Saturday, 31 March 2012

Rainham Marshes - Garganey

The now usual routine of heading out on a Saturday morning with No1 son took us to Rainham Marshes with the sole intention of ticking off Garganey for the year and hopefully providing better views than my only other time of seeing this bird last year.

Arriving at 9.30am just as the drawbridge went up, i had a chat with Ruth who advised they had been seen the previous day from the platforms. I headed for the 2nd platform as you move round from Barretts Hide.

A quick scan found both found drake and female at the far bank directly below the gap between the two MDZ buildings as a reference point.

Good views for a bit but they then went into some longer vegetation; shorlty after they emerged again for some good views but all scoped.

courtesy of

Friday, 30 March 2012

Ingrebourne Valley

I tried to get to Rainham this afternoon but arriving at the new A13, old A13 roundabout it was closed, Aveley was gridlocked as well so i headed back to Ingrebourne Valley.

I initially stopped at Belhus for a first visit for about half hour: Chiffchaff, Greylag, Canada Goose, Kestrel, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Robin, Long Tailed Tit, Moorhen, Coot.

Onto the Valley which tunred out to be a great afternoon with my most successful trip over there to date.

Parking at the Berwick Woods car park i headed over to the Top Paddock, Chiffchaff's singing everywhere it seemed; Greenfinch, Goldfinch & Linnet. A Pheasant in amongst the horses. By the field just before the bridge a single Red Legged Partridge.

Across the bridge and a Skylark rose singing from the sweetcorn field. One of the things i have been working on is flight identification of Rooks, Crows and Jackdaw; so as the gun went off over by the farm house (or whatever it was) i got the oppertunity as from the fields a lot of Crow and Jackdaw took flight.

A single Yellowhammer, Redwing, Dunnock, Wren, Blackbird and Songthrush in the lower paddock. Greenwoodpecker as well.

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From the Lower Paddock onto the lake and reedbed Little Grebe x2 one looked as if on nest, Mute Swan, Greylag and Coot.

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A Cettis seen by the iron bridge but lots more singing around the area.

The viewing area came up with only my second viewing over there of a Reed Bunting both male and female. A lone Green Sandpiper as well.

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Over at the reedbeds i caught what i thought was a Willow Warbler initially but it landed and sarted to sing...Chiffchaff; but it did point the way to a my first Male Blackcap of 2012 a few branches higher.

A couple of Stock Dove proved to be a patch tick along with the Redwing taking my Valley list now to 72.

It was my best trip to the site with 42 individual species over a couple of hours.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Thorndon Country Park

Saturday morning; girls at dancing; me and No1 son took at quick trip to Thorndon for an hour. We didnt venture far from car par 2:

  1. Blackbird
  2. Blue Tit
  3. Carrion Crow
  4. Chaffinch
  5. Chiffchaff
  6. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  7. Great Tit
  8. Jackdaw
  9. Jay
  10. Long Tailed Tit
  11. Magpie
  12. Nuthatch
  13. Robin
  14. Song Thrush
  15. Stock Dove
  16. Woodpigeon
  17. Wren
The stars of the show being a group of 6 Jackdaw making a hell of a racket chasing each other up, down and around a dead tree.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Rainham Marshes - Expectations

I left work fairly early today and was at Rainham after being at home for a bit by 12. It was a lovely sunny warm day and i was eager to get over there for two reasons; No1 = Chiffchaff, No2 = Little Ringed Plover. I know its a bit repetitive but i really enjoy the song of a Chiffie and as for LRP's i cant quite put my finger on it but i like them and Ringed Plovers.

I took a quick walk along the Thames to Aveley Bay; Rock Pipit, Curlew & Dunlin being the highlights, no Wheatear.

Back at the RSPB reserve i had just left the center and was heading down the ramp when somebody walked past in the other direction, the face was familiar but from where i didnt know; then i realised it was Jonathan Lethbridge who i had never met, i introduced myself and we had a very brief chat; he'd been over at the Stone Barges for an Iceland. It was then he said something that got me thinking; he said that Rainham was a either "a bit of a blank" or "was blank".

The "thinking" being about your expectations as you progress within birding; the same as my expectations used to be in golf; par to 4 over = great round; 5 over to 8 over = normal; anything over that = bad day at the office. So an Iceland Gull and a Little Ringed Plover must be his normal round which makes my excitment over a Chiffie song and the LRP's a bad day at the office for him.

"Blank" maybe to a single figure handicapper but to my equivelant eighteen this was going to be a round to remember.

So did i play out of my skin or was it a normall round?

I managed three 2012 year ticks in the form of Little Ringed Plover, Chiffchaff and Spotted Redshank. The Spotted Redshank being the 3rd time i have seen this bird. Even with the LRP's it was only my 7th viewing of these. The Spotted Redshank was also a patch tick for me at Rainham.

Water Pipit & Rock Pipit in different locations; Rock Pipit from the Marshland Discovery Zone and the Water Pipit from the ramp towards the Purfleet Scrape hide.

I managed 53 species this afternoon which i consider to be playing off my handicap.

I realed in the song of Chiffchaffs from the Woodland Zone and found a very well hidden Snipe from Barretts Hide, only to find another sitting out in the open a foot to the left.

I was about a minute from viewing an Iceland Gull and a group of Med Gulls from Butts Hide onto the Target Pools but a Peregrine decided to show just as i did and scare them all up with most gulls heading off towards the tip.

Redshank, Curlew & Black Tailed Godwit surrounded the Spotted Redshank, viewed from the Northern Trail onto Aveley Flash.

Some Others: Mute Swan, Pintail, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Skylark, Black Headed Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Herrig Gull, Common Gull, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting, Lapwing.

