Sunday, 27 May 2012

Ingrebourne Valley - Over the weekend

Not much time spent birding this weekend; an hour's quick walk Saturday morning to Tit lake and back to the Hornchurch car park via viewing area. The highlight being my second Garden Warbler in the same area as before, just before the heronry.

Then tonight i took a walk from the Optimist Public House end which was a first to see how far it was to the Hornchurch side (Only went as far as the footbridge to the woods) plus the aim was to find Kingfisher. That didnt happen but i got Swift, House Martin, Mallard, Moorhen, Chiffchaff, Green Woodpecker, Woodpigeon plus a patch first with a low flying Hobby; rufous trousers clearly on show, it headed towards the pub end car park on my return following the riverside.

Hobby seem to be in the area at the minute, 5 at Rainham on Friday, 1 over my parents back garden yesterday and this bird tonight; up until Friday i hadnt seen one this year.

76 for 2012 over the Valley

Friday, 25 May 2012

Rainham Marshes - again this week

For the second time this week i found myself over at Rainham, this time with my dad. We arrived about half eleven and as the tide was out headed up the river.

The now usual stuff on the way all the way to the bay, Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Skylark, Black Headed Gull, Herring Gull & Shelduck. As we got the top heading towards serin mound we got some good views of a Hobby, a year tick for me and a life tick for dad.

Moving onto serin, Linnit, Goldfinch, Whitethroat and then more views of Hobby, then another, another, another & another; a total of 5 all close, lots of flight feeding action going on - good to watch.

courtesy of Steve Round

courtesy of Paul Gale

Back in the reserve revealed much of the same as Wednesday and a few more year ticks for dad.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Rainham Marshes

I managed to get over Rainham yesterday in the sun; there was not much going on but the more usual species were very busy, building / repairing nests, collecting food for chicks. I was hoping to catch up with my first Sand Martins of the year but i didnt find any.

A female Wheatear was showing in the bay nicely until it got spooked by a dog a flew of towards the longer vegetation by the mud along with a single Swallow over head.

There were plenty of Chiffchaff and a few Willow Warbler around the Woodland area; a rather showing Cettis Warbler as you come to the reeds after Barretts hide. Its at time like this i wished i had got round to buying a camera.

As there wasnt much doing i decided to practice on Reed vs Sedge Warbler songs/calls. It was something i spent a lot of time doing last year and im pleased to say i got them right. 15 Reed vs 3 Sedge. There were more but these 18 were the only ones i could confirm by sight.

46 Species in all including Common Tern & Redshank.

I caught up with this family near the MDZ dipping area.

Work Patch

Finally found myself a lunch time patch: Woodman Road Cemetery. Only a short walk down the alley at the end of the road. Can be there in less than two minutes.

Found the alley whilst on a call earlier and todays birding revealed:

Jay x1
Magpie x2
Carrion Crow x2
Blackbird x1
Chiffchaff x2 - One heard one seen
Woodpigeon x1
House Sparrow x3

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Barking Bay - Bonapartes Gull

Its been an eventful weekend; after missing out on getting over to Barking for Saturday morning and then the Bonapartes Gull not being seen for a while i took a trip over Ingrebourne Valley where it has to be said the results were unblogable.

Attempt 1: So i took the decision to go over to Barking Bay anyway and confirm to myself that it wasnt there. At this time i wasn't aware of the significance of this bird and if truth be told i thought there wouldnt be that many there. I was wrong and soon realised that i neednt have bothered going at this time to confirm its abscense as along the bay there were a group of a lot more experienced birders than i who could all adequatley confirm it wasnt to be seen.

We hung around for a while and as people started to disperse i headed off further into the bay for a look about as i had spoke with Paul H last week and told him i would go over at some point. I got my first self found Common Sandpiper at the very far end along with Ringed Plover and a 2012 year tick in the form of Common Tern. More common types of mixed gull were to be found here: GBBGx1, LBBG, BHG and a few Herring. The tide was in at this time and the only bit of mud to be found was at this end hence finding the plover and sandpiper along with quite a few Shelduck here.

