Saturday, 30 June 2012

Ingrebourne Valley - Saturday Morning Usual

It seems a while now since i had a proper wander on my own round anywhere so fingers crossed tomorrow will be the day; but for today it was the usual visit to Ingrebourne with H in tow.

A couple of hours flew past and while everybody else seemed to be photographing Little Owls i took a stroll from the Hornchurch car park to Tit Lake, up to the Top Paddock and back.

These little Saturday morning strolls are paying dividends it seems; im picking a lot more up via calls and songs which in turn is allowing me to spend more time on the birds.

Im a lot better at the silent Chiffchaff / Willow Warbler and according to the Bird Guides photo quiz my average score out of 10 has now crept up to 8, when i started doing it my first score was low; very low, to low to put here. Finding Garden Warblers over there now is a lot easier although i still wait to see these as theres still quite a few instances where a Blackcap pops up.

A Lesser Whitethroat banged out its "Tututututu" and was so close i got to hear the quieter warble before it went at it. It was buried within a bush and i couldnt see it, it went again; still no joy but finally it made a dash over my head to a tree behind me where i got a little but decent view before it went further and out of sight. I do like finding these birds at the minute.

A Barn Owl in its usual spot; a showie Cettis Warbler, well as showie as they get; a good number of mixed Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers; Willow Warblers & Yellowhammers up in the Berwick Glades all singing well. I only heard one Cuckoo today and didnt see it, it was off to the fisheries area.

A flyover Lapwing, Herring & Black Headed Gull

So we didnt get wet, the sun was shinning and it was nice and warm; the year list for the valley is up to 79 and i would love to get to 100; last years was 61 but i am spending more time over there now.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Walthamstow Reservoirs - Gannet

Ok; its a life tick and also one to add to my London list but its not really the vision of a Gannet i had in mind for my first. If i had wanted that i should have waited until i finally did a bit of sea watching or gone to Bempton or such like.

My only views of Gannets have been via the television, diving at great speeds into the ocean or sitting in large numbers on the edges of cliff faces. Now theres nothing wrong with Walthamstow Reservoirs in fact they looked extremely good and like most who glance at this blog, you will know what records have come from here so its certainly somewhere i will re visit.

I manage to find the entrance ok off Ferry Lane and bump into a local. I will keep his name off here for fear of getting him in trouble, but instead of parking in the car park he jumped in and we drove straight to the reservoir in question; not sure if you were supposed to do this but he's the local.

Upon getting onto the bank we found the Gannet lazing on the small tern raft just in front of the island, initially head down.

East Warwick Reservoir - Walthamstow

After a short while it brought its head up for the pleasing view of that lovely head colouring. It stayed in the same spot for the whole time i was there.

The bird in question was apparently a sub adult (3rd CY) and by all accounts, as with the lost/disorientated sea birds inland, has every possibility that it will be dead in the morning; lets hope not, as although not my vision of a Gannet view i would rather it fed up, got lively and went on its way because i thoroughly enjoyed seeing it.

A 3rd CY Gannet courtesy of
Not the bird over Walthamstow

Update: Gannet still alive the following morning seen at 8.39am

Ingrebourne Valley - Green Sandpiper

Usual walk this morning over to the Valley; again parking over at the Albyns Farm car park, we stayed for about an hour an half.

A small raptor, dark on top as it banked towards us and headed off. I dont know what it was but it did seem very small, smaller than a Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. Unfortunately i didnt get any markings due to no.1 son wanting to move onwards.

The usual bits on tit lake so we headed on towards the view area. The water levels have reduced slightly and from the smaller viewing area a Green Sandpiper stood motion less with its head tucked away on the concrete boulder. I continued watching for a while when some Mallard got spooked by something and it took flight heading towards the main viewing point. As it took flight, it had no wing bars, the white tail feathers did not continue up its back, the black bars on its tail looked quite thick and it had dark legs rather than brown.

I then found it again on top of the rock mid way and shortly after it flew of towards the iron bridge.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Windy Valley

Parking at the Albyns Farm car park, I headed up the tree enclosed lane towards Tit lake; nice and warm in the sun, sheltered from the wind. I was with no. 1 son and we headed up towards Ingrebourne Hill.

 The wind was rather strong and he was doing his best but it was knocking him sideways. So we turned back, found a nice secluded spot and sat back and watched the birds go by.

