewing marsh but still didnt have any luck.

This morning though i went again and decided to view the flooded area along the main viewing marsh again and after about 15 minutes - jackpot, one Snipe.

A VAlley first for me taking the Valley 2012 list to 85 and the Valley life list closer and closer to that 100 mark.

courtesy of shropshire birds

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Back on the patch.....

Finally, after what seems like an eternity i managed a couple of hours over the Valley this morning and very enjoyable it was too. The Hornchurch car park to Tit lake return produced 42 species and excluded some of the more usual such as Goldfinch and House Sparrow.
As im still on the look for a Snipe i took it slow alow the main viewable marsh, water levels have been very high by the looks of it but now small amounts of muddy areas are on show.
Teal camouflaged well were very obundant along with Moorhen & Shoveller. In the farm fields vast numbers of Jackdaw & Crow but no Rook. There was activity every where and it was here where i got a 2012 first and patch first, Yellow Wagtail x2 flew low over my shoulder heading towards the paddocks.
courtesy of Jo Strong
Skylark were flying in groups of 3/4 towards Ingrebourne Hill nunbering around c20 and large numbers of Greylag & Canada Geese headed in the same direction.
Other than that, usual stuff, usual places

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Better than a Baillons....

Its taken three years; i've been taunted by calls and song; at times frustrated that i chose to do a "seen only" list for it.....
Finally this morning while taking out the rubbish i heard it again and this time managed to connect.
The humble Chiffchaff on the Garden List!
Seeing the Baillons prompted emotions of "nice" this morning i was jumping with joy!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Not Much

Well as you can gather i havnt been out doing much birding of late, in fact much of anything; work, home decoration and general family stuff taking precedent.
I have managed no more than 3 hours over the patch throughout September and even on those visits did not find too much; Green Sandpiper probably the most exciting.
Needing a new bird for the patch and year list i spent most of those hours looking for Snipe and Kingfisher around the viewing area and checking out every black Corvid that flew over in hope of a Rook.
A Snipe was seen though on the day previous to one of my visits.
Highlight of the month would be the Red Kite seen low over the fields at Little Haddam in Hertfordshire. Apparently its become a bit of a local attraction appearing in the local press.
Lets hope October allows more time out!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Baillons Crake takes Rainham List 2012 to 99

A first for me as this was the earliest i had been birding before, it was still dark and about 5.30am. After reaching the hide, front row seats had already gone and the first standing row was building. I took my place next to Tony who new the approximate area the bird had been seen the day before.
It wasnt long before a bird was seen in the channel just in front of Butts Hide; finally connecting with it for a bit before it vanished and wasnt seen again for some time. Not the best of views but they all count.
That takes the Rainham 2012 list to 99.
Also seen; a group of c25 Little Egret flew in, Water Rail x2, Little Grebe
On the way back from the hide i took brief stops at the jetties off the Northern Boardwalk: Snipe x4, Greenshank x6, Green Sandpiper, Redshank. A Hobby flew low over the reed edge.
Thanks to Howard and the volunteers who openned up early again; the reserve looked amazing that early as the sun came up slowly revealing the floating mist.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Morning After

Back to school means that Saturday mornings dance classes for the girls also has a new term and as such i was over Ingrebourne for 9.15 with No1 son in tow and for the second time after being out the night before with the local birders i was hanging.
The sun was already warm, not what i wanted, so after a decision i stuck to the main marsh and viewing areas all morning; until 12; heading from shady tree to shady tree.
There were very few people around and it was a really beautuful morning.
A showy Cettis Warbler, always good to see one of these rather than just hear, another Ring Necked Parakeet went noisily over.
30 Species in all but no Baillons Crake.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Top Paddock at the Valley

As i was passing the Valley this morning, i took a quick stop to wander along the path to the bridge leading to farm fields.

Whinchat on the posts between the Top Paddock and the next field.

Pheasant, Green Woodpecker, Mixed Tits, Dunnock, Canada Goose x15, Pied Wagtail, Chiffchaff, Woodpigeon.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Rainham - Any ideas on Wader? not a lot to go on.

