Click on photos to enlarge, please do not copy photos without permission

Tuesday 31 August 2010

Rainham Marshes August 29th

Decided to have an early walk round after visiting Battersea, parked at the top car park and checked Aveley Bay first.Could see through bins that there were a few waders present.Immediately found a Knot, had the look of a juv bird, this was hooked up with 5 ringed Plover.Also present were 2 Oystercatchers, 5 Black Tailed Godwit, 2 Curlew, and a flyby Greenshank.The river produced 9 Common Terns moving up, also got onto a horde of Gulls hanging in the wind low over the river, obviously intent on some thing below from the racket they were making.Had the briefest glimpse of something dark and then it was gone in the blustery conditions, could have been anything, very likely a Seal.Couple of shots of the distant Knot below.

Very distant Knot

Ringed Plover with Knot in background

Carried on round the Reserve, wasn't expecting much small stuff due to the strong winds but did get 4 Yellow Wagtail with the Cattle, another Greenshank, Marsh Harrier over Wennington Marsh and a Garganey which flew by over the Pools.Looked like, and very likely the same bird that Dominic had on Friday.
Gave the Cordite a good bashing for Spotted Flycatcher, must have seen me coming and hid as usual.
The only other small migrant seen was a very photogenic Wheatear on the way out.



Sunday 29 August 2010

Barking Outfall August 28th

With the high tide and fridays movement I had expectations that I might get lucky with a 'good' Tern or Gull, most of the usual cast were present with 14 Common Terns noted going past the Outfall.
1st tick for the site was a Hobby going south east across the river, good tick as they can be very hard to nail on passage.Whilst watching the skies I also located 2 female/juv type Sparrowhawks going west early a.m, quite high, these had the look of migrant or juvenile birds dispersing, time was around 7.00am.Local birds do not start thermalling to around 10.00am in warm weather, also noted later,there was other Sparrowhawk movement this day in London.

10 Egyptian Geese going up river

Carried on watching the river and got on to a small flock of Geese coming towards me, 1st thought was they must be Canada's, very surprised to see that they were Egyptians. The most I have seen around our necks of the woods is 1 or 2 at Rainham, and that is rare, never had them at the Ingrebourne Valley.

3 of the flock

A very welcome addition to the site and also added Yellow Wagtail with 6 seen going over.
Others seen were
Teal - 22
Common Sandpiper - only 1 seen
2 Oystercatchers
3 Great Crested Grebes across the river
Chiffchaff - 6 heard
Sparrowhawk - 1 female, a very confiding bird that tried to take a Collared Dove, missed narrowly and then posed.Got a few photo's off, but not good as light was wrong.

Female Sparrowhawk

Would have been a good photo if I was the other side of her.

Unusual to get this close

Barking Bay August 28th

Visited in the hope that there may have been some of the sea birds left over from Fridays movement up the Thames. Common Tern numbers were up in the 40's, no Blacks present but did locate a Sandwich Tern going up river.

Barking Bay looking west

Not many waders around, did not cover it all so likely missed some birds.Only 3 Ringed Plover and 2 Oystercatchers showing on the mud along with 42 Shelduck.Yellow Wagtail over with Sparrowhawk and Kestrel having a domestic squabble over the grassland, pity I could not have got closer, light was good.

Kestrel and Sparrowhawk talon locking


Prevoius to this as I was driving in from Hornchurch, I located a Peregrine on prey up on a pylon.From what I could see, it looked like a feral pigeon.The peregrine was quite large, and had a 'sharper '  forehead from the bill so very likely a female.

Falcon with prey

Who's looking at who?

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Ingrebourne Valley August 25th

No work, so decided to have a look at the patch in the morning knowing that rain was earmarked for around mid day.With the recent bad weather,  was also hoping that the River Ingrebourne had not burst its banks and flooded all the viewing area.Lots of exposed mud with up to 7 Green Sandpipers pretty regular, last week Dick Jeffries had a Wood Sandpiper briefly.
On arrival at the viewing area, the whole lot was under water, that was my rare wader up the swanny for another year. Green  and a Common Sandpiper on a rock present along with single Shoveler, 4 Gadwall and 17 Teal.

Viewing area

Pressed on with a mind to check the 2 horse paddocks out, in particular the top paddock, every year it seems to produce Whinchat and Wheatear regular.Also had one eye in the sky for a raptor as it was hazy sunshine with little wind, not like Tuesdays blow out.Picked up some summer migrants en route to the 1st paddock with Common and Lesser Whitethroat seen along with 2 Reed Warblers.1st paddock produced very little but the 2nd came up trumps.
Located 2 Wheatear and 3 Whinchat on the fence line, Whinchat bring my patch total to 118 for the year, now only one off my highest total.Overhead hawking were an estimated 60 House Martins, very likely most are from St.Georges Hospital where they breed, it is a very large colony.



All the time I was watching the Whinchats and Wheatears I could hear Yellow Wagtails calling, I have always found it hard to pick them up in the sky when they are calling, these though were centred on the ground around a couple of horses.
Located a small group of 6 working a horse, all of them stayed near the head as it fed and were snapping up insects as good as any flycatcher.

