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Tuesday 30 August 2011

Southend - Bank Holiday Monday

 Along with many others I headed for the coast in the morning with my wife Christine, the idea being to walk along the shoreline from the Pier to Thorpe Bay and then return. We arrived just after 9.00am and for once the weather was good for a Bank Holiday, also there was not that many people about ( this soon changed and the weather ) so we started the walk.

Mediterranean and Common Gull ( click on photos to enlarge)

Mediterranean Gull
Ringed Plover 
I had bought my camera because I know what happens when I don’t, as I said there was not too many people around so it was ok walking down the beach with the camera. It is unfortunate in the world that we live in that you are viewed with suspicion walking along with a telephoto lense, I can understand it, I would probably be the same if I was sitting there with my family. I was fortunate that my wife was with me, alone who knows, they don’t know that I am walking along the beach hoping to photograph birds on the shoreline.


Sanderling and Ringed Plover
As we walked further along I starting to see Gulls and then we came across a large flock of roosting Common Terns, certainly over 40, these were in and out evading the joggers and dog walkers.
As you do I started to go through the Gulls and recorded 6 Meditteranean’s, mostly adults going into winter plumage, they are striking in any plumage.

Common Tern

Mixed flock of Sanderling, Turnstone and Ringed Plover

Sanderling and Ringed Plover
Juvenile female Peregrine
The highlight was finding a flock of 29 Sanderling, cracking looking waders again many nearly in winter plumage.
Other highlights included

Yellow Wagtail – 2 on the beach
Wheatear – 1 on the beach
Ringed Plover – 60+
Turnstone – around 30 birds roosting on the moored boats offshore                                                   Swift – 1 overhead
Peregrine – a female juvenile overhead toward the end of the walk
Common Seal – 4 hauled out in the channel opposite Rossi’s

Common Tern

A very enjoyable walk.

Friday 26 August 2011

Canvey Point

August 26th

Decided on an early morning visit as the tide was due to peak around 10-10.30am, the weather was foul, overcast, wet and eventually the wind settled to a North Westerly. Ideal conditions in which I hoped for some Skua’s.

Needless to say I did not see one, I gave it about 2 hours, Jeff and others were there when I left, they may have seen some.

Sandwich Tern (click on photos to enlarge)

Curlew coming in to roost

Common Tern
The undoubted highlight was finding 2 Black Necked Grebes sitting on the river, one still retaining summer plumage and the other more into winter, these came in with the tide and later flew out before landing again. A good bird for the point and certainly a first for me here,I suspect one of these was the bird that Jeff had seen 5 minutes previous distantly.

2 Black Necked Grebes going out, I know crap photo
Also seen were

Sandwich Tern – present but not in the usual numbers

Black Tern – 9 seen, I know Jeff had more as he was there earlier

Common Scoter – 3

Grey Seal – 1

Harbour Porpoise – 2 sightings

Arctic Tern – 1 definate

One can only wish

Not even sure if a Lottery win would cover this
Also seen coming in was a luxury Yacht called the AVIVA, not up in Roman’s class size wise but certainly a cracking looking ship.

Thursday 18 August 2011

The Valley

August 17th

Decided to make the most of it as I had a follow on dentist appointment, so naturally out at dawn birding before the dentist.

The viewing area was crowded with birds roosting for the night, this included about 60 Canada Geese, 30 Mallard, Teal numbers are up to 19, 8 Gadwall and 11 Shoveler all fresh in.

Flock of Lapwing in the viewing area (click on photos to enlarge)

Green Sandpiper
Waders were represented by 71 Lapwing and a single Green Sandpiper.

Moving on from here I checked both paddocks for migrants, none seen so pressed on to the Reservoir.


Common Sandpiper
En route I became aware that Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler and Common Whitethroat were everywhere, especially Chiffies, many were feeding up on Berry bushes. Water Rail were also calling along with at least 6 Cetti’s Warblers.

With a change in the wind to an easterly I hoped for a ‘ goodie ‘ but nothing materialized.

On arrival at the Reservoir Great Crested Grebe numbers had increased to 14, also seen were 6 Yellow Wagtails, Little Egret, Common Tern and 2 Common Sandpipers.

After the Reservoir I walked the top paddock and flushed 2 Red Legged Partridges at the edge of the corn stubble.

No major migrant movement as yet but its just great to be out.

