Monday, 23 November 2015

Ferruginous Duck - Dagenham Chase

With a low sun and the Ferruginous Duck always on the move i seemed to be staring into the sun everywhere it went.

The Scaup was still there along with a look a like Tuftie.

There has been a lot of discussion about this bird; most seem to be in agreement that its a Fudge with a lower peak due to moult.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Little Auk - Thames, Grays

So after heading back from Aveley Bay freezing Saturday afternoon ( 2x Short Eared Owl, Marsh Harrier, Snipe) i made decision to head back Sunday morning for a wander along the Rainham part of the Thames. Later that evening a text comes in from DDL advising he was going to Grays to see if he could score a London Tick by way of a Little Auk.

Along with most i hadn't failed to notice the volume of them along the east coast from Norfolk to Kent so decided that as it would be a Life tick i would tag along.

Arriving at The Wharf Pub just inside the London area still at 7am, it was -2 degrees. We scanned the area time and time again; clouds of Woodpigeon, flocks of Filedfare and streams of Starlings were in the skies. The usual gulls plus a single Yellow Legged Gull.

Shortly Dave says "what's that in line with the big pylon" and shortly after we were both on a Little Auk.

We stayed for another hour or so in hope of more, i was hoping for a Razorbill and although later found one had got as far as Mucking it didn't reach us.

Auk record photos courtesy of David Darrell-Lambert

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Crag Martin - Chesterfield

I've been wanting another longer distance twitch for a while now and it couldn't have been better with a mega Craig Crag Martin in Chesterfield. So all week its been flitting around the Crooked Spire in the town center and disappearing time after time. Roosting where; nobody new. That was until yesterday when Chesterfield played Oldham at home and a birders brother picked it up in the stands whilst watching the game.

So myself and Martin headed up making our decision that if it hadn't been seen at the spire by the time we got there we would head for the stadium. The pager highlights it at 7.53am flying around inside the ground and we were approx half hour out.

As we arrive Martin picks out a small group of birders pointing, after an initial flap as to where to park we pretty much dumped it and legged it across the street. BOOM, from car to bird in 3 seconds. Blood pressure back to normal we spent the next hour here as the bird effortlessly flew in, around and over the stands. A rainbow highlighting its gold at its end.

It relocated whilst we got involved with beckie breckie to the spire.

Martin getting hold of beckie

It would have be rude not to see the spire after coming all this way so we headed into town, the numbers here grew and grew. I estimate about 100-150 in quite  small area. However the views were easy, we watched as it flew its way around the spire time after time. It was a joy to watch and a twitch that was seriously worth the effort.

The Spire is impressive in itself, if it was in Havering it would have scaffolding covering most of it waiting for building inspectors.

A seriously good morning and a superb little market town.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Back to Wells

I have spent the last 5 days up in Wells with all the family as it was half term; this allowed me to get out on the odd morning in the local areas and it didn't turn out that bad for an hour or so's birding here and there. Highlights being:


Still lots of Goldcrests everywhere you look. My first Fieldfares of the autumn with a lot of birds arriving over night (Wednesday/Thursday) and taking their usual spots in and around the scrub south of The Dell, south of the main track. Knot out on the mud in the harbour entrance and a huge swirling mass of Golden Plover opposite the harbour masters office for all to see in town.


An early start arriving just as it got light, i headed down the main track towards Burnham managing to find a Firecrest amongst the throng of Goldcrests. I was secretly hoping to find a Yellow Brow or Pallas's Warbler that had held on may be from a couple of weeks ago.....wasn't to be. However some great views of Barn Owl in the field just behind the lake before Washington Hide. Onto the Jordon Tower hide where the Great White Egret gave itself up pretty quickly.


