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Monday, 17 January 2011

Barking Outfall January 15th

A typical English winters day greeted me on arrival, a strong westerly with a grey overcast sky, absolutely crap for photography, hopefully the birding would be better than the weather. As it got light I started to pick out some birds on the water, Shoveler, Gadwall and Teal mainly, the tide was still high but starting to drop.

Bad photo of the Cormorant, you can just about see the fins

As I scanned I picked up a Cormorant near the Outfall rocks, it was trying hard to drag something along the top of the water, as I got the scope on it, I realised it was a massive fish. The fish was as long as the Cormorant and was probably a Bass or a Mullet, the Cormorant was holding it at the top while the fish was trying to dive. It had absolutely no chance of eating the fish, but despite this it would not let it go, the contest eventually disappeared round the rocks.

Black Tailed Godwits searching for mud at high water

Small groups of Black Tailed Godwits had started to show looking for some early mud along with the odd Redshank and a single Grey Plover, also heard Common Sandpiper calling. Scanning through the hordes of Gulls mid river produced a cracking 1st winter Mediterranean Gull, only the 2nd record for the site after last years 2 juveniles.

Decided to move further down where I had seen the 2 Greater Scaup on January 2nd, it proved a good move as the tide was just revealing some mud and the Blackwits were just starting to pile in.

Black Tailed Godwits dropping in

A pair of Greater Scaup, closest bird a female by size

Straight away I picked up 2 Greater Scaup in with the Pochard flock so presumed that these were the 2 same birds from Jan 2nd, those birds were 1st winters, on looking at these 2, it looked like they were 1st winters but not so advanced in plumage. The duck flock on this stretch of the Thames stretch’s round to the right upriver, and is an area I cant access, it is possible that the other 2 could still be present.

Drake Greater Scaup

Duck Greater Scaup, quite obviously feeding on the bottom

Additional species seen were 98 Redshank at roost, 4 Grey Wagtails and 2 Great Crested Grebes working the Outfall.

Roosting Redshank
Duck numbers have drastically reduced now that the freeze is over, I did not do a full count but visibly there is probably only a quarter of January 2nd numbers. The only Duck still present in large numbers was Shelduck, easily over a 100 present.

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