Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Connaught Water

I was in Epping earlier and after reading Pauls blog the other day i thought i would head back to Brentwood via South Woodford (maybe a little out of a direct route but....). In taking this direction it would lead me to Connaught Water for the Mandarin Ducks.

courtesy www.cannon-fodder-forums.com
It was freezing, i was suited, the Mandarins; all 11 males and 3 females plus one Wood Duck looking individual were showing well but i didnt hang about to take in a proper look; tick; thank you and good bye for the Mandarin.

Upon getting back to the office i Googled "Wood Duck Connaught Water" quite a lot of entries for sightings of Wood Duck and this photo by renowned Birder / Photogrpaher, Les Harrison. Now it wasnt exactly the same but looked similar with the white head markings etc but seemed darker on the sides and underneath. I'll go back another day and take another look.

courtesy of Les Harrison

Other Birds Seen: Shoveller, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Canada Goose, Mallard, Teal, Blackbird, Coot,

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Foggy Valley

I decided to take my first trip over to Ingrebourne Valley this year and arrived at the Hornchurch CP car park at 7.30am; it was slightly foggy here but visability wasnt that bad, the temperature was 1 degrees according to the car.

I headed along to the viewing area counting Moorhen x54, Teal x23, Blue Tit & Great Tit along the way. A Jay flew to the trees on the right.

At the first viewing section i could make out Mute Swan x2, Pheasant, Song Thrush, Green Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Magpie, Black Headed Gull, Mallard, Wren, Little Egret & Wigeon x13.

courtesy of www.arthurgrosset.com
For the first time i headed past the turning to the bridge and up and over the hill; Long Tailed Tit x9, more Blue & Great Tits, Robins, Dunnock and Song Thrush.

I found the small Heronry in the trees; it will be good to go back later in the year. There were Grey Herons x9 up there this morning.

The pond yielded more Mallard, Canada Goose, Tufted Duck & Coot. I turned and headed back choosing to head up to Berwick Ponds.

Cettis Warbler x6 singing at various locations around the bridge.

The fog started to get a lot thicker up the hill so i cut through the trees using the bike trail. I spent time in this and the fisheries trying to find the Bittern, but without success so i headed off to the Top Paddock; a patch tick for me with a Ring Necked Parakeet flying over.

The fog at the Top Paddock was even thicker so i headed down to the lower and got some great views of the Yellow Hammer x6 there.

Other Birds: Blackbird, Grey Heron, Collard Dove, Magpie, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Carrion Crow, Possible Chiffchaff

4 Patch Firsts; Little Egret, Wigeon, Ring Necked Parakeet, Tufted Duck

Friday, 27 January 2012

Total Fudge

This blog is supposed to a record of where i went in conjunction with my software for what i saw regardless of a good or bad day.

I was looking foward to Wednesday, the pagers had been going off for a female Ferruginous Duck at the West Lake in Thamesmead, viewable from the Morrisons car park. I had a client to meet in Northfleet so on the way back it would not be long before i could be on a quick detour.

I grabbed the wifes car that morning, its bigger and a lot more comfortable than mine and set off; happily on my way and on the crest of the Dartford Bridge is when it began, something that had never happened to me before.

I look down at the dashboard and saw the frost warning light on; Actually thats not a frost warning light, thats a low on petrol light (so you know whats coming). I flicked the computor to show me how many miles i had to go, expecting about 12ish; no, it revealed the rather stagerringly low figure of  0, Zero, Empty.

I managed to get down the bridge and through the toll, up the exit and accross towards the Total Garage some way off on the edges of Dartford, thats when i started to jump, learch and realise that i wasnt going any further. In the Holiday Inn drive way i rolled and with momentum i bumped up the kerb.

The receptionist in the Holiday Inn confirmed that the neareast garage was the one i was headeding for.

Not to worry, cab there, fill a can, back in the cab, fill the car, back to the garage, fill up job done.

I open my wallet to find that i have every card possible, Donor Card, Costa Coffee Club, Driving License, Game Membership Card; NO VISA DEBIT, NO CASH.

A long walk was now in order, i dont know if you have ever walked in the muddy verges of a dual carriage way, espicially in a suit, but its not nice, the mud isnt just mud, its grease, oil, petrol & general dirt.

An hour and half the return trip took, i tried to do some birding along the way to take my mind off things, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Heron, Black Headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull (the gulls being on some lake to my right as i went to the garage). Redshank, Teal & Mallard along the muddy banks of a tidal river that i went over. Didnt help though, i was still thoroughly fed up.