Plenty of Stone Chat, Marsh Harrier x3, Ruff, Dunlin, Black Tailed Godwit all from the central hides. Down on the beech i managed to catch up with the Black Brant that was holding up with the other Brent Geese.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Walking Dead comes to Wells

During the week more and more information about lots of ticks for me in Wells and Holkham. Finally mid morning on Saturday i (and the Mrs) made the decision to go. We headed up late Saturday enjoying the evening in Wells Harbour.

The following morning i headed into the woods. Even at 7.30am the car park was filling with birders.

Now i can honestly say i like Wells Woods but today i really didn't. Yes i got great views of the Red-flanked Blue Tail but come on it was like an episode of The Walking Dead, you know when they do a panoramic shot of the fields and woods and its awash with Zombies aimlessly walking about.

Zombies popping up from anywhere, behind bushes, brambles and trees but this time holding Swarovski.

courtesy of whoever makes The Walking Dead

I didn't last long before i started to get fed up; with little news coming from Holkham i decided to head there for the Isabeline Shrike. Initially not showing but eventually i refound it.

Then onto the 2nd Blue Tail of the day. Two Life ticks, not as many as i had hoped but worth trip.

courtesy of Lee Evans

Saturday, 10 October 2015


Spent an our walking our only paddock, no more small paddock no more top paddock just The Paddock after the decision was made to scrape and dig for aggregate in the Top Paddock closing into until they over fill it in with landfill and provide us with yet another hill, more of a mound in this case.

Anyway, The Paddock didn't hold much; a lot of Goldfinch, one Redwing and one Goldcrest.

Later a Snipe, just a little to far for my camera but great views none the less.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Wilsons Phalarope - Vange Marsh

Yesterday afternoon after seeing a tweet from Bradders, it had been confirmed that the Phal at Vange was indeed a Wilsons. Luckily i had time to spare so after gathering my gear i was en route within a few minutes.

The rain steadily got worse and it was awful by the time i arrived. After finding a couple of birders, they immediately put me on the bird - lovely stuff.

Courtesy of Lee Evans
Courtesy of Lee Evans

Courtesy of Lee Evans

Friday, 18 September 2015


I spent about an hour at the Valley last weekend on both Saturday and Sunday late afternoon. Saturday gave up a Wood Sandpiper which is a good patch tick; although there has been a few this year already, i didn't have the camera so no photos but i did hear it calling as well as it flew periodically.

Up to about 8 Green Sandpiper and 6 Snipe - all distant

Also a wander around Aveley Bay and Ferry Lane - Common Sand, Ferry Lane.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Friday, 5 June 2015

Tree Pipit, Dartford Warbler & Nightjar - Tick Tick Tick

I left with Paul & Martin and headed to Thursley in Surrey. I was looking forward to this. A chance to rid the outstanding list of Dartford Warbler finally and also get to see my first Nightjar.

Of course i didn't go and see the local daytime bird at the Middlesex filter beds that showed for all very well all day, i wanted to do it the hard way; midges, more midges, bug spray, an hour plus in the car each way and dark nigh-time skies.

We arrived and took a wander looking for initially Dartfords finally though ending up with some great views of my first Tree Pipit, a good few other birds all singing in the area. I think in the end i saw 4 but others were singing in the distance.

It was to be about the Nightjar so we headed back to find our spot and wait it out, it was going to be promising with Paul and Martin hearing the first churning bird whilst we were on the Pipits.

We made our stand and waited.....

Luckily Paul hears a Dartford Warbler some 20ft from our location and sure enough my second tick of the evening showed itself for all to see (juvenille).

We waited some more....

and slowly more and more churners could be heard.....still waiting until finally we moved a little to the closer of the churning birds when it came up from within the common straight over our heads into the night sky. Tick 3

Was a great little mid week jaunt - thanks guys....Three Ticks; Boom!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Red-backed Shrike

Well as the name of the blog suggests - i don't get out much; however yesterday afternoon (bank holiday Monday) after a call from Martin i decided this is a bird i really wanted to see. In addition it would also be lifer for Dad and we were at my parents finishing off a BBQ.

