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Friday, 27 February 2015

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Patch Additions

February 26th

With a free morning I took the opportunity to catch up on the Patch, Rainham no less and decided to work the Stone Barges area in the hope of a new bird.

Starting off at the Barges at first light, the tide was just starting to drop but waders were evident and roosting, a good scan produced no less that 172 Redshank, a very good count. Going through them did not produce the hoped for Turnstone but 2 Oystercatchers were new for the year and upped the patch list to 86.

As they started to leave a single Common Sandpiper went with them briefly before heading for some rocks, another new bird no less and pushed the bar up to 87.

On a roll I headed down towards the Green Factory, eventually after passing it once and then retracing my steps I got the bird I was looking for – Water Pipit.
Pretty brief views but quite unmistakable, a very pale bird, large pale long supercillium and good white outer tail feathers.

I suspect it is the same bird that Paul saw recently as it wasn’t far off the same area.

Now up to 88 I retraced my steps back to the Barges looking for Grey Wagtail, no luck but did have 2 Rock Pipits and the Oystercatchers were now up to 3.

I also found myself looking through the Gulls, how it happened I don’t know, Gulls have never floated my boat as the saying goes, I put it down to a momentary lapse in concentration and judgement imagining they were Birds of Prey.

Calling it a day, the weather was naff so no photographs, I moved on stopping on the way back at the Ingrebourne Valley, looking for the 3 White fronted Geese.

These failed to materialise but instead a quick scan produced a pair of Red Crested Pochards, year tick no 70, very likely I suspect ,similar to the White Fronts, annually returning birds.
Standing there watching them and a pair of Goosanders (71) flew over and landed, managed to get a few record shots of both pairs before heading for home, a very good morning.

2 new birds for the year and if I recall correctly neither seen last year, the memory is not what it was so could be wrong on the RCP’s.

Record shots of both pairs

With Spring approaching and March only days away, thoughts are now turning to the 1st spring migrants, this time next month, Willow Warbler, Wheatear, Little Ringed Plover and Sand Martin could all be in from Africa.

Hopefully they will bring with them the warmer weather, had enough of the cold and grey skies.
Since I packed up Steelfixing I seem to feel the cold more, getting soft.

Friday, 20 February 2015

A Wild Goose Day

With a survey starting just before 11.00am on the Hoo Peninsula, my plan of action for the morning was to try and intercept the 3 White fronted Geese that have recently taken up there winter residence in the Valley.

Odds on it is the same returning 3 birds which have wintered in the Valley for the last 4 years, and no doubt, one and the same that briefly graced Rainham RSPB a week or so ago.
I had already seen them distantly a few days back, but was hoping to be able to get a photo or two. Part of the plan worked when I located them with Greylags, but as for the photos they were having none of it, I settled for a few distant ones and just enjoyed watching them.

The 3 White Fronted Geese in with Greylags and Canada's

Next stop was Hoo; a high tide survey no less, on arrival virtually the first birds seen was a large flock of Dark Bellied Brent Geese. However the floodings were absolutely full of roosting waders and wildfowl.

The peregrine pair were significant in there absence, no doubt like many others now had gone to their nest site and were now territorial.

Marsh Harriers however were pretty abundant as usual, and despite the chill, some signs were there of Spring with solitary male Lapwings already claiming flooded areas of fields.

The Dark Bellied Brent Geese however were what caught my attention on the survey, more noticeably the large numbers; I could see around 200 birds with probably 400 or so out on the Thames.
I don’t usually get them up my end so the habitat enhancements are obviously to their liking, all were scanned in the hope of a Pale Bellied or even a Black Brant, none seen but as with the earlier White Fronts good to watch.

Golden Plover

Dark Bellied Brent's

The sight, sound and spectacle of a wild Goose flock does stir you, I’m not quite into poetry yet but when they passed low over my head it does put an enormous smile on your face.

Norfolk is calling for the Pinkies…..

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Rainham RSPB

After Fridays survey at Coryton, which was pretty quiet, myself and Paul popped into Rainham en route home.

Overcast and raining but nonetheless whilst sitting in the car park, we both added to our own year-list and also our team total with Blackcap for the year.
The team total now stands on 95 so ticking along nicely.

An added bonus whilst sitting in the car was 2 Kronkers going over, given the time off to roost I suspect.

Sunday, 8 February 2015


It’s about this time of year as I am patrolling Peregrine sites, old or new that I occasionally come across a Hybrid, one such site back in early 2013 produced not one but two birds, both it seemed showed a bit of Peregrine/Merlin/Gyr/Saker influence.

My concern has always been that they would one day get into the gene pool of peregrines, it is a sad event that sometimes they will pair with a wild peregrine and they then have to be removed, it is relatively rare but it has happened.

There is no doubt that these 2 had formed a bond, presumably male and female going on size, the smaller bird even displaying for all he was worth.

It’s hard to put your finger on the exact species that had been used but I would say the smaller ‘ male’ was Peregrine/Merlin, what was unusual was the grey base colour, not sure where that came from.

The bigger ‘female’ was obviously influenced by Saker/Gyr, a spectacular bird to watch even if it did have mixed genes, I saw it chasing a flock of flyby Canada Geese, likely just for fun and instinct but quite a sight nonetheless.

The female - stunning 

The smaller of the 2, the 'male' I have been seeing since 2011, always on his own, in the same area, until 2013 which is when he ‘paired’ up with the other hybrid around 10 miles from his original area.

The smaller male in 2011


Since finding them together in early 2013 I have not seen or heard of them, although I have been hearing reports of a large pale Falcon being seen around London.

Little chap putting on a show for her

The 2 together

I am curious to know what became of the ‘pair’ so if anyone out there is aware of them or any Hybrid, I would appreciate a heads up.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Beckton Sewage Works

Jan 31st

Only my 2nd visit of the year, much of it is now covered so not so smelly anymore, high summer was challenging to the nostrils to say the least.

I decided on a thorough tour of the site to try and up the patch list, currently standing at a lowly 34.As yet I have not caught up with the Black Redstart, they are usually pretty regular in the winter, also many more commoner species.

Starting at the Outfall, undergoing major upheaval at the moment as part of the construction program going on site, I was not expecting too much, I added a few regulars before heading towards the Gull colony.
Pairing up already and just starting to show the first signs of breeding, a few flyovers gave me a hard time before heading back to the Jetty.


Moving inland and picking up a few more ticks I came across a ringed Lesser Black Backed Gull, very kindly traced for me by Paul, its history is below.

October 15th 2011 – Rainham Tip

November 19th 2011 – Thames, Rainham.

As you can see it’s pretty localised and is no doubt one of the regular breeders on the Jetty.

Next up was a very confiding Green Sandpiper, most times these are a bugger to get near but being in the car helped a lot.
Managed to get a few shots of it and then had a look around the rest of the site, as usual Pied and Grey Wagtails were abundant but oddly hardly any Meadow Pipits seen.

A good visit, the weather as expected was its usual grey overcast self, thoughts now turn to spring, the first migrants will soon be arriving in March, hopefully as per last year a Wheatear on the Tanks.

I ended the morning on 48 species so up and running with 14 species added.

I also heard some good news regarding the Barn Owls, despite sitting in the car for a couple of hours over 2 nights, and undertaking a few dawn watches I had not seen them leaving or returning to roost.

Fresh pellets have been found which is fantastic news; I thought that the large scale change to localised habitat would send them to pastures new, glad to be proved wrong.