Reed Warbler in the cemex ditch, lots of Skylark in the scrub and Meadow Pipit seem to be favouring the works area.

Attempt 2: Came later that night with another great timed visit; arriving just after 7pm missing it by about 10 minutes.

Attempt 3: Arriving this morning there was already a smallish group on both sides of the river; phone calls going back and forth in a cooperated hunt. Finally the bird was found by the Kent side drifting down mid river towards us and soon views were had by all there. Our group then spilt with four of us heading further along the bank to get a little closer. We then stayed on the bird for a little longer but a small sail ship seemed to put it to flight where it was lost.

Kent side refound the bird again on the shore Essex side but this time two jetties up along from the bay. Our small group had been joined by another and we headed on up river past the outfall pipes and under the first jetty where we stopped and the Bonaprtes was found again by the next jetty. We were some way off but didnt want to get any closer.

Finally the bird took flight heading up river towards the Stone Barges and then eventually Rainham RSPB. From what i can gather its now back at Barking (4.37pm).

A token 1W Bonapartes Gull courtesy of and Ken Kaufman

Friday, 18 May 2012

Ingrebourne Valley: Double Patch Tick

I'm thinking of renaming the blog "Cheers Shaun"; he tweeted earlier about a Common Sandpiper and Shelduck over the Valley, neither of which i have had over there. After getting the kids ready for bed i was given the all important pass to leave.

By just gone 7pm i was at the viewing area; typical no sign of either. I hung around for a while but they still did not appear. A Little Egret dropped in and there were numerous Grey Heron. Rather then head home i decided to look elsewhere.

I was rewarded with my first ever Barn Owl, which i spent many an evenning last year looking for without success. The views were amazing as it came over my right shoulder while i was tucked in against a bush, slowed and then dropped into the long grass no more than 15 foot away; it wasn't a successful hunt. After, it took flight and headed out over the reeds.

It was my 170th life tick & a great patch tick for me at the Valley as well. Getting there slowly but surely.

courtesy of
I headed back to the viewing area for a last look before heading home and there on the small mud mound in front was the Common Sandpiper.

courtesy of wikipedia

I was pleased to see the Common Sandpiper as i have only seen one before, back in August 2011, over at Vange Marsh. The views then were Ok, scoped but only fleeting glimpses as it went in and out of view. This bird spent time in front of me. Constantly bobbing, white patches protruding up from the breast around the light brown bib; small flittery flight here and there (wing bar clearly seen) with more tail bobbing along with body bobbing as well. Cool another patch tick for the Valley.

Valley list for 2012 now at 74

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Lucky Little Owl

On the way back to the office after visiting Leyton i saw a bird land in the road ahead of me (i was in Bird Lane, Brentwood; running along the side of Old Slippery (was one of my favorite holes over the golf club)).

I slowed and as i got closer i new it was a Little Owl, an adult bird with something in its claw. It turned its head and then took flight over to the paddock.

Another for the life list!

courtesy of

Leyton - Melodious Warbler

For me today was the most unusual place i have so far been for a twitch; Oliver Road, Leyton, for the (info from Dominic Mitchell's blog of today) 10th London record of Melodious Warbler and a first ever for me.

first saw it here

then here

As i arrived at the junction of Oliver Road and Ruckholt Road the pager went off which was a relief as it had not for about an hour. The time was now 12.50 and within the next 5 minutes i was on the bird which was showing well in  the first light green shrub by the fence in the top photo. Shortly after it flew to the other side of the scrub area. This time it did not go to the holly it had been seen in most of the morning.

I got a further couple of glimpses as it made its way through the brambles. About 20 minutes later a warbler was seen flying to the garden opposite and thats where i left it.

I was expecting a dullish yellow to the breast and under parts but was suprised to see it looking rather bright; in addition, in the quiter traffic times it could be heard as well.

courtesy of

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Ingrebourne Valley - Lesser Whitethroat Lesson

I got back over to the Valley the morning; it seemed very quiet to me compared to yesterday. My main aim was to still find my first Valley Lesser Whitethroat.

Again i didnt go far, i headed from the Hornchurch car park to Tit lake and back. It was on my way back that i bumped into Paul Hawkins, we a had a chat and he led the way back to the car park area saying he had a couple there this morning.