I've seen one of these before, it was the ridiculously close bird at West Canvey Marsh in September 2013 and was a juvenile so a stunning male was a must.

Martin had left before us and had located the bird within 5 minutes of his arrival, shortly after we arrived and sure enough after a few minutes was on it.

Great bird with some decent views, very mobile and fully aware of us at all times as it made its way around the scrub.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Choseley, Holme , Thornham Titchwell

Well it was that time of year again where my parents and some friends go on a homage to Titchwell for some "birding". On a few occasions now i have joined them for one of their days at Titchwell.

So my itinerary normally is to head up to Norfolk and arrive at Holme for about 11 and join them in the evening. Then spend the following, full day, with them at Titchwell.


This year was slightly different as my little jaunt was luckily at the same time as 8 Dotterel had taken up residency at the fields around the drying barns at Choseley. I arrived and along with a couple of others were on them immediately, 5 in view, not great views though, but its a tick. I would come back again for another try. Life Tick!


So without delay i headed to Holme. I was there by 11.30ish and before getting out of the car had seen about 25 species on the NWT drive to the reserve centre.

I was told of singles in the form of Turtle Dove, Ruff & Cuckoo. The Ruff was easy; the pools from the road gave decent views and the Cuckoo gave itself up with its iconic call. The Dove however proved too elusive for me and wasn't seen for the rest of the day by me or any of the others looking for it (i did come up on the pager the following day).

I spent most of the day here leaving about 5ish after hearing news of Ring Ousels on the cricket pitch at Thornham. Apparently they have been there every day for the last two weeks, back right corner and of course.........they weren't there.

61 species for the afternoon at Holme including Avocet, 3 reeling Grasshopper Warblers, with one showing well up by the small roadside car park, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat & 4 Ringed Plover.


After checking into the Lifeboat Inn, i took a stroll down the lane, much of the same but i did find a fine looking Goldcrest noisily feeding in the firs and pines that edge the field half way down.


This was going to be a full day, i aimed to be there in the car park for 6am; arriving at 7am i was the only one around.

My record for a day list at Titchwell stood at 68 and i didnt really expect to be getting near to that - i did, a new target set for next time with 72.

A Water Rail showed well in the usual ditch and further up was the turn of the warbler; all Sedge however Reed would be found later. A single male Red Crested Pochard on one of the inlets within the reeds (7 males in total later on).

All the usual suspects on the fresh marsh along with a couple of Little & Common Tern resting up.

Three Little Ringed Plovers were close along with a single Dunlin (more of them further in the marsh);

Onto the brackish marsh and a Common Sandpiper worked the edge closest to the path, Curlew to the back.

The salt marsh was dead initially however later in the day dad pulled in a Spotted Redshank, the first of three for me that day. Later after hearing of a Greenshank i headed back for another look to find this tucked at the rear amongst Whimbrel & Grey Plover that had been there for most of the day.

Swallows, House Martins along with my first Swifts & Sand Martins for 2015 patrolled the skies in the afternoon.

The Woodland was full of everything you would expect although the pair Bullfinch and Grasshopper Warbler they found a day earlier were not to be found. Willow Warbler & Chiffchaff seemingly everywhere.

I missed the Spoonbill both in the morning and the one reported 10 minutes after i left.

Back to Choseley

So on the way back home i stopped for clearer views of the Dotterel and got them, also 5 Wheatear and 1 Yellowhammer.

All in all a god couple of days.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Easter Break

A quick morning stroll here and lazy afternoon walk there, a total of 71 species over 3 days. Probably birding for about an hour and half a day.

Highlights were watching Barn Owls close over the fields. Marsh Harriers over the same. The first Swallow of 2015. Med Gulls seemingly everywhere now around the roost at the Lifeboat station and in the flooded fields behind Pinewoods.

Plus quite a bit of plastic as well....

Feeding Hoodies

Feeding Smew and Bar Heads

Non plastic....