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Sunday 29 December 2013

Grey Seals

Over the weekend I popped into Barking Outfall in the hope of a goodie after the recent high winds, it does produce more wildfowl in the colder snaps but I was optimistic as usual, the tide was also up.

It was whilst I was leaning over the side searching the wildfowl that I saw a Seals head pop up pretty close in, furthermore it was a Grey Seal, the last one if I remember correctly was a Common Seal that hauled itself out on the mud a good few years back. Quite surprised to see one this far up, especially a Grey, they have been getting up to 6 at Rainham but these have all been mostly Commons.

Still taking in air as it drops below the surface

As I watched it was quite obvious it was after the Thick Lipped Mullet, there were fish jumping out here and there escaping followed by a large bow wave made by the seal as it chased the Mullet. As I have said in past posts the Outfall attracts large shoals of Mullet and is a regular food source for both birds and fish. It was whilst it was doing this that it popped its head up one time for air, had a look round and dived again and then reappeared 40 meters away in a matter of seconds. This wrinkled my forehead immensely as there was no way it could have seemingly got there that quick or could it? Shortly after all became clear, there were actually two of the beasties.

The smaller Cow with a Mullet

As I continued to watch, I eventually saw both together at the same time, one was a big Bull and the other a smaller Cow, whether or not they were working as a team on the Mullet is hard to say, occasionally as I continued watching they joined up and there was some interaction. I carried on watching them for a good couple of hours, got some photos but against the light there not great.


Down the hatch

Both together


Bull behind - considerably bigger

As you can see from the photos also they were successful on the Mullet, in a 1 hour period they caught 3 fish, one quite sizable.

Friday 27 December 2013

Canvey Point

December 27th 7.30am to 9.30am

Despite the winds being in the wrong direction, a south south westerly was forecast early morning with gusts up to 60mph, I thought I might be in with a chance of a goodie or 2.The trip was as much about getting out after the Christmas over indulging, my diet is totally buggered and out the window, have to start again on January 1st.
Arriving rather too early I tucked myself behind the sea wall round the corner out of the strong wind which was really gusting, looking at the sea showed the tide starting to drop with some mud showing looking towards the Marina.

Definitely too early!

As the light got better large flocks of Dunlin started to show heading upriver and over to Kent all coming from the roosts at Two Tree Island, additionally small flocks of Dark Bellied Brent’s followed the same course.

As the morning progressed it became obvious that there was little movement with no Divers or Auks seen, 9 Common Scoter were noted and up until 8.30am an adult Mediterranean Gull was the pick of the Gulls. Shortly after this I picked up a group of 4 birds heading strongly upriver, 3 of these were adult Herring Gulls but the 4th appeared to be a white winger. The bird looked to be in 1st winter plumage, a light coffee colour all over contrasting with even paler wings, at distance, it was mid river, it stood out pretty well in the poor light. Going on size, it was of a similar size to the Herring’s, it looked pretty good for an Iceland. At that distance, it was way too far to id, it could just as well have been a small Glaucous or even a leucistic bird as Steve noted, I gather there are several at Mucking Tip.

I am not into my Gulls, but must admit this bird did look good for a 1st winter Iceland having seen a couple over the years at Rainham, too far out though unfortunately to identify.

In total for the remainder of the morning I ended up with 194 Dark Bellied Brent’s going up or across, other birds of note seen were a long flock of Knot which I would estimate at around 2400, a massive flock heading upriver I suspect for Egypt Bay.

The dark line is part of a massive Knot Flock heading upriver.

Nothing earth shattering, all we seem to get these days are westerly/south westerly winds, easterlies or even north easterlies seem to be few and far between, I suspect it has something to do with climate change.

Seen recently on a brief visit to Cliffe RSPB

Monday 23 December 2013

Christmas Bash

On December 12th we had our annual Christmas dinner, this time with a change of venue, the Harrow in Hornchurch.
Below are a number of photos with a few light hearted captions, a good night was had by all, the complimentary headache for me the following morning vouched for that.

Just like to say a Merry Christmas to my mates and readers of this blog, good birding for 2014.

Bradders and Jono

Dean and Russ

Lee looking cool

Paul with Lee drifting off

Dick on the left, like me, getting close to the bus pass,probably closer

Yours truly trying to look intelligent

Shaun dreaming of Gulls - Steve beyond

Jono giving his Christmas speech

From left to right: Dave, Dick, Steve, Dean and Russ

Mart, still thinking of his neighbors party

Shaun thinking of an Ivory Gull

Two stout chaps

Wednesday 18 December 2013

White Fronted Geese

December 18th

With a few hours to spare in the morning and with some sunshine showing early a.m, I headed to Rainham RSPB in the hope of catching up with the White Fronted Geese.

Did I get lucky, considering how hard they have been to get near and photograph since they graced the Reserve I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time for a flyby.

Below is a section of photos taken on my usual walk round.

Monday 16 December 2013

Colour ringed Black Tailed Godwits

On Sunday after finishing a roost survey at Fords, Dagenham I visited the Stone Barges at Rainham directly after.
As yet I have had few Godwits on the Fords Jetty so suspected that they were either roosting on the Barges or the Reserve, the Barges it was.

A count revealed 317 of them with a scattering of Redshank, Dunlin, Lapwing and a single Ruff, it seems this is becoming a regular on the roost.
The weather it has to be said was horrible with grey skies and constant rain showers but got a few shots off anyway.
I also noticed that 2 of the Godwits were colour ringed, I suspect from Greenland/Iceland and will have a look as to tracing the ringing program where they originated from.

Blue over Orange

Light green over red

As you can see one is blue over orange and the other is light green over red but this one is above the joint of the leg so I suspect this signifies something.