So finally back in the car with a full tank, one ruined pair of shoes, one knackered pair of suit trousers - yep, skipped the bit about a friend coming over the bridge with two crisp £50's just as i got back to the car!

My day got better, apparently we have some form of AA on that car, they would have come to my rescue and i could have just sat there and waited - oh well, i can see the funny side now.

As for the Fudge, it didnt show

Sunday, 22 January 2012

And what happened was.....

At 6am the alarm went off and i immediately responded by giving it a huge whack into sleep mode. After a few more whacks the other half told me to get up and get out; she was tired but there was to be no lie in for her; the two eldest woke and started the usual noise in the bedrooms and then number one son woke wanting his bottle.

After one bottle, making tea for the wife i was showered, dressed and in the car; time was now 7.15am.

Finally arrived at the LB causeway at Abberton Reservoir 8.05am; numerous Mute Swan, loads of Shoveller. In addition there were Wigeon, Teal, Coot, Black Headed Gull, Littel Egret, Grey Heron, Starlings, Greylag along with a strange Greylag / Mute Swan Combo; it looked like a Greylag but it had a the bill of a Mute Swan. Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Gadwall - No Smew

A quick drive south to Salcott and there was also No Great Grey Shrike but the fields there did turn up Mistle Thrush and Red Legged Partridge x8.

Finally arrived at Fingrinhoe Wick 9.30am and Swallow Birding (Steve Grimwade) were there trying to drum up business for the tours and doing brief guided walks. Choosing to go my own way i headed off to Robbies Hide for the Glossy Ibis. Curlew c30, Avocet c45, Herring Gull, Grey Plover c35, Black Headed Gull, Little Egret. On the far bank a Buzzard, Brent Geese c60, Oystercatcher. Two Red Breasted Mergansers headed up river and a Rook landed in the trees to the left of the hide. No Glossy Ibis.

As i left the hide Swallow Birding were heading in. I headed round the other side of the North Marsh. No Glossy Ibis.

By now i was getting the theme for the day; No this No That and to make matters worse as i turned a corner heading back to the car Steve and the group were looking off to the right. Steve beckoned and mouthed Shrike.  I must of been no more than 15 steps away from them and as i looked it had flown. Now theres a suprise!

Time to go home i think; no, forget the Shrike forget the Ibis, just take a wander before heading back to the car and take it in.

Onto the viewing area looking over the river and marsh edge. Redshank, more Curlew, more Oystercatcher, Marsh Harrier, Glossy Ibis, more Avocet, more Shelduck...........hang on Glossy Ibis.
So was it a bad morning - hell no. Firstly TWO life ticks and one from the 2012 most wanted; Red Breasted Merganser and the Glossy Ibis.

courtesy of www.birdforum.net
Year ticks for the above two along with Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Plover, Avocet, Mistle Thrush & Rook

So; The Plan!

I have been feeling all week like going somewhere that i dont go that often; a little drive in the country; not that far but just far enough to feel like i had been somewhere.

Looking at the RBA bird map for the week the conclusion was Fingrinhoe Wick for the Glossy Ibis.

So the plan was to get up at 6am (not that early, normally up at 6.30am any way) be in the car and heading for Abberton Reservoir arriving on the Layer causeway for 7.30am and then; because its my plan; park by the wall overflow and there in all its glory will be the Smew.

I can then drive about two minutes south to Salcott cum Virley for the Great Grey Shrike and, even though it seems to like the afternoons, as soon as i arrive at the cross roads there it will be.

On to Fingrinhoe, park the car and after a quick scan of the marsh there it will be and just after i find it the second Great Grey Shrike of the day will fly to a tree just infront.

Back in Hornchurch for no later that 12.30 - what a morning

Friday, 20 January 2012

Mobile Birding - 2012 Most Wanted

Looking over the diary this morning i new i had some time between clients, not enough time to warrant going back to the office, so as is the norm with this job i new i would be parked up for half an hour before heading on.

I spend a lot of time cutting through to the A127 from Ingrave via Dunton Road and i always see various birds as i drive down past the farm and stuble fields. So far, theres a pair of regular Buzzard; in fact the other day they were both on the ground about 40 - 50 ft into the field chasing insects etc around the floor; Meadow Pipit; Jackdaw; Common Gull; Black Headed Gull; Herring Gull; Great Black Backed Gull; Blue, Great & Long Tailed Tits; Carrion Crow; Fieldfare. Theres a Barn Owl box in the grounds of the farm as well so it could also be good for my second species of Owl.