He sat playing in the grass while I sat listening. Initially a Chiffchaff sang from the tree top in good view. House Martins started flying around getting lower and lower. Wren, Dunnock, Blackcap all hopping from shrub to shrub singing there way round. Mixed tits darting all over the place.

Whitethroat in song flight.

As we sat for longer a Lesser Whitethroat started right in the shrub next to us; well within it and unviewable. It carried on moving around for quite a while but then finally revealed itself.

 Really pleased with finding that as it's now the second one I've found since bumping into Paul the other week.

A few Swifts up high and a Kestrel fly over. No1 son decided he now wanted to walk off and see the "ucks". Usual stuff on Tit lake. Heading back to the car and by the small pond I stopped to listen to the Reed Warbler which then showed for a while. A very quick visit and unusual as we didn't go anywhere.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Ingrebourne Valley - List Topping

I got to Ingrebourne for 09.00am and was there until about 11.30ish and managed to have my best visit to the Valley so far with a species count of 53.

I'm really pleased with how today went as i managed to see all 53 birds and a lot were tracked down by song or call.

There was the odd exception, like the Garden Warbler that turned out to be a Blackcap on four occaisions before i managed to get it right; however the Garden Warbler finally showed itself over by the heronry.

The highlights including a few raptors; a pair of Kestrel which i managed to view for a while along with what i thought was a Buzzard later on in the morning (not sure on that one so left it off the tally)

A female Bullfinch around tit lake; Meadow Pippit & Skylark on Ingrebourne Hill.

Over in the fisheries i saw my first young Great Crested Grebe with their black and white strippy heads.

I got a good recording of a Yellowhammer over in the Berwick Glades below the Top Paddock and hope to put it on here if it cleans up ok and one of them had a good background song of a Willow Warbler in it. This particular bird then afforded me my best views of this species to date.

A couple of the easier ones not on the list today; Long Tailed Tit & Goldfinch.

So nothing new today for any list but it was a great morning with i think a lot learnt on the calls and songs; a few more bits seemed to fall into place!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Rainham & Ingrebourne

I took a stroll along the wall today from the RSPB center to Serin Mound. I had no intention of going and listenning to the Marsh Warbler again but it was a nice morning and it didnt look that busy; a quick few minutes and nothing but the Grasshopper Warbler reeling off to the right.

Upon passing back a lady had the Gropper in here scope, so i took a quick look before heading back to the wall.

I had bumped into Dave Morrision on the way up and had a brief chat; nice to see you Dave.

Deciding against a walk around the reserve i headed to the valley; the highlight being 4 Cuckoo's, all four came over the Marsh and i was in Abbey Wood, the first continued on but the remaining three, 2 male and one female settled in the tree to my right.

I stood for about a minute watching them, the males "Cuckooing" with the female "Bubbling"; i presume all to do with courtship before she flew and the males took chase.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Rainham Marshes - Marsh Warbler

So at 7.15pm i was given the green light to go over to Rainham, for both Black Tern & Marsh Warbler, but for the Black Tern, i new i was pushing my luck as it was a few hours after the news had come out, if it wasnt there i could still try and get a listen to the mimicry of the Mash Warbler from the same vantage point.

View down from Serin Mound over Hayfields towards Wennington Marsh

No Black Tern but the Marsh Warbler was singing rather well. At about 8.15pm a all 7 of us were looking down into the Hemlock / Cow Parsley, not sure which, when up popped a Marsh Warbler, for a very pleasing tickable view. Then it dropped down and nothing more apart from more mimicry for another hour and fifteen minutes, which was nice ti listen to, before the light started to fade.

A Marsh Warbler courtesy of

However we also managed the reeling of a Grasshopper Warbler to the right of serin mound, a Hobby came down and along the ditch finally to land on the metal fencing to our left.

Then for me another life tick in the form of a Corn Bunting, on the single tree in the hay fields over Wennington. You could easily hear it rattling away and as long as you had a scope the views were distant but good as the bird sat at the top of this tree for some time.

courtesy of

In Aveley Bay: Shelduck, Redshank & Oystercatcher

Then to top off a good couple of hours as i drove back past Ingrebourne Valley one Little Owl just round the bend passed the Optimist PH.