6 Yellow Wagtails working a horse

Was on a bit of a tight schedule so made tracks back towards the viewing area, was rewarded with a nice lowish Kestrel and then got on to a Common Buzzard coming in from the east, a very nice bonus.
To top the morning off I had a very high Hobby going south on set wings, looked like it was on its way, hopefully this weekend will provide some good vis miging weather.


Common Buzzard

Very high Hobby

Sunday 22 August 2010

Ingrebourne Valley and Rainham August 22nd

Am making the most of this weekend birding as my other half is away with her sisters for a short break, have also been trying to do some photography, as usual the weather is lousy.
I started off the day at the Ingrebourne Valley looking for any migrants, in particular the viewing area looks very good for a rarer wader with lots of exposed mud.Most years it all dries up but this year is looking promising, it has produced in years gone by Pectoral Sandpiper, Little Stint, 2 Wood Sandpipers and most of the more commoner waders.
I gave it a thorough bashing, ended up with Wheatear, 7 Yellow Wagtails, 19 Teal in the viewing area, 3 Green Sandpipers also in the viewing area along with 58 Lapwing.Chiffchaff numbers are rising all the time with 11 recorded along with 4 Lesser Whitethroats, there was also 18 House Martins hawking over the marsh.
Visited Rainhams sea wall for a short period afterwards and recorded 26 Common Terns all moving up river.1 bunch of 7 that I got onto very late was very tightly bunched and flying strongly as a unit, they had the look of Arctics but could not get enougth to confirm id.

Very high Common Buzzard

Returned to the Ingrebourne Valley to search another area for migrants, and the first bird seen was this very high Common Buzzard going north.As the weather was warming up and some sunshine was starting to show I kept an eye out skywards.Added 3 Swifts to the days total and then watched a male Sparrowhawk sparring with a male Kestrel, got some record shots, along with a female Sparrowhawk who came up also.

Male Sparrowhawk and Kestrel

Large female Sparrowhawk

As you can see from the photo above, this female Sparrowhawk looks quite big, they can and have been confused with male Goshawks when they are high up.Continuing the raptor theme I then located another 2 Common Buzzards, allthough they were not in the Valley, these gave reasonable views with both sitting on a branch together.Looking at both afterwards one bird was showing a lot of moult and the other could have possibly been a juvenile given that it was so fresh.

Common Buzzards

Moulting Common Buzzard

Common Buzzards

Also managed to get a nice photo of this Common Darter.

Common Darter

Saturday 21 August 2010

Barking Outfall August 21st

Arrived at the river around 6.00am, usual weather these days with a strong south westerly and grey overcast skies, wheres all the sunshine gone?
Good numbers of Terns were moving up river, and for the duration of my visit ( 3 hours) very few came back out.Not sure how far up they go, if they dont reach East India Dock Basin, they must have good feeding in between.I counted just over 30 moving up and whilst looking for a Black or a Sandwich located a single Arctic Tern which was a nice bonus.
As I was scanning I also picked up a female Common Scoter, presumably the same bird seen a few days back at Crossness, got some records shots, a very welcome patch and site tick ( 91).

Female Common Scoter with Cormorant 

As the tide came in the Cormorants started to work the outfall in a largish group of 15 or so birds, so far I have seen them take Eels, Crabs, small flatties and something that looks very much like a prawn.

Cormorants working the surf

In addition to the Cormorants there were the usual Common Sandpipers with 3 present, also 4 Oystercatchers, a single Swift over, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 38 Mute Swans and 6 Teal.

2 Oystercatchers
From here I visited the Ingrebourne Valley and decided to walk the Tip looking for Whinchat/Stonechat, both are needed for the patch and with Whinchat showing at Rainham I was quite hopeful.
Allthough I blew out on both, I did get a patch tick when I walked up a Tree Pipit.It came up off the ground with 3 Meadows, in all honesty I would not have given it a second glance, thinking they were all Meadows, if it had not called I would have missed it, the call is very distinctive.Patch tick 116 for the year.
Also found a very confiding Southern Hawker after popping into Rainham for a coffee, the place was deserted, presumably many are at the Fair.

Southern Hawker

Migrant Hawker

Weald Park August 21st

I visited late afternoon, after hearing of good numbers of the rarer migrants located around Bluebell Pond, this is just beyond the entrance car park.On arrival could not find any birds in the area, there was also 2 other chaps looking as well. They eventually found the very large roving flock beyond the pond with many birds in the Oaks in the cattle grazing area.
Could not find the 5 reported Redstarts but did locate most of the other species, thanks to the other 2 birders for the shout.Ended up with the following
Spotted Flycatcher - 12 to 15 highly active birds
Pied Flycatcher - 2 birds seen, female/juvenile types, one with a much stronger wing bar
Wood Warbler - 1 bird seen ( 2 reported )
Willow Warbler - 2
Blackcap- 1
Goldcrest - 2 in Belvedere
Nuthatch - 2
Treecreeper - 2
Coal Tit - 1
Many Blue and Great Tits and also large numbers of Migrant Hawkers.