Any how within 15 minutes of being at the fields sitting in the warmth of the car 5 Red Legged Partridge came into view and slowly came towards the road. Not only a 2012 year tick but also a 2012 Most Wanted Life tick.

courtesy of www.djsphotography.co.uk

Abbs Res Sunday Morning; fingers crossed a few more off the 2012 most wanted

Friday, 13 January 2012

Basmati 2 Minute in the bag SEO

My first attempt at a 2012 most wanted and my third attempt at the Short Eared Owls over at Rainham.

By 2.30pm i was parked up by Tilda Rice and walking along the cycle path. This was the first time i had been over this section so wasnt to sure exactly what to expect or where they would be. After walking most of the way to the A13 i doubled back and just as getting to the little bridge by the divide between this section and the next i got a very brief view of my first ever SEO.

It rose very elegantly into view and then out of sight. Following the mound it then kept coming in and out of view and eventually came over to my side allowing two minutes of views eventually looking in my direction getting so i got a clear view of the face - superb!

courtesy of www.martinkessel.net

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Norfolk Accomodation

To keep the description short: parents - friends - daughter & husband have purchased a luxury static caravan at Pinewood Holiday Park which is in Wells Next To Sea, Norfolk.

It looks as if its half way between Titchwell & Cley on the coast.

It can be rented for week slots or three night slots (subject to availability as you would expect) throughout the year. It sleeps 6 people if two dont mind sharing the double bed or five if you do.

Its double glazed with full central heating with the lounge area having TV/DVD along with Free Sat.

Pinewoods has a well stocked grocery shop, coffee shop and launderette. A beach cafe also sells snacks.

The beach and holiday park form part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty set within a National Nature Reserve.

It looks pretty good on the price; ranging from £150 to £300 for three nights dependant on time of year but for migration times it should be at the cheaper end of the scale working out at approximately £30-£40 per person dependant on numbers sleeping.

No dogs & its also No smoking.

If you want to know more my contact details are under the "ME" page.

Mobile Birding

On the way back from a clients in Harlow i was driving down Eastwick road heading back to the A414 when a large group of Fieldfare flew from the trees on the left side of the road to the field on the right.

Only able to get a silhouette on them, my initial thought was Fieldfare, they seemed thinner more elongated than the Redwing i have seen in flight over at Tylers Common. I stopped and supprised myself that i was right!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Warley Place On Fire? No - But Struck Gold

After heading over to S-O-S this morning i made my way back and ended up passing Warley Place, earlier than i thought i popped in for a quick circuit on the hope of finding the Firecrests.

No such luck today; however i did get a few patch ticks and some more for 2012

Redwing x68 - Patch Tick
Chaffinch x4
Blue Tit x8
Great Tit x1
Blackbird x6
Goldcrest x2
Woodpigeon x1
Long Tailed Tit x3
Stock Dove x3
Wren x2
Carrion Crow x2
Kestrel x1 - Patch Tick
Nuthatch x1
Goldfinch x14

Doughnuts & Ice Cream to Pier But No Ticket

With lack of planning i headed to Southend for the Purple Sandpiper; the lack of planning being not checking what time the pier openned however parking by Rossi's Ice Creams parlour i headed on.

A great little walk with the smell of doughnuts from the shop and old ice cream to the bottom of the Pier found Turnstones x48, Sanderling x36, numerous Black Headed, Common, Herring Gulls & 14 Ringed Plover

At the base of the pier i found a single Med Gull mixed in with the gulls along with Brent Goose x6 & Oystercatcher x2

Onto the the pier for the Purple Sandpiper - oh im about an hour and half to early - its shut and not to open for some time.

Some really bad photo's to follow.

and here they are:

Ringed Plover



Bottom - Med Gull with 2 BHG

Brent Geese

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Mobile Birding

Driving to Roots & Shoots this afternoon takes me just passed the bottom edge of Tyler's Common - Jay for the patch

Friday, 6 January 2012

White Fronted Goose Had The Front To Move

Sitting at home this morning waiting for a guy to arrive to prvide us with a quotation for rendering the house it was fortunate that he called to day he wasnt turning up today and re arranged. Shortly after the pager and twitter alerts went off for a White Fronted Goose, found by Dave Mo, in the Top Paddock over at Ingrebourne Valley.

