Monday, 30 December 2013

Tit Lake - Geese

More from my first go with the new camera this morning; Canada with a single Greylag amongst the group.

Tit Lake

New Camera; Canon SX50HS......this photography is harder than it looks.......i was interested to see how the new camera i picked up yesterday faired straight of the box, it was about 8am, light rain, pretty dark and windy. I will put picks up as i have gone through them but for starters a Fieldfare, just cropped a bit.

This is my first camera that has had more than one button so i've been reading up today on what you camera guys have all been going on about for the last three years of my life since i started birding, ISO' etc. All today's efforts though were on AUTO

Still no idea so will carry on with the read.

Fieldfare at Tit Lake

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


The intention was to be heading to Minsmere, however after a chat with Russ at the Xmas dinner I decided that a nearer venue was in order, as such I headed to Abberton with my dad.
Leaving after the school run, we arrived on a chilly Layer Breton Causeway for 9.30am. It seemed fairly low on numbers, looking quite empty. A brief scan from side to side didn't yield anything out of the ordinary so we set about taking a good look.

Layer Breton Causeway

2 Snipe were to the left edge (as we looked away from the center side of the causeway), I had a look at all the swans; nothing but Mutes. Greylag took flight from the back left and headed off in the distance which seemed to send the birds around the back and out of sight slowly to the middle. This is when dad picked up a Male Goosander; a first for him.


Not much else on this side other than large numbers of Pochard, Tufted Duck a few Gadwall and Pintail. 

A male Cettis Warbler was sang from the left reed bed.

Crossing the road and looking back to the reserve i find a Female Goldeneye amongst the Pochard & Shoveler. There were few gulls lazing about on the water all Common & Black Headed.

Grey Herons, Cormorants and Little Egret all on view from this side as well.


After an hour we headed to the reservoir; we proceeded to the new planted area and followed a couple of small paths to the back and the works area, two muddy pools held Mallard but after a while a Green Sandpiper flew calling from over the mud partition onto the other pool, Fieldfare "chacked" on the trees to our left, whilst Meadow Pipit started to take flight and move around us. Two flocks; one in the trees was a group of mixed Tit and the second, a group of Linnet went over head.

15 Snipe then left the muddy hill taking flight and headed off to the fields, its the first time i've ever heard a snipe doing their take off call.

We followed the fencing round towards the reservoir to find another Goldeneye which then turned out to be one of 8 on this side, a mix of male and female; one male even doing the courtship head banging.

A couple of Skylarks over.

Mixed Gulls; all the usual's, GBB, LBB, BHG, Herring & Common.

More of the same as expected apart from a Marsh Harrier patrolling the near shore area.

Back into the center for some food to find a sign saying weekends only and i was starving....oh well. It was hear we heard about a Red Head Smew back at the causeway.

Layer Breton Causeway - again

We didn't have too long probably another hour so headed directly to view the small wall area and the reeds where we were told the Smew was, no Smew but a Kingfisher, Peregrine & Red Crested Pochard to add to the tally.

Oh and a Song Thrush, dad likes a song thrush.

50 plus species with a few of the things you don't see every day or any day for that matter on the patch...

Saturday, 30 November 2013

1 hour

I got to Rainham for 3.30pm today and seeing as I haven't been out for some time I felt a little guilty that the hour I had wasn't spent over the Valley.

It was an alright hour...