After the dentist and a meeting I popped into Barking Bay and grabbed an hour, highlights were 2 Ringed Plovers, Whinchat, 19 Common Sandpipers, 11 Wasp Spiders including an enormous female and 2 Silver Y’s.

A very impressive large female Wasp Spider


Silver Y camouflaging itself on top of a plant

Close up
Hopefully the Whinchat heralds the start of some migration.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Barking Outfall and Bay

August 12th

Along with many other birders in London I am wondering where all the migrants have gone, I have been reading the London Wiki, it is the same everywhere, no passerines and nothing coming up the river. All we seem to get these days is a westerly, not ideal for migration.

Had intended to stay in, tooth, or lack of it still playing up but the lure was too strong and had to go out.

Little Egret
First port of call was Barking Outfall where I had an impressive 12 Common Sandpipers, for as long as I can remember the Outfall has always pulled them in. Also seen was a Little Egret, a site 1st, they never seem to come this far upriver. Interesting to see also Common Sandpipers walking round its feet, I know they would not do this with a Grey Heron.

3 Yellow Wagtail flyovers were the only migrants seen, other than this there were 7 Common Terns on the river with 6 Oystercatchers on the mud.

Green Veined Whites

Onwards and upwards I pressed on to Barking Bay, again no passerine migrants, must admit this place spoiled me and Paul in the spring with some real good birds seen so cant complain.

4 of the 5 Greenshank, rather distant


The mud did produce 5 Greenshank that dropped in, tide was rising, they stayed for about 10 minutes and then flew back down river. Elsewhere there was a single Dunlin, a Swift and at least 60 Common Terns on the river.

Common Sandpiper
This section of river like the Outfall seems always to produce good numbers of Common Sandpiper, today was no different with 19 bunched up on the rising tide, with the birds seen at the Outfall that’s makes a total of 31 Common Sandpipers. It would be good to find the roost, the figure could be higher.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Two Tree Island

August 11th

A brief visit, about an hour as the tide was dropping, off work with a tooth extraction , climbing the walls indoors so drove down to the island for a bit of light relief, mainly to take my mind off this bloody tooth. For unrivalled pain, both before, during and after removal, I can recommend having a badly infected back tooth.

Golden Plover, possibly fresh in

The distant flock ( click on photos to enlarge )
 I arrived just right as the mud was starting to show with various groups of waders circling looking to feed.

One flock dropped straight in, a good sized flock off Golden Plover, 31 in number, many in summer plumage, in amongst them was a single Knot, looked good for a juvenile, without doubt the earliest I have had both winter species.

Golden Plover


From the distant Saltmarsh some Curlew were starting to show from roost, amongst them were 4 Whimbrel, these departed towards the Marina. A single Greenshank was heard and overhead a group of 14 Swifts were heading towards Kent.

Adult and juvenile Sandwich Terns in amongst the Turnstone

Before I went to Two Tree, I dropped into the Marina and checked the high tide roost, this held 189 Turnstone and a very good count of 22 Sandwich Terns. I was hoping for Little Tern but none seen around the Marina or Canvey Point.

Sunday 7 August 2011

Rainham RSPB

Sunday Aug 7th

Arrived pretty early, tide was peaking so decided to do the foreshore first in the hope of roosting waders.

This proved a good call with 3 Whimbrel seen to arrive and land on the posts in the Saltmarsh. 6 Common Sandpipers were also seen further up river feeding on the edge of the sea wall.

Whimbrel ( click on photos to enlarge )

Grey Heron
A minimum of 7 Common Terns were patrolling the river, very windy so no small birds around.

I also got my first look at the new hide, must admit very impressive, it looks out to the Scrape. It’s just a pity that the water levels cant be controlled better to keep the water levels constant, it would certainly attract more waders and wildfowl. In the breeding season, Lapwing and Redshank need this for successful breeding.

New Hide

Aveley pools held 5 Green Sandpipers, a Greenshank and the usual assortment of ducks.

On the Butterfly front, 3 Small Tortoiseshells were seen, seems to be a better year for these, along with 2 fresh Comma’s, Red Admiral and a Holly Blue.

Wasp Spider

Common Lizards

Small Tortoiseshell


Starling and Whimbrel

Finally caught up with Wasp Spider with 3 located in the same area,no big females seen but hopefully next time.