A 2012 & Patch tick, saw me asking the usual permissions to go. Within the hour i was parked by the Top Paddock to find Keith (who i know from Rainham) coming out into the road. He had looked in the paddock but found no Geese, so we headed off to look in the fishing lake the other side of the road.

Inital viewing; no Geese but within a few minutes Geese arrived from out of sight on the far bank. Initially we found a Greylag with a rather large and unusual white facial marking (Since posting Dave Mo has posted his shots and this bird is in them) and then another.

There was a little group now consisting of about 25 birds all facing the wrong way and then strangely they parted into two groups leavng a bird firmly on its own and in the middle, head on but at a slight angle so we could see facial and side markings - one White Fronted Goose.

So.........is this fishing lake part of the Ingrebourne Valley? Is it countable as an Ingrebourne Valley list?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Suited Goosanders Two Minutes for '12

On the way back from a clients this morning knowing the Goosanders possibly were still at Weald i took a flying visit purley for a quick '12 tick

4 birds, two Drakes & two Redheads

Thanks to Dave Mo for these pictures


Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Years Day

News Years Day found me at 8.15am over at the Stone Barges looking for Water Pipit, it was very mild, a little wind and relatively clear skies at this time.

I didnt get the Water Pipit but did get the year off to a cracker.....Feral Pigeon 8x on one of the barges....at least the year can only improve!

Redshank x12, Starling x20, Shelduck x2, Black Headed Gull x6, Lapwing & Moorhen all found along the shoreline with Great Black Backed x2 & Lesser Black Backed Gulls on one of the jetties.

Behind me Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Herring Gull & other mixed gulls flew back and forth around the landfill.

Next was on to the reserve which started with Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Canada Goose & Greylag on the new scrape.

The Woodland area held Blue and Great Tits in large numbers but i couldnt find any Coal Tits. There was a very obliging group of Long Tailed Tits that flew to a tree right in front of me as i was leaving this area. Cettis Warbler x2 heard but not seen in this area.

A nice pair of Stonchats in their usual spot along by the ancient tree stump and a single Ring Necked Parakeet squarked over head.

Just before Barretts hide i caught Peregrine x2 not up to much but it did send the Lapwing & Golden Plover up.

A Snipe from the boardwalk and Black Tailed Godwit x2.

Lee's Local Birding
The star of the day for me wasnt the immature Marsh Harrier seen for some time over the Aveley Pools fom Butts hide supprisingly.

It was however the Kestrel over the path up by Aveley Bay that just got closer and closer until it landed no more than 10 ft in front of me then hovered at the same distance and i stood there for about 5 minutes with it repeating the pattern before it headed off into the reserve. A Great Crested Grebe was diving in the surf in the bay.

Lee's Local Birding

Lee's Local Birding
Rock Pipt x6 and guess what a Water Pipit in with them

All in all a wonderfull morning; there was a buzz in the air around the reserve with everybody using the walkie talkies to get the New Year Day lists under way; last i new it was at 80; for me though i ended up on 58.

Other birds seen; Woopigeon, Collard Dove, Mallard, Little Egret, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Wren, Goldfinch, Grey Heron, House Sparrow, Pheasant (on the way over at Ingrebourne Valley as driving past), Common Gull, Golden Plover, Mute Swan, Linet, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, Teal, Wigeon, Robin, Moorhen, Coot, Magpie, Redwing


Well; just over one year in; 154 birds seen since October 2010 and 151 of those seen in 2011.

Its been a very interesting year, discovering places that previously i wouldnt have paid any attention to (Barking Bay), going to places that i have never heard of (Vange marsh for one).

Trying to work out the differences between the calls and songs of most things common has been great fun and i've improved no end. Digi scoping is still disastrous as seen by the photos posted but its amusing trying.

So with the Slaty Backed Gull under my belt from January as the biggest sighting of the year what have been my favorite moments;

Martin Garners gull ID day back in March was excellent; picked up a load of information from him and with the association he has with Dominic Mitchell we had access to the landfill site for the morning.

My favorite viewing wasnt the Slaty it was the Firecrest over in Warley Place followed by the Med Gulls at Two Tree Island from the hide looking over the Avocet nesting area.

Titchwell came up with the most variation in a day with 58 and it was made even better by being there with family.

Looking at the 154 found to date and seeing the information that has come in from "pagers" "blogs" "iphone apps" theres a lot of birds i could have seen and would class as the easier finds; its these birds i will try for this year.

So have i had a good birding year - i think so...............so on to 2012 - Happy Birding All!