Sure enough after a bit of searching and listening he picked them up again explaining what i should be listening out for; we picked up three singing in total with the last showing reasonably well for me to get my best views of this smart looking bird.

Paul - if you your reading, thanks for your help and nice to finally meet up with you.

Valley patch list now 72 for 2012

courtesy of

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Ingrebourne Valley - 1 Life - 3 Patch

I was heading to the Ingrebourne this morning; aiming to be there for 9.30am with Heath in tow as the girls were at dancing. My targets for this morning were Spotted Flycatcher and Lesser Whitethroat.

Shaun tweeted to say he hadnt seen either on his visit earlier that morning but had seen Garden Warblers. They would be a life tick so became my priority.

As i headed towards Tit lake via the viewing area the now usual Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler all showed.

The first patch first came as a Kestrel hovered to the right of the viewing area. I could also hear two Cuckoo off towards the Berwick side of the patch.

The constant listenning to the song of Garden Warbler on the way in the car paid off; as i approached the bend i caught the notes i had been waiting for, i stood for about 10 minutes looking but nothing. Then further along i heard another so took a wander. One life tick and accompanying patch tick; it was lowish in the scrub but clearly visable and gave me some good views for about a minute before diving lower not to be seen again. Cheers Shaun!

courtesy of

Upon arrival at Tit lake i found a single Egyptian Goose on the far island from the path - patch tick no.3

Not as many species today but i spent a lot of time loking for the Lesser Whitethroat - but it wasnt to be. However still managed 37 species while i was there and only took the path from car park to lake and back.

Also met Steve Smith on my way back - nice to meet you Steve if your reading.

Patch List for 2012 now 70

Monday, 7 May 2012

Ingrebourne Valley - Finally Bullfinches

I managed to get over Ingrebourne this morning by about 7.30 and had what must be my best venture into the Valley yet.

It started well with a male singing Cettis Warbler that then decided to pop up right in front of me just after the play area; In total 3 seen Cettis Warbler through the morning. Walking to the first viewing area were plenty of Whitehthroat and a Reed Warbler. The star around the viewing area was a Cuckoo sitting in the lone tree on the island. A first for 2012.

Plenty of Swift, House Martin and Swallow up on the hill along with Skylark and a single Meadow Pipit.

More Warblers: Blackcap, Willow Warbler & Chiffchaff.

For the last few weeks i've been trying hard to find Bullfinches. I've heard others seeing them regularly, so i've swotted up on calls and songs recently and this morning it paid off. Bullfinches x2 one male one female.

courtesy of

courtesy of

I also had what i think was a Spotted Flycatcher (see previous post).

A great morning, no rain, sun was shining and a total of 49 species, the highest for me over there to date and a few common species not seen today: House Sparrow, Dunnock, Goldfinch and Raptors to name a few.

It also takes my patchlist for the Valley in 2012 to 66

Ingrebourne Valley - Spotted Flycatcher??

Before i start getting into my morning over at Ingrebourne, i uttered two words whilst there that i have never said whist out birding, i dont know where they came from. The bird in question hasnt been on any of the local blogs of late and i havnt seen anything on any pager, alert system or twitter so its not as if i had the bird in mind.

However a bird landed no more than 10ft away from me with a clean view but for a very short space of time (few seconds). As it landed the words i uttered were "Spotted Flycatcher" along with a couple of others as its a lifer. I clocked what i could but in the short amount of time only got the head before it vanished off. I checked the i phone but i cannot be certain.

I beleive they have been seen a lot in the past in the valley so nothing unusual but im not counting it - too unsure.

courtesy of

Garden Chiffchaff

Last year i was taunted by a singing Chiffchaff at the end of the garden that refused to show itself and i will not put anything on the garden list until its been seen; so this year i now have two singing Chiffchaff's.

The first is frequenting the back of the garden and Haynes Park and the second favours the top of the trees in the back gardens of the houses opposite which can be seen easily above their roof line.

Two? yes heard them both singing at the same time this afternoon. so now double the taunting.