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Isle of Sheppey

Today I was invited to join the London Bird Club on a field trip to Sheppey, my first trip to Sheppey and my first LBC field trip or any field trip with a club.
Organised by Peter Lambert and his son David Darrell-Lambert.
West Thurrock
I joined David first though this morning to settle a score with West Thurrock Marshes, on the occasions I have been over in search of Jack Snipe they haven't yielded but this morning was different; first a couple of Snipe took flight over the wall and finally a Jack Snipe. A life tick.
Yellow Legged Gull x2 patrolled the shore line, Fieldfare called from over the wall.
On the mud a large group of Dunlin moved around the waters edge some way off. Dave found within this group a Stint sp but it was to far out to call it any further. Black Tailed Godwit, Curlew, Rock Pipit & Avocet all added to the cast.
The LBC met at Sittingbourne station and we first headed to Shellness. Numerous Little Egret & Curlew on the marshes. A single Marsh Harrier flew in the distance whilst a large group of waders comprising of Knot, Black Tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher joined a little later by Avocet (c3500 total group). A couple of Ringed Plover in the mix edges.
About 50 Wigeon were out on the water along with a single Grey Seal.  Turnstone and Sanderling were amongst the Groins. Rock Pipit also.
It was here whilst watching the Seal that 5 birds took flight straight in front and proceeded towards and up above my head, I new I hadn't seen these before and as I called out asking what they were Peter and Dave both called Snow Bunting.....another life tick.
On the way to Capel Fleet, a bit of gull feeding pulled in Med Gull
Capel Fleet
Buzzard x3, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel x2 & Marsh Harriers x5/6 were the raptors on view along with Green Sandpiper.
Harty Ferry Inn
More raptors and for a brief moment a Cattle Egret but before I could see turned back into a Little Egret, 26 Common Seal sprawled out on the mud.
Elmley NNR
No longer an RSPB it has been a place that I have only heard good things about and it didn't disappoint, before even getting the farm a superb Merlin on a gate post right in front of us, it took flight as we got nearer but soon settled to our left.
Certainly a place I'll be going to again; Barn Owls in boxes, Barn Owls in flight, Barn Owls in flight with prey; Short Eared Owls x2, Kestrel, Peregrine, Hare, Stonechat, pinging Beardies, Pintail, Black Tailed Godwit, Snipe, Avocet, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveller, bundles of Curlew.
All in all a great day, lovely bunch of people of all age groups and personality with shed loads of birds.
Dave, cheers for the invite today - really appreciate it.
Other birds: Blackbird, Greenfinch, Corn Bunting (I missed this one), Blue Tit, Mallard, Great Black Backed Gull, Common Gull, Linnet, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Dunnock, Red Legged Partridge, Meadow Pipit, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Coot, Moorhen, House Sparrow, Reed Bunting plus more 60 sp in total.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Gunners Park Parrot Crossbills

You would have thought that after working in Southend for 18 months a while back that i would know two things:

1. Southend has a lot of speed cameras
2. Southend traffic wardens love their jobs.
So why was it then that when i cut my way to Mess Road i decided to park elsewhere and take a walk through the new estate leaving the car at the mecery of Sounthend Council? As such it turned out to be a relatively expensive trip. £70 or £35 if i pay within 14 days, how nice of them.
Why did i park elsewhere? I was being a considerate and careful birder, not knowing where in Mess Road the Crossbills would be i decided a quiet approach would be better - shouldnt have bothered after seeing all the cars and construction equipment down the road.
Anyway the Parrot Crossbills performed exremely well in the fir towards the the far end of the road on the coastal side. Arriving on site about 10am all four birds were in and out of the tree giving their own little performance.
So along with half of Essex i got a life Tick - no.212 and courtesy of Tony Brown heres what all the fuss was about...

More great shots from Tony can be found on his own blog The Cowboy Birder - He's Hotter than a birdseye chilli with that lens..........actually better not say that, there pretty mild :) Cheers for use Tony

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Rainham RSPB

The first full circuit of Rainham in an age. I had No1 Son and we arrived at the center for about 10ish and with the weather looking Ok we couldnt have asked for more.
It has been a while; there has been a few changes to the walk as well it seems with new viewing areas being put in to enhance the experience.
As we came off the ramp we headed right towards the woodland but initially stopped and scoped the scrape. Teal, Wigeon were in good numbers along with Greylag & Canada Geese, it was whilst scanning the back of the scrape that a white rump darted in front of the view briefly and down into a gulley. A few minutes later and there it was a fresh faced looking Wheatear, my first of the Autumn.
Heath was being pretty vocal so the chances of seeing much close up was thin so distance birding was the order of the day and as such not much seen within the Woodland area; heard a fair bit though, mixed tits, cettis warbler...the usual around this area.
My Boggie bird over Rainham is the Barn Owl; three years ive been going over there and i still havnt seen one; even today i was told in the center that one had been sticking its head out the Woodland Box all morning; not when i get there.....
From the gate half way between the old stump and Barretts hide two distant Marsh Harriers, which i managed better views of one as we met half way along the Northern Boardwalk while it hunted this time within the fox fence.
I found two magicians trying to turn a Redshank into a Spot Red from distance; i must admit to getting my wand out and having a go myself but i failed, a Redshanks a Redshank. No matter how many incantations we tried, it remained as was. We all left happy knowing we hadnt miss ID'd it.
Other than that i bumped into Steve, the dagenham chase, Drake and had a really pleasnt couple of hours in the reserve. I wont leave it as long next time.....