Friday 20 August 2010

Rainham Marshes August 18th

Day off from work, so visited in the very slim hope that yesterdays White Winged Black Tern may have returned after its encounter with the local Peregrine.As expected this proved negative but not having walked the reserve for a few weeks now, it was a very enjoyable walk.
I missed out on the Spotted Flycather that has been seen recently, and also the Goldcrest that is in with the Long Tailed Tit flock in the cordite are, both are year ticks.LastWinter, on the reserve, Goldcrest were non existant, you were more likely to see a Firecrest, this was also the case on my other patch, Ingrebourne Valley.
Ended the walk with a good assortment of species along with some migrants.
Oystercatcher - 6 in Aveley Bay
Avocet - single Bay
Ruff - 2 on Aveley Pools
Black Tailed Godwits - 9 pools
Ringed Plover - 10 pools
Redshank - 4 pools
Dunlin - 8 pools
Hobby - 2 overhead hawking
Sparrowhawk - female
Wheatear - 3 reserve
Whinchat - 1 reserve
Yellow Wagtail - 2 in with the cattle
Also caught up with the first Wasp Spider of the year for me, looked like it had caught a Grasshopper.

Hobby hunting Dragonflies

Wasp Spider with Grasshopper

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Little Owl

On the way home on Sunday picked up this little poser

Canvey Point and Vange Marshes Sunday August 15th

Feeding Spoonbill with 2 others in background

Very distant Spoonbill

The weather for Sunday looked promising for sea watching so visited at dawn with Shaun and Martin, despite it being still quite early for 'goodies' to come into the Thames we were quite optomistic given what had been seen in the Thames recently.Weather was overcast with a good north easterly wind.
From 5.30 to 8.00am the following was seen
3 Bar Tailed Godwits
16 Black Terns - groups of 6,2 and 8
Great Skua - 1 up river
A total of 7 Arctic Skuas going up river, only 2 seen to come out
9 Common Scoter
2 very early  Med Gulls
Many Common/Commic Terns as you would expect with around a dozen or so Sandwich seen coming and going around the point.Did not pick up Little Tern but I gather they have been seen recently.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Migrating Cormorants

Looked up to see these on Saturday very high, ticker missed a beat for a second, managed to get a record shot, dont often see them on the move that high up.

Saturday August 14th

Barking Outfall
On arrival  was optomistic that there could be a good Tern around but despite giving it a good while no Black or Sarnie put in an appearance.They have started to show and it is early days yet so will keep plugging away.I did manage 18 Commmon Terns along with 4 Oystercatchers, 7 Common Sandpipers and the first group of Shoveler back numbering 5 birds.
For some reason there is a large build up of Mute Swans on the river and they have been steadily increasing over the last month, they are now up to 41 birds, last year I was lucky if I got 3 or 4.

Barking Bay
I visited in the hope of seeing the Black Tern which I had been told about, got lucky  with one seen but they were distant views over at Crossness Outfall.The tide was now out with a lot of exposed mud but unfortunately hardly any waders present barring a solitary Ringed Plover.Was also hoping that the 4 Avocets at Rainham may come down this way.
Yellow Legged Gull

Dagenham Riverside
Again very little on the mud with only 2 Common Sandpipers seen + 9 Common Terns moving down towards Rainham.With little Tern and wader activity, something is happening, I am starting to look at Gulls, never thought it would happen as I have always been a hooked beak and talon man.Am now setting my sights on finding a Caspian Gull, I know they turn up directly across the river at Crossness most winters recently.Went through them and did find an adult Yellow Legged Gull along with a couple of immature Great Black Backed. 

Red Bull event Battersea Power Station, Friday August 13th

I know its not birding but having ridden moto x bikes many,many years ago, some of these stunts these riders were doing were little short of incredible.I visited Battersea Power Station on Friday and got a few shots off as I was doing the rounds, light was not great but as you can see from the photo's, they were loop the looping, upside down, sideways, off the bike completely, all this whilst 30 foot in the air.

Stunt riders

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Saturday Aug 7th Barking Bay

I visit the Bay probably about 6 times a year, it is one of those places that you have to be very careful where you park, it is a desolate stretch of road and vandalism has always been a problem.
The whole site is earmarked for developement unfortunately, like most Brownfields sites in East London, they just cant leave them alone.Without doubt it is underwatched, only a few locals cover the site every now and then, just as I do.
It is directly opposite Crossness and I knew that a Sanderling had been seen recently by the Crossness crew, so I visited in the hope of catching up with it.
As I walked over to the Thames a good sized Linnet flock came up, numbering around 30 birds, went through them as you do looking for that special rarity that I hope one day to find, its out there somewhere.
A quick scan as I arrived at the river showed the tide to be out so was hopeful of some waders, was not to be disappointed.
Female Ruddy Shelduck