So the round would of consisted of mainly pars, a couple of birdies and few boggies, i dont think there would have been any eagles but most certainly no double boggie - would have put the clubs away feeling happy as i did when i put the scope and bins way.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Stone Barges - Kumliens Gull

This morning i was hoping for the pager to go off for both Iceland & Kumliens Gulls, both as i understand it species of Iceland Gull neither of which i have seen before.

Just as i was leaving to take the wife and girls to ballet it happened via Twitter with Paul Hawkins saying he had just had it. So a good start.

By about 9.10am i was parked at the Barges with No1 son in tow. There were already about 20 odd people there (and still being new to this, i didnt recognise anyone).

No1 son was making a reasonable amount of noise in his pram, nothing to put off the Gulls out on the Thames but possibly get a reaction from a birder or two; i didnt fancy a debate about his murmurings this morning so decided to take myself off down river a little.

No1 Son at the Stone Barges today
I found a large group of Gulls and set about the scan; all Black Headed Gulls, a little further out in mid river another group; a mix group of Common, Herring, Lesser & Great Black Backed, of varying ages.

Another group contained a mix of the same but the last few birds caught my eye as i stopped on a Gull considerably lighter than the others surrounding it. On closer inspection it wasnt the Kumliens but a Second Winter Iceland Gull. Now i new they were about but i was really pleased that i managed to pick it up myself.

I started to head back towards the barges as a group who i walked passsed earlier had been on the same bird. They were all scoped in my direction so i could at least confirm my sighting. Yep, a 2W Iceland but they had also been on the Kumliens which had flown off to the far shore and i was running out of time.                                                                                                                            

I made the decison to head back to the dance studio and took a stroll back to the car; ok hadn't seen the Kumliens but i had got the Iceland.

Back at the car i unpacked No1 son from the pram, took his warm weather gear off, strapped him in to his car seat, took my gear off, loaded it all in the boot, got in an started the car when....

Snap decision, out the car, gear back on and back down to the river; a lot more people had arrived from the walk from the reserve now and all were fixed on the pier / jetty on the far side. Again i was told this time by David Bradnum that it had gone to the shore but was tucked way behind the jetty.

My self and two others then took a walk back to the same spot i had seen the 2W earlier and straight away after scopes were up all three of us got distant views of the Kulmiens. Not great if im honest but views none the less.

Other Birds: Water Pipit, Shelduck, Jackdaw, Linnet, Dunnock, Feral Pigeon, Cormorant, Teal, Wigeon, Wood Pigeon, Moorhen, Grey Heron

courtesy of Paul Hawkins

Actual Info on the bird can be found on his blog rather than just my ramblings!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Its a dead ringer for?

Ok - a bit morbid - but can anyone let me know what this was please? Surley its a bit early for young to be at this stage growth this early in the year or even hatched?

Comments appreciated

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Thames Chase

Whilst the girls were at dancing Saturday morning i took the oppertunity to try for the Green Sandpiper that has eluded me every time ive been.

Arriving at about 9.30am, i was getting No 1 son ready, when Rob pulled up; after a quick chat he decided to join us down at the scrape.

We came out from under the bridge, turning the corner when two bike riders came from the scrape....oh well no Green Sand this morning.

As we got to the scrape though it was still there at the back edge. New one for the 2012 list

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Heath was warming up to Rob by now and wouldnt leave him alone so whilst he was scanning the scrape he had a permanent attachment to his left leg. He started getting fidgety (Heath not Rob) so we left him (Rob not Heath) to it and took a wonder.

We got back to the car and before we got out of the Thames Chase drive he was asleep (again Heath not Rob)

Other Birds: Yellowhammer, Kestrel, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Stock Dove (fields on far side), Green Woodpecker, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Mallard

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one worn out son with his dad

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Green Winged Teal - Maldon

I mananged to get over to the River Chelmer today for the Green Winged Teal; reports came in that it had been showing shortly after the A414 bridge this morning.

Parking at Tesco, i joined the river to see a birder some 400 yards ahead. Herring, Black Headed & Common Gull as i came onto the walkway to my left with a single Mute Swan.

I continued under the bridge looking at all the Teal i could see, which meant it took me 10 seconds as i could only see two.

Mallard x5 along the edging along with Mute Swan x3
Continuing on i found my 3rd, and BINGO, Green Winged Teal x1. It was walking on the mud bank on the far side with really good views before it flew off up river to stop at the bend just before the reed beds start.

It wasnt far so i headed up and managed even more viewing. I looked up river to see two others now with scopes out viewing something so decided to join them.

They were on a Water Rail however when i mentioned the GWT neither had seen it so we all headed back. Got views again for another 5 minutes or so which is where we all left it (bend by the fallen tree just before the reed beds start).

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One of the two guys i met today was Paul Baker from the Southend Area; nice to meet you Paul if you read this.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Unexpected Ingrebourne Patch Increase

Whilst driving past the top paddock yesterday afternoon i got an unexpected patch increase for The Valley; a Red Legged Partridge ran out in the road, for a brief second it looked as if its life as a Valley bird was soon to be a lot flatter as it disapered in front of the car immediatley ahead.

It reappeared heading back to the road side verge on the top paddock side after its near death experience.

Valley List now 70

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Scaup - 2012 Most Wanted

Finally, after reading DMgHX Birding i took my 4th attempt at the Drake Scaup over at Stubbers OPC this morning to find it immediately sitting with the Pochard and Tufted Duck on the front lake over in the sheltered far side.

Luckily finding it straight way meant i wasnt there long and got to the office nice and early.

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Stubber OPC front lake

Other birds: Green Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Common Gull, Black Headed Gull, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Little Grebe, Mallard, Cormorant, Coot