Monday, 9 September 2013

Sunday Morning - Redstart

Not one for early mornings I was out side the Valley gates at 5.00am, still pitch black, could have had another half our in bed......
I ventured in at about 5.20am with a hope of an owl silently gliding across the marsh; my expectation dashed by a thick layer of mist that had settled over the flood and scrape so much so that in the dim light i could see barely into it. I edged my way along to the main viewing area where you could hear more than see; two Cettis Warbler battled it out with song, Mallard making them selves known along with Coot and Moorhen. Two Water Rail from different end of the scrapes "sharmed" as a Green Woodpecker "yaffled" behind me; and it was cold, hands firmly in pockets so it was just as well i couldn't see.
Dave Mo tweeted 5.20 am "Hobby Barking Bay" at least i wasn't the only one up and as i got to the iron bridge heading towards the Bottom Paddock i heard my first "COME HERE!" which broke the silence and was the start of normality over the valley; Dog walkers love them or hate them on your patch there here to stay.
I was still in hope of a Spotted Flycatcher or Wryneck over at the Paddock. The sun wasn't up yet and if i hadn't said it before it was cold and it looked like the birds agreed with me; nothing about and it remained that way for some time. Eventually at about 6.30am the sun started to provide a tiny amount of warmth and slowly but surely the lower paddock lit with the morning rays. Birds once hidden now started to flit about, Robin, Lesser Whitethroat and Dunnock mainly. Woodpigeons, Stock Doves and Collard Dove took to the skies flying in different directions.
A bird that kept me guessing for a while had the shape of a Flycatcher and although i saw it again later that morning, it was right at the back. Not much else happened really, i was standing in the shady area down by the fields moaning to myself about how cold i was and started my walk to the sun when two Robins started to chase something about, a quick glance and it was a male Redstart shortly followed by a female on other end of the bush. Both birds eventually being chased.
Not being able to relocate them i decided it was time to head somewhere else when further up another male or the same one was showing well. There's been a Redstart in the paddock now for a bit but i believe its been the female that's been seen so two possibly three birds, i let the others know and some decided to pop over and a selection of photos can be seen on the Ingrebourne Birders blog

Monday, 2 September 2013

Porch Moths

The porch has pulled in a few moths of late:

Sqaure Spot Rustic

Angle Shades

Yellow Shell

 Light Emerald

 Marbled Beauty

 Orange Swift


Sunday, 1 September 2013

Lower Paddock

Oh well yet another Spotted Flycatcher comes and goes at the Valley without yours truly being any where near the area.........
As such i was at the Lower Paddock this morning for about 7ish in the hope that latest of the visitors had decided to hang about for a bit.
The paddock was busy this morning; a lot busier than normal, in fact i havnt seen it so busy since it was covered in Redwing and Fieldfare late last year after the berries. From the gate the first bird was a Lesser Whitethroat along the edging to the back lake, shortly followed by another however this time it was in the bushes running up the side of the path.
As i edged my way along the fencing it was evident that most of the Whitethroat, some 20 odd in total and now 6 Lesser Whitethroat were fresh faced youngsters.
Again fresh faced and looking good were the Chiffchaffs who were silently working the shrubs.
At the far end looking into the farm fields the closest held c135 Lapwing; while during my stay 6 Great Spotted Woodpecker flew calling as they went from Berwick Glade over towards the scrape, dispersed with 4 Green Woodpecker also heading in the same direction.
A high flying Snipe plummeted down into the sodden area between river and back lake and whilst watching this a distant Water Rail could be heard.
As the rail finished the racket of Ring Necked Parakeet slowly got louder and louder as two headed off towards Berwick car park.
A mystery came into view briefly and this then kept me busy for a while as i tried to relocate it but it didnt happen.
On the way back to the car i stopped off at the iron bridge again; there has been a couple of Mute Swan hanging around that area with three signets, one of them was ringed with the same colour ring as 4ANA my Tit Lake bird but so far i havnt been able to read it, i kind of thought it may have been 4AMG the first of these that i found as this was in the exact same area.
It read 4ANW and then to my suprise i looked at the other bird and this was also ringed 4ANV; ive sent the records off to the Mute Swan Ringing Group and await their response however if like the other two i cant imagine these two have done too much apart from Harrow Lodge to Ingrebourne Valley



