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Monday, 21 October 2013

Essex and Kent

It’s that time of year again when we start winter surveys, on Friday I made my first visit to the Essex side near Coryton; it’s still very mild for this time of year and being a site a good distance from the Thames I was not expecting too much on the Farmland.
Needless to say it was very quiet to say the least, hardly any Redwing present as yet despite the numbers that have come in and a surprise was not seeing a Corn Bunting, they were regular last year. The highlights came in the shape of 6 Avocets on the Creek, at least 6 Cetti’s Warblers calling, a single peregrine on a pylon and a pair of Stonechats.

Some good birds but as per last year numbers will increase as winter takes a hold.

On Saturday we hopped across the water to the Hoo Peninsula, it rained more or less nonstop from 11.30 until just gone 3 o’clock, despite this we had some good birds and it was quite obvious there was a big movement west of Chaffinch. I recorded over 300 and in amongst these you could hear the odd Brambling calling.
Marsh Harriers were also very evident with no less than 5 juvenile/immature types seen so it looks a good year for them, also watched a Merlin trying to take a small passerine before a Kestrel tried to mug the both of them. Paul was closer to this and had much better views than I.

Other highlights were 4 Common Scoter going up river and then seen to land, and shortly later a flock of 10 Gannets went up as far as the bend, and then promptly came back out again.

Gannets heading up river

Bird of the day without doubt goes to a Richard’s Pipit firstly flying over Paul giving the House Sparrow call and then me, this follows one seen last year on the site so I am pretty fortunate as they can be a hard bird to catch up with.

On Sunday I visited a peregrine site at dawn but unfortunately the peregrines had roosted elsewhere, I gave it an hour then left, as is my habit I dropped into Rainham RSPB on the way back for a brief look see.

Arriving on the sea wall I scanned the river, no less than 6 Common Seals were hauled out on the Kent side but it was evident from the skies that the heavens were going to open up, I headed for the new hide nearest to the Visitor Centre.

6 Common Seals hauled out on the Kent side

I stayed for a couple of hours in the hide, rain most of the time but some brief sunshine occasionally. Messed around with the camera but also saw some good birds top of which was a Jack Snipe which dropped in with 6 Common Snipe, try as I might I could not relocate it.
Also saw a Marsh Harrier putting the fear of god in all, this was the reason the Snipe dropped in, even the Wigeon panicked at the site of it and took flight.

Time well spent with the camera/lens, didn’t quite get the results that I want – sun wasn’t right position, too dark, bloody rain, forgot to change this, forgot to change that and so on, too much to remember.

Little Egret in the murk and rain

Thoroughly enjoyable though.

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