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Sunday 26 May 2013

Barking Bay

May 25th

This year I have not made that many visits, most of it is just down to the fact that I am now working away every week on what must be said are very enjoyable surveys. Due to this when I arrive back for the weekend it is catch up time with the Peregrines, such has been the case this weekend.

Peregrines will always come first, rightly so, I have now been monitoring them in London for 13 years, after a visit to one site on Saturday I then squeezed a visit in to the Bay.

Walking out initially along the green sward I was rather hoping that one of the recent Sanderlings had lingered, not to be although John found one later ‘across the water’ at Crossness. Walking down I did locate some waders in the shape of 3 Ringed Plovers and a Common Sandpiper, there were also 2 pair of Oystercatchers, both already incubating. Sadly, I hope I am wrong, the Oyc’s are likely to again be predated, presumably the same pairing last year lost all 3 of their chicks. Saying that one pair has dived in with the Common Terns so that stands a far better chance of success.

A redundant Dolphin Jetty, shingled out it is perfect for Common Terns

The Common Tern Jetty, Oystercatcher far left, smart bird.

Common Terns were everywhere picking off food of the surface of the mud and on reaching the far end I scoped the colony, as near as I can make out this year we have around 24 pairs, good stuff. I am still hoping that I can get a couple more of the unused Dolphin Jetties converted for habitat for the Terns, in this way the colony could well be doubled, it is now too late but hopefully others could be made suitable by 2014.

Common Terns worming on the mud

Late Wheatear

Moving inland I looked for Whinchat, it is now getting a bit late but I did locate a single Wheatear, other than this there was very little in the way of migrants, not unexpected given that we are now nearly into June.

Good to get back on the patch again, will hopefully catch up with returning migrants now in the autumn.

Friday 17 May 2013

The last week or so....

I have been working away lately so not getting a lot of time to blog, below are a few shots from the last couple of weeks. No apologies for more Red Kite photos, what are you supposed to do when they keep flying over your head.

Getting a rare sight - Grey Partridge

How could you ever get fed up photographing these?

I also watched a curious meeting between a Muntjac and a Fox, hope I have the Deer right, the Muntjac just seemed curious as to what the Fox was up to.It was the Fox who moved first.

Friday 10 May 2013

New Zealand

Tiri Tiri Matangi Island 

This site had been planned for a must see for quite some time, not only was it full of endemics but it was a spectacular island and glad to say my wife Christine came along with me as well. The trip cost 66 dollars each, around £38.00 sterling and the crossing to the island from Auckland took around 1 hour 15 minutes via another port of call Gulf Harbour.

On the way Buller’s Shearwater were numerous and good numbers of Arctic Skua’s were present harrying the plentiful White Fronted Terns.
On arrival you first have to go through the procedures of what you can and can’t do as it is such a sensitive eco system, once completed, there were probably around 170 of us, your off on your own.

Walking along with a large group of people was not ideal for seeing birds, so at the first chance we detoured off on one of the marked trails, immediately we started seeing birds. First one then another Fantail made themselves known, very approachable and I soon realised why they were sticking with us like cattle. As we walked in the low grass we were disturbing Moths, the Fantails were then picking them off around our legs at their leisure, this went on for around a 100 metres before both birds disappeared. 


Still in exotic woodland we moved on, I got brief glimpses of a New Zealand Robin before coming across 3 Saddlebacks, these again were very approachable, we then saw a rather close Bellbird along with a number of Brown Quail. Everything we had seen so far seemed to have no fear of people, the whole island is predator free so there does not seem to be a natural alert and awareness. Other than the occasional Australasian Harrier overhead, there is nothing to trouble them.



One of the birds which the island holds is Kokako, its other name is Blue Wattled Crow, this was going to be the hard one and so it proved, we covered a lot of ground but unfortunately it was not to be. I heard later that the large group that we detoured from had spectacular views, sod’s law. 

Time was marching on so we headed for the visitor centre, this was spectacular to say the least, Australasian Harriers overhead, Takahe walking around, more Bellbirds and Saddlebacks with Tui’s monopolising the feeders. A New Zealand Pigeon then dropped in, up close they are big, a good size larger than our Woodie and nowhere near as common, in the whole trip I saw around 6.



Big boy -New Zealand Pigeon

After refreshments and rattling off god knows how many frames we left and entered another trail, we quickly located Whitehead (lots) and then came across Stitchbirds, another one that I was after, the males are nice. 
Coming to a gap I then got good views of a New Zealand Robin, these were another must see bird, same shape as ours, perhaps a little larger and seems to stand more upright.

New Zealand Robin


Rounding a corner I then got Kakariki (Red Crowned Parakeet), this was harder to get close to than the 4 Eastern Rosellas that we had seen earlier. 

It was getting close so we made our way back to the boat for a 3.30pm pick up; 5 hours had passed very very quickly, always the case when you’re having a good time. If you miss the boat, and it leaves dead on 3.30pm, your there until the next day unless you want to savage your wallet.

A passing finale was 2 Fernbirds creeping around just about viewable, these make Groppers look showy; Fernbirds are hard to see tending to stick to deep cover. A final look at the Blue Penguin nest box was an end to a cracking trip.

You can also arrange to stay overnight to catch up with Little Spotted Kiwi, next time….

Friday 3 May 2013

Catching Up

Of late I have been working away and have been lucky enough to catch up with some good birds, below are some from the last week or 2.There’s always a twig in the way…..

Falstebo no - England 9 of 12 Common Buzzards seen thermalling

Odd Chiffy?

This was the other week at Barking Bay