Sunday, 25 August 2013

Not To Be

So with previous foul weather and pretty good conditions for some birds to be pushed up the Thames theres only one thing for it as a newish birder; yep you guessed it, leave your phone in the house and start smashing up a concrete pathway in your front garden........
So by 11 i was now aware of the Sabines Gulls in Aveley Bay along with another in Barking Bay plus Black Tern picking their way about everywhere. Permission granted i dashed off for Aveley parking in Coldharbour Lane where a small group had gathered still looking for the gulls which had for some time dispersed. A quick chat with Shaun, Monkey & Steve Bacon i headed to the group and settled in.
A few familiar faces and a chance to finally meet James Astley (Parus).
James thought he had a Little Gull but it had gone behind another viewer and he lost it, 3x Turnstone dropped into the mud on Aveley Bay itself (London List Tick) and after a bit i picked out aboout 20 odd Black Tern; cool yet another life tick
The group quickly split up with people heading back to the RSPB, home or of to the Stone Barges by car or along the footpath. I made my decison and headed to the Stone Barges where Dominic Mitchell had just had a brief glimpse of it high before loosing it to either the far bank or up river, so with that in mind i took a spin to Ferry Lane and made my stand here; Loads of Black Headed Gulls, Cormorant plus Common Tern.
A good couple of hours on the Thames and this was what the fuss was all about; a good record shot from Shaun and more can be found on his blog here but for me, alas it was not to be.
courtesy of Shaun Harvey, not that he knows this yet..........

How Many Padlocks?

A call late Friday afternoon and Paul & Bradders are on their way to KGV Reservoir for the Red Necked Phalarope over in Chingford; i was hoping to meet with them at the entrance at 5.15pm but traffice was pretty dire and after battling my way i wasnt going to catch them in time, not wanting to hold them up i headed home.
Earlyish Saturday morning and i had another call, Shaun was on his way; i wasnt going to give up today as i now new that this was a good bird for London and a would be a nice addition to my London List.
Upon arrival i was faced with a test from the Krypton Factor, some eight padlocks holding it fast, i mean i know this is east London but surely if someone wants to get in that badly they will just hop on over the fence?
Up the hill, through the sheep shit and onto the bank to find messrs Harvey, Redfern & Halley-Frame all on the little bird a fair way out; easily picked up thanks to direction and another lifer me.


Friday, 23 August 2013

Spoons 2 Bars 0 Ticks 1

A family few days away to Wells in Norfolk gave me a couple of hours birding time, however sadly the sand banks at the Wells harbour are a lot smaller than they used to be and as such are further out, the smaller waders are just to small for me to ID but larger ones such as Curlew, Oystercatcher were in abundance.
Apparently the shrinkage of the sand banks is due to the dredging of the boat channel to Wells Harbour; sand is being placed in other areas which in turn is affecting the tide flow. The Common Terns that were nesting on these shingle/sandy banks have now relocated, not in the same numbers, to the spit just behind the life boat station and these could be viewed easily with the eye.
A few Turnstone and Redshank cruised the shoreline along the walk into town from the beach.
So with a couple of hours to spare on Wednesday afternoon I managed to get the whole family off to Titchwell, we didn't do much just a walk down to the Parinder hides and back but it was pretty good.
The biggest thing that happened was the wife actually looked through the scope and paid an interest in the Spoonbills that were showing really well; heads up and even flying about; apparently up to 12 birds there yesterday morning but only two whilst we viewed.
A self found Little Stint, confirmed by one of the RSPB guys, gave me my 3rd record and best views of this little bird; the wife looked and made some weird noise as if to say it looks brown, small and unimpressive but I was pleased.
Little Ringed Plovers, Spotted Redshanks, Knot, Ruff and Golden Plover made up the supporting cast on the fresh marsh. The salt marsh held a couple of Grey Plover and a Common Scoter.
A female Marsh Harrier hunted over to the left as you walk down the main path.
So yesterday we headed back to the gloom that is Hornchurch and its surrounds but managed to stop off at Lynford Arboretum, this was on route and gave me a possible two Life Ticks. As I approached the Larchs near the entrance it was very quiet, nothing but after a bit the birds started to come in. The best seen were Treecreeper and Nuthatch.
Shortly after a flight call that I hadn't heard before started to head my way and 11 Crossbill dropped out of the sky onto the trees, I quickly scanned looking for the Juv 2 bar but it wasn't to be seen. The rain started to bucket it down so I jumped back in the car and headed home.
Crossbill = Life Tick, well worth popping in