A walk with the kids along the wall to Aveley Bay and back at high tide didnt provide to much however the kids got to see their first Wheatear that was on the concrete river edge about half way between the reserve center and the bay.
Also an unidentifiable (for me) small wader flying up river; all i got on it was a small white wing bar, feet protruding from tail feathers, white rump with a darker center line/area seperating it in half and no white area protruding up its back. Also its flight action seemed unsmooth.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Valley Home Valley Home

After dropping family off at Stansted i was back for 6am and over at the Hornchurch car park. I took a stroll down to the viewing area and up to the top paddock through the fields and back along the river.
The number of wildfowl from the viewing area was the most i have seen there; C20 Canada Geese, C15 Shoveller, easily C30 Mallard, Moorhens and Coots in good numbers; it was then i thought i had a Valley Year Tick with x3 Teal (wasnt until i got home that it turned out i had seen them in January). In addition there were Grey Heron & C15 Black Headed Gull.
The sky was also busy with small groups of the same flying towards the Berwick Reservoir which is where most of the birds on the lake eventually headed.
There was also a lot more Woodpigeon than last time i got there for 6.
Up at the Top Paddock a single Whinchat eventually showed on the posts seperating paddock and field after the farmer had moved on with his tractor a bit.
I also counted C95 Lapwing in the field which again seemed higher than i have seen before here.
Yellowhammer, WillowWarbler, Whitethroat, Dunnock, Chiffchaff, Greenfinch & Goldfinch all by the irn bridge before entering the fields.
Moving along the fields footpath a Kestrel headed over towards the viewing area and a little further on the Crows were giving a Sparrowhawk a complete battering; give it its due though, it took it well and then moved on reluctantly.
So just as i walked in the door at home.......a text: Redstart, Lower Paddock. Now thats just sods law, i normally spend a fair bit of time on the paddock but today i skipped it. To top it off it would have been a life bird as well.
Back i go, this time with all three kids in tow. Bumping into Dave & Russ who both had seen the bird. I got to the correct area and sure enough could hear it calling but after 20 minutes i couldnt find it. The others had returned as well and for all three of us it didnt show again. I wanted to hang around for longer but the kids wanted to get going.
One Redstart not going on the life list.

Friday, 31 August 2012

3rd Time Whinchat

Thanks to Shaun for keeping me in the loop about the Whinchats in the Top Paddock over the patch the last couple of days; after two failed attempts i finally caught two on the fence posts between the top paddock and field this morning. Dave Mcgough had seen, told Shaun who in turn text me! The Valley drums were pounding.
So a new one for the 2012 list and Valley Year list taking it to 83.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Ingrebourne Valley

I have not been out much over the last couple of weeks due to holidays and work; i did manage a trip last Saturday morning to the Valley and caught a Ring Necked Parakeet heading over from the woods (Optimist End) towards the Hornchurch Country Park car park along the river.
A single bird and only the second for me this year over Ingrebourne.
With no birding over the bank holiday it looks like some of these local lifers that have been popping up over the last couple of weeks have and will be missed putting my target of 200 on the life list by the year end potentially out of sight. Tawny & Tree Pippits along with Spotted & Pied Flycatchers from Wansted, Barking & Ingrebourne.

Update: and now a Wryneck at Wansted that i'm missing.

Update, Update: and now Spot Fly & Pied Fly at barking

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Ingrebourne Valley

Arrived this morning at 6.30am and immediately came accross what looked like a Peregrine over the reserve heading towards the Hacton Lane end. Didnt get enough on it for me to make a positive ID, wish i had as it would have been a patch tick.

A Pied Wagtail over the car park, first for me in a while at the Valley with the last one being early June. Heading towards the viewng area the Black Headed Gulls could be heard some distance off. The water levels have dropped a little and a small edging of mud was now on show; no waders for me today (although about 2 hours later reports of 4 Green Sandpiper).

On the bend by the Heronry a first for me, i actually heard a Bullfinch, so far all my finds of this bird have been silent ones. This was a male calling as it headed towards Tit Lake.

Tit Lake held the usual, Coot, Moorhen, Canada  & Greylag Geese, Mallard and Grey Heron.

Onto the the hill and it was depressingly quiet with the noticeable abscence of Skylark and Meadow pipit with more movement seen from this snail than birds.