Monday, 5 August 2013

Hashtag & Ticktickbooooom

I had one of those mornings that most people reading this post probably havn't had for many a year......yep 10 ticks in one morning not even a day, one morning. #TickTickBooooom.
During this morning i discovered two things 1. that seawatching is going to take me an age to learn & 2. @davemo57 doesnt use hashtags....... according to Paul you cant teach old dogs new tricks etc etc.....according to Dave everybody should know where Canvey is and as such #'s are not required.......
My first trip to Dungeness affectionately know as Dunge was great, we left about 5am and was on the shingle for sea watching about an hour and half later. I was in the hands of Dave Mo & Paul Hawkins and for my first proper sea watch i didn't really know what to expect, yes I've stood on Titchwell beech for 15 minutes having a look at what was there but only if i new something was about i.e. Long Tailed Duck earlier this year.
First bird of the day pretty much were Sandwich Tern, two birds going West, Life tick no.1
There were a fair few Gannet's of mixed ages, which although not a tick was great to see, the only other Gannet i had seen was a bird at Walthamstow reservoir, so it was good to watch them here. Common Scoter also headed west (mostly) with groups of mixed sizes. Dave pulled a Fulmar which became life tick no 2.
I found myself a Guilimot and Arctic Tern adding another two lifers. Other birds that were called out Manx Shearwater, Bonxie, Arctic Skua and the highlight being two Balearic Shearwater also heading West at 8.06am. All of these being lifers taking the sea watch tally to 8.
The remaining tick of the sea watching were Kitiwake, no.9, with a couple of birds flying out by the line where the water changes colour along with a Juvenile within feet of the shore line.

Both after a shot of the Juvenile Kittiwake

Lots of other good birds including Whimbrel, Little Gull & Mediterranean Gull
After a visit to the patch we headed off to the Arc Pits, here Garganey, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Oystercatcher and my final lifer of the day Black Neck Grebe = No 10.
Also got the oppertunity to put some names to faces: Jim and his dad, whilst his brother Brian was at the other end of the hide with Paul.
Dave & Paul a big thank you for a great morning.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Bearded Tit Saves The Morning

The plan for today was to be at Aveley Bay for 5.30am to check for waders. I was there for about that however had forgotten to check the tides, as such no mud due to high tide meant no waders.
Rather disappointed i headed to the Stone Barges; they were empty bar a lot of Pigeon - what a waste of an early morning.
So, off to the Valley.

Parking at Albyns farm i took a walk up and around Ingrebourne Hill and again nothing, this was turning out to be a disaster. A "charm" of Goldfinch, probably 35 birds on the hill Lowfield Marsh side was as good as it got......
I decided to check out how the Mute Swan 4ANA was doing. He was doing well, so was the Mrs and the two kids were growing up fast.
Enough was enough, now 7am, i was going home. I then bumped into another local birder, Gary. We had a chat, he had seen one of the recent Bearded Tits but had seen it from the housing side looking onto the fishery. This is a side I rarely go so with nothing better to do I took a spin round to Lake Avenue.

used under the creative commons license - original can be viewed here

It was the longest time I have ever spent looking into to those reeds and surrounding vegetation. Two hours of walking the lake both sides from end to end.

I was just about to head off home for the second time today when I had one last check down past the New Builds; under the rather lethal bramble and just before the fallen tree there is a small view point over the reeds; it was here that after no time a rather perky looking female popped into view, quite frankly it could have possibly heard my rather over excited YES! as it didn't hang around for too long and headed back down and out of sight.

A great bird to see within the Valley and i'm sure will be seen again next year, after all why wouldn't they......


Tuesday, 23 July 2013


So after all the Patch MEGA activity I headed back over the Valley later that evening for one reason, adding that Wigeon to the year list.

I found it on the lake between lower scrape and paddock

2013 = 94

used under the creative commons licence - original by dracobotanicus

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

So when is 200 not 200

when you look at my list......

Last night I was out with Paul looking for the Pectoral Sandpiper over at Rainham Marshes. I'm glad to say after a search for a while we found it (well Paul did) in amongst a couple of Little Ringed Plover, Redshank and Curlew.
After a celebratory woot woot along with modern day high fives I was on 200; it was short lived
A Hobby later also came in lowish as well but disappeared pretty quickly.
In order for today, after last nights chat, was a list clean up; ok its my list but I don't want to be reaching 500 400 300 birds to be told I have 10 dodgy ducks on there; you know what birders are like. :)
used under the creative commons license - original by jac6.flicker
So my clean list total stands at 195 with one bird awaiting acceptance: Slaty-Backed Gull.

Monday, 15 July 2013


I went away for a week and upon arrival I saw news of the Osprey at Abberton Reservoir, with this being a life tick as well I was a little gutted, an Osprey is a bird I wanted to see and pretty much on my doorstep
Although my twitches are getting further afield I'm still either 1. to lazy or 2. not of the mental disposition to think going to Wales (or equivalent distance) for the day is a good idea. However I am being brain washed / shown the light trained, slowly by Messers Harvey, Hawky  & Monkey to put thoughts of distance from my mind and concentrate on the bird in question. Apparently slowly but surely my radius of travel will increase and so it seems.
However I was in Devon and with the family so to ask them to allow me to travel all the way home and back wasn't worth raising; plus i'm still at no.2 above. I would have to wait until the next one...
Luckily for me that Osprey seemed to like Abberton as it was still there last night. I arrived at about 7.30pm to find it sitting in full view (distant and scoped). I hung around for a while hoping it would take flight and go fishing but it seemed settled, a little bit of preening going on but other than that just looking about at what was going on around it.
I then had a Bonus for the list that was shortly after ripped from under my feet as I was advised I couldn't add it to my list :) Ruddy Shelduck x2 Oh Well.
Text out "can I add these two Ruddy Shelduck to my list"
Instantly back "no"
A Green Sandpiper walked the edges and two noisy Common Tern fed behind me.
Used under the creative commons licence - original by Sergey Yeliseev

Anyway just a digiscoped proof of life shot from me
I did get the Bonus in the end though, on the way home just outside Easthorpe two followed by a third Turtle Dove on the wires
Two more added to that list and a really pleasant summers evening over at Layer Breton

Friday, 5 July 2013

Swift Colony

The partners had a compliance meeting today so i found myself trudging to Puckeridge for it this morning; As i headed up the high street Swifts everywhere, low level flying along pavements doging vans and cars. I then came accros the colony hide out.
It was very busy, i parked up and watched for a good 5 minutes, this short video does not do it justice, the volume of birds in and out was vast.
UPDATE: 17.09.2014 Sadly, the owners have had home improvements done, this colony is no longer there

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Finally....Spot Fly on the list

After a few local attempts over the Valley courtesy of Messrs Harvey & McGough, the Essex Birdwatching Site came up with goods locally to work;
Spotted Flycatcher x1 - St Nicholas's Church, Church Road, Kelvedon Hatch.
Now weirdly, the weekend before i was actually at this church for a christenning however we only entered the front of the church and never managed a wander around the graves.
So being 10 minutes away from the office it would have been rude not to have a go. Looking through the gates up the side of the church revealed only Robin, so knowing about Fane Hall next to the church i took a wander towards it.
This paid off with a male Bullfinch along with not one but two Spot Fly, after watching for a while as they went about they business i began to notice a patten; from local area, to wires then towards the rectory. Finally managing a view to the rectory gave views of a very full nest, X2 young Spot Fly on the ledge behind the drain pipe and under the eaves; getting loads of food from the parents who were busy catching bugs n grubs.
So from never seeing this bird to 4 in one go and with the adults all very close and easy to view.
Life list 197 and it could so easily be 200 if i could get a pass to go somewhere different for the day....
used under the creative commons license: original by & can be viewed phenolg

Saturday, 29 June 2013


Another ring visual today on a wonder to Tit Lake and back from the Hornchurch car park, with plenty of Blackcap, Long Tailed Tit & Whitethroat. A male Cuckoo went low over head after a quick detour down to the iron bridge. No Swifts though but still a fair few House Martin over the scrape.
Finally arriving a Tit lake and 4ANA was close in to the bank. I have been looking for him since first finding a colour ring Mute Swan back in March April time, 4AMG. Two sightings of this bird but nothing more. However 4ANA has held up on the lake since, although whenever viewing ive only been able to read the numbers 4 times. He has gone from single to paired to parents, with two signets on show with both mum and dad today.
The Mrs
The Family

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Scrape Tonight

An hour over the valley mainly viewing around the scrape took my year list for the Valley to 93 - my new record.