Around the hill in the lower areas proved more fruitful though.

The Berwick Glades and Top Paddock came up with Yellowhammer, Linnet & Willow Warbler and i cut through the farm trails down to the river. Lots of Greenfinch, Goldfinch & Chiffchaff in the hedges on the way through plus 4 more Pied Wagtails in the empty fields.

No Swifts but plenty of House Martin still behind the hospital, along the river. 2x Sparrowhawk as you come off the bridge to the river path.

Further up by the gates a Kestrel hovering just on the other side of the river.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Ingrebourne Valley - Sparrowhawk

I got over to the Valley later than normal yesterday, about 10.15 and was supprised to see that it was extremely quiet; one other car in the car park, only a couple of dog walkers around the play area.

Not only that, there was little or no sound all the way to the viewing areas where a small group of about 10 Black Headed Gulls broke the silence. Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting also to be seen along with two singing Cettis Warbler.

On to the Top paddock via the Berwick Glades; Willow Warbler, Linnet and a lot of Greenwoodpecker, it was about now when Shaun tweeted to advise on a patch MEGA at the Hacton Lane end, he had just heard a COAL TIT singing. With no.1 son in tow i decided i would make a casual walk back.

Going over the iron bridge an abliging Sparrowhawk flew over head and in the area for a good few minutes before heading off towards the viewing areas.

courtesy of wikipedia
I ended up though over at Tit Lake with not much else to show for it, Mixed Tits (not Coal), Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Canada & Greylag Geese, Coot, Moorhen, Blackbird, Song Thrush.

I did manage to add two to the Butterfly list; Ringlet and Gatekeeper.

courtesy of wikipedia

coutesy of

Friday, 27 July 2012

Rainham Marshes - Whimbrel

Finally and with thanks to a computor virus that has over the last couple of days been chewing its way through my hard drive i got out; recovery disks in and a good few hours install, i managed to get over to Rainham for a bit.

Bird wise not a lot within the reserve; although earlier, Whimbrel, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper and Snipe x3 all seen from Purfleet Scrape. About five or six had gathered and looking but nothing in sight when i arrived.

A brisk walk along to Butts Hide and my ever increasing interest in the butterflies and moths resulted in my first Marbled White

courtesy of

Followed quickly by a Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell
Heading out of the reserve and over to Aveley Bay i was on the look out for Yellow Legged Gulls and Whimbrel both of which i havnt had this year. Not overly confident with the Yellow Legged Gull due to ID but they have been in the bay quite a bit of late.

In the bay were plenty of gulls a lot of Black Headed. No Meds amongst them. Lots of younger gulls and i managed to ID Herring, Lesser Black Backed & Great Black Backed; I did go over them time and time again but couldnt see any Yellow Legged, although thats not to say i didnt miss them.

Then from the back of the bay a Whimbrel took flight and headed to the other side of the Thames; a 2012 tick.

The only other birds in the bay were Great Crested Grebe & Oystercatchers.

Another Whimbrel on the way back to the center.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Swallowtailed Moth??

Is this a Swallowtailed Moth?? - My guide looks as if they are white/green but the one in my porch area looks more white/yellow.

Any ideas please?
Swallowtailed Moth - ??

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Ingrebourne Valley - Social Pigeon

Over the Valley this morning for 6am; it got off to a good start with a great view of a singing Song Thrush just behind the play area but sadly nothing much else happenned, the usual suspects all the way to Ingrebourne Hill; no raptors to be seen on or around it.

The water levels were abviously high so no waders. Mallard, Mute Swan, Pochard, Grey Heron and Little Egret x2.

view from iron bridge
This is then where i decided that wellies were more appropraite than boots; cutting through on the bike trail, it was pretty flooded and then the new amount of growth was huge so not only a boot full but i was soaked from the rain on the greenery; gave up and came home - short and a disapointing little trip.

Although the car park regular made up for it, initially on the car roof when one of the dog walkers appeared from the path over by the play area. He held out his arms, whistled and it flew straight to him landing on his hat where they both proceeded to walk to his car. Apparently he can walk his dog with it on his head sometimes for about an hour!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Rainham Marshes - Wet Legs & Greenshanks

Purley to increase this years patch list over at Rainham i madly drove over to Aveley Bay for Greenshanks & Whimbrel this morning in what seemed like apocalyptical rain. Visability was dreadful so rather than being able to view from one end to the other of the bay walking to various vantage points was essential.