A Green Sandpiper directly in front of the the main viewing area on the rock mid water. It was there for a while before heading off towards the far right reeds and out of sight.

used under the creative commons license - original can be viewed here

Also seen was a Hobby heading along the river away from the scrape and iron bridge. Around the scrape also from the main viewing area, Lapwing x9, House Martin, Swift, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Cettis Warbler

Friday, 21 June 2013

Valley Year List 92

After picking up Sand Martin over Berwick last week a quick trip after a client meeting last night found a Hobby low over the scrape that headed off over the iron bridge and along towards the old barn owl stump.

This puts me on 92 which matches last year and my best over the Valley to date and with 6 months to go.....

Other birds seen: Lapwing x11, Kestrel, Mute Swan, Coot, Little Grebe, Gadwall x2, Mallard, Cuckoo x3, Swift, House Martin, Reed Warbler x2, Grey Heron, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collard Dove, Magpie, Cettis Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackbird, Starling, Robin, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Valley's New Dog Walking Method.....

Step 1:

Most would already have this requirement, however if new to this it is a requirement that cannot be over come. Obtain the....

for whatever the reason this seems to be the favoured type - go figure

Step 2:

Once the above has been aquired then obtain.....

other makes and retailers are available and im not providing an endorsement for this retailer

Step 3:

Choose your favoured morning and with both the above attend Ingrebourne Valley parking in the Hornchurch Country car park.

Step 4:

Walk the 50 meters to the new mobile coffee shop......

Step 5:

Order a beverage of your choosing and take a seat......

Step 6:

Now relax, throw ball continuously to field allowing dog to retrieve, sup coffee and chat with like minded individuals

Step 7:

Rince and Repeat until coffee has been depleated

Step 8:

Walk the 50 meters back to the car and consider the dog walked

Monday, 10 June 2013


Last night at about 7.30pm I headed to the back end of the garden to check on if the Blue Tits had fledged; sure enough they had and being at work I missed it so don't know how may made it out of the box.
There was no sign of them in the surrounding trees or next doors garden either but whilst checking I heard a Crow making a racket above and looking up I caught sight of a raptor being mobbed, however they both immediately went out of sight behind a fir, running to the far corner, there to be added to the garden list, was a Hobby; prey in foot slowly moving on through, dodging the odd lazy attack from the crow and in between snacking.
Used Under the Creative Commons License - original can be viewed at

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Swift trip to the Patch

Not much happened over the patch for me of late, Grasshopper Warbler being a first for me over there taking my life patch list to staggering heights; 107.
2013 total now 90 which is 2 off my best year, with a few noticable gaps, Redwing, Wigeon, Little Owl.
This evenning i went for a little wander to the scrape, same old same old if it wasnt for the Swifts. Probably about 30-40 of them; insects were every where and they were low. The House Martins stayed high but the Swifts decided to treat me to an awsome flight display.
I've had what i thought were close Swifts along the wall at Rainham but this was a different kind of close. As i turned up at the scrape they rose, i stood by the Valley sign and watched the water. Shortly after i was buzzed; straight passed my left ear not just a whoosh but as it turned it beat its wings, so close you could hear it.
I moved towards the center of the fencing and faced away from the water. They were repeating the path; from over the trees they would come reducing height quickly to 6ft over the tables and chairs past my head left / right and over onto the water. They were then banking off to the iron bridge gaining height and back for more.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Dusky Thrush - Margate

Thanks to Shaun for driving; i managed to get down to Margate this afternoon for the Dusky Thrush. I am really pleased i went and we had good views for hour / hour and a half as it slowly made its way through the Sycamore it was held up in.
Around 150odd people still there when we arrived even more if you included the dead ones. Any way great thanks not only to Shaun for the drive but also Mary Popplebottom, she knows why...
Digiscoped a few shots and these were the better ones:

Shaun...a very happy individual.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Holme, Thornham, Titchwell

I was in Norfolk, leaving Tuesday morning to arrive about lunchtime at Holme NWT. I have been only once before but I like the place as it feels very empty compared to Titchwell.
I started with a walk along the beech towards (I think) Gore point a tidal inlet to the marsh, from the Pines. There was very little on the sea and I had no intention today on sea watching, that would come tomorrow morning.

A few Sanderling along the foreshore no longer the light grey colour I normally see them when at Southend. A single Curlew. As I got to the point I could see ahead a group of birds resting up, approaching closer there were two Dunlin, again in more summer plumage with black bellies, Grey Plover in the same, more Sanderling and a group of c30 Bar Tailed Godwits and two Blackwits thrown in for good measure. Further down the beech behind the group a few Turnstone and as I turned to the inlet and headed down it 9 Ringed Plover spread out with distance between them.
The inlet gave up two Avocet and the start of numerous Redshank, Back Headed Gulls & Oystercatchers.
Up the bank and over the wall now to the wishing well car park and back down the road, a single Mistle Thrush on the near side of the paddock and Wheatear x5 towards the back. Lapwings were nesting along with Greylag in the small pools within the paddocks. Linnets were everywhere.
I headed to the hides but apart from the noisy nesting Black Headed Gulls and usual duck I picked up a male Marsh Harrier over the back and one Reed Warbler.
The Pines were a chatter with Goldfinch before I headed onto the reserve circular walk. Skylark, Meadow Pipit and yet more Linnet. Another two Wheatear in the middle. I then flushed two, what I initial thought were Red Legged Partridge, it wasn't until they landed and the checking on call after that I saw they were Grey Partridge.
Next I took the top edge walk, allowing views to beech, dunes and marsh and this time as I approached the wishing well car park a Cuckoo (f)  flew along the paddock, stopped on a post before heading off in the distance to the village, I turned to head back when my second SEO of the year was quartering in the dunes no more than 30ft away. It dropped but was unsuccessful and the silently headed out of sight over towards the paddock.
I headed back onto the far end of the circular walk when a small brown raptor passed me in the hollow to my right, low and fast, got nothing on it other than its direction. I headed that way sticking to the path where in front of me on a low marker post was a Merlin (f). Awesome a life tick with great views before it took flight and shot of towards the paddock.
61 birds in total which had beaten my site day record by 3.

used under the creative commons license - original can be found

That evening after checking in my hotel, The Lifeboat, nice place from what I saw of it I took a stroll down toward the boat moorings.

The tide was out and the mud on the inlet I was walking along was busy, mainly with Avocet but a single Ruff that didn't hang around for long but also a Whimbrel which did and gave me my best views of the bird to date. Happily feeding down the bank about 20ft. A couple of Grey Plover as well.

After meeting up with my parents and friends for dinner we all took a dusk stroll back down in the search of the local Barn Owl - no sign.


The following morning I was on the beech at Titchwell for about 6.30 along with one other guy who was also in search of the summer plumaged Long Tailed Duck that had been seen. As luck would have it a local plodded his way up the beech informing us it was with a small group of Common Scoter. It was and after about a five minute walk up the beach towards Thornham we found them reasonably close in, scoped views required.
The gent I was with left and after finding a couple of Common Tern plus the usual crowd on the waters edge I headed back bumping into centre manager. He asked if i'd seen the duck and then the Bearded Tits? I hadn't seen any on the way down. He pointed out where they should be and as we got there Bearded Tit x7 pinged away and the started chasing each other around right in front of us. Nice timing!
I met with my parents again who were spending the rest of the day with me and we set off, Marsh Harriers  and a high soaring Buzzard were the only raptors, no owls.
Little Ringed Plovers x4 & late in the day one Ringed Plover.

Red Crested Pochard (pair) and four smart Spotted Redshank, almost full black and a first for me in this plumage.

c30 Barwits and 2 Blackwits with a male Ruff not quite with a ruff but some cracking feathers to its back/tail.
and lastly I took my dad back to the beech as the others wanted a rest, four guys lined up seawatching.....mumbles of 1 oclock, third out blah blah and this would of been really helpful if I could identify a speck of black that looked like an aphid over in Shetland (the first bit of land in a straight line from here, I checked). Anyway after asking politely if the Long Tailed Duck was within view there were two....Long Tailed Duck, life tick for dad.
After beating my day site record yesterday I did so again today with 68 species.