I couldnt find the Whimbrel but managed to pick up two Greenshank as they flew along the shoreline and only then because of their calls, finally managing to watch them land further up the bay and get on them for a short while.

One things for sure, the top quality waterproof trousers i have are only top quality in normal / heavy rain. Sunday they decided they would give up!

Rainham Marshes 2012 is now at 94

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Rainham Marshes - Wood Sandpipers & Spoonbill

I was kindly invited to the local birders monthly beer last night and finally got to put some faces to the names i have heard over the last 18 months since i started birding. A welcoming and friendly bunch of guys; i had a good evenning and a reasonable head ache this morning. Lets hope my drunken state warrants another invite........

Yesterday Wood Sandpipers x7 were counted over at Rainham Marshes RSPB late afternoon. Hoping they would hang about for today i managed to get over there this morning. After a long wait they didnt materialise, although one had been seen early this morning. Then nothing for the rest of today. A couple of Green Sandpipers on view the whole time proved too much for some and after a while comments started to be floated about how they were Wood Sand; they were not, they were Greens but they happily none the less convinced themselves, ticked and left.

There was an adult Spoonbill to view from the same vantage point off the Northern Boardwalk. This would be my 4th Spoonbill, the first over at Vange, the second up in Titchwell with the last two both being Rainham. Up until now all have been Juv's and in my opinion quiet ugly looking things. This one did slightly change that view, the bill was a lot cleaner looking and the plumes were on show but over all i still think there pretty ugly.

It was also a nice addition to the year list.

couresy of

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Ingrebourne Valley - Curlew

I was fortunate to be given a pass for the morning and headed over the valley arriving at 6.30am. It was relatively clear with a small breeze although a little chilly. I parked in the Hornchurch car park and headed firstly along to the viewing area checking the small area behind the play area as i went.

Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Cettis Warbler, Song Thrush, Greenfinch, Blackbird along with a couple of flyover Common Gull before reaching the main viewing point.

Checking the smaller point first nothing of note other than a couple of Shoveller, it did seem very quiet down there. The main view confirmed it; not much at all.

Heading on towards Tit lake and as i approached the junction for the iron bridge a Lesser Whitethroat, the same spot as yesterdays bird; i couldnt see it so headed on. Cormorant x2 flew along side me and banking off towards the houses.

Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers seemed in abundance around the areas as you come down the path off the steep hill.

Wrens, Dunnock and a group of young mixed tits: Great, Blue & Long Tailed. No Coal Tit still but i now understand they are a local rarity along with Nuthatch.

Blackcap as you approach the bends before Tit lake along with a potential Garden Warbler (excluded from my count as i couldnt tell and didnt see it). However a Song Thrush popped up at this point right in front of me; always good to see close up.

Another Lesser Whitethroat, and after a while i gave up looking for Bullfinch at my usual Bullfinch spot.

Turning out of the bends approaching Tit lake i took a look left towards the heronry and got a great supprise, there coming over the trees were Curlew x2. They proceeded pretty much over tit lake banked left and headed towards Ingrebourne Hill no doubt heading Thames bound. A patch first for me and from what i have been told after a great record for the Valley.

courtesy of

Ingrebourne Hill didnt produce too much, a lot of Skylark and singing well.

After a couple of diversions around the hill i headed back down to the iron bridge and caught sight of a Green Sandpiper looking back to the viewing area before viewing the water and reeds from the Lower Paddock; Little Grebe and my now usual spot for seeing close up Reed Warblers failed on me today. However i got a cracking view of a Willow Warbler and for some time as it made its way round a very near tree, easily my best to date.

Nothing along the cut through to Abbey Wood; however a single Cuckoo on one of the dead trees over the far side.

Over at the top paddock, numerous Yellowhammer, Linnet, Skylark and more Willow Warbler in the Berwick Glades just there.

I then headed through the farmers fields to the river and back to the car, the only thing of note there was my one and only Swallow of the few hours out.

53 species in all, a patch first along with being another to add to my valley year list now standing at 81