Click on photos to enlarge, please do not copy photos without permission

Thursday 25 September 2014

Rainham Marshes RSPB

September 25th

After my bike ride on the previous day and scoring with a Raven by the Stone Barges, a site tick no less, another visit was in order taking in the usual circuit.

Unbelievably though, through the bike riding and dieting I am losing weight and getting fitter, I very much doubt at the next Birders drink(Oct 3rd) that my mates will recognise me, I was 15s 8lbs and am now 14s 12Ibs.By the 3rd I could well be totally unrecognizable and a shadow of my former self.

The competitive edge in me though is still there at 57, and I am looking for ‘ burn up’s’ on the bike riding circuit, although the other day I got totally stuffed by a woman who left me for dead, good fun though. I put it down to the fact that she had a better bike than me.

Birding - a good morning with some sunshine, I was hoping for some movement – Hirundines, Pipits etc.. in fact there was very little, only 4 House Martins seen and around 20 Meadow Pipits going over the Reserve.

Little else in the way of migrants as I covered the River Wall, down to Aveley Bay Car Park and then back again before entering the Reserve.
Not much in regard to waders but the undoubted highlight was 7 Common Seals hauled out on the Kent side, the highest total I have had since time began.

Distant Kent views of the 7 Common Seals

The Reserve however produced some good birds as I entered in the shape of 7 Bearded Tits frequenting the reed bed by the Pill Box. Every now and then undertaking the towering flight as if there going somewhere, then thinking better of it and dropping back to the Reed Bed, some photos below.

Pressing on produced a Common Buzzard hovering distantly over the Silt Lagoons with 2 Stonechat just before you get to the Northern Boardwalk.

Aveley Pools held around 40 Wigeon, a single Black Tailed Godwit and a Green Sandpiper, I couldn’t locate any Pintail as yet but suspect they will arrive soon.

Other highlights as I headed back to the Centre were 2 Kingfishers.

Despite the sunshine, it was the first time that the day had a colder feel to it; I have always preferred winter birding so looking forward to the colder weather.

Monday 22 September 2014

Canvey Point and Two Tree Island

September 20th

With the murky weather and a high tide of around 10.30am I headed down to the Point arriving at 7.50am, only a slight north easterly but you never know.
Visibility was only mid river and occasionally I got glimpses of the Kent side before the gloom covered it again, my reasoning was that the murk might well bring something in despite the lack of wind.

In a nutshell, it didn’t, I watched from the above time until around 9.30am and although I had some decent birds, there were no rarer seabirds of note.

Dark Bellied Brent's heading upriver

Grey Plover showing the armpits - single Knot as well

Saying that I got my first Dark Bellied Brent’s of the 2nd winter period with 41 seen, other highlights are below.

Sandwich Tern – 4
Ringed Plover – 110 on the mud
Bar Tailed Godwit – 2
Grey Plover – around 80 odd going to roost
Yellow Wagtail – 2 over

Other than this it was very quiet so I headed for……..

Two Tree Island

It was not that higher tide so many of the Black Tailed Godwits were still out on the mud on arrival but around 60 were present in the scrape.


I started to scan through; I was alone in the hide, very quiet other than the distant tannoy with the commentator getting very excited on the Hadleigh Mountain Bike course.

4 Golden Plover were on the scrape along with 14 Knot, another flock of 60 Golden Plover came in, circled and then continued on there way. Redshank were just about everywhere and I expect the total easily topped 400, there was also 21 Avocet in a tight bunch along with 27 Greenshank, 6 Grey Plovers,32 Dunlin and 60+ Ringed Plover in one area.

Golden Plover

However the pick of the bunch was a Curlew Sandpiper, found it, lost it and then refound it again, another wader in my case that I just don’t get to see enough off, need to get out more.

Curlew Sandpiper nearest and in flight

A nice quality assortment of waders, decent weather and sun was just starting to break through as I walked back, a good visit.

Friday 19 September 2014

Ingrebourne Valley Whinchats

Below are some photos taken by Russ Sherriff of the Whinchats yesterday that were frequenting Ingrebourne Hill,up to 6 birds were present.
As you can see, excellent photos, thanks to Russ for letting me use them.

Thursday 18 September 2014

Ingrebourne Valley Ruff

Below are photos of the 4 Ruff that are still frequenting the Viewing Area, well done to Dave McGouth on finding them.

Only the 3rd record for the site if I recall correctly following on from 17 birds that were present from August 25th to September 2nd 2000 and 6 flyovers on October 3rd 2011.

The viewing area is looking the best it has done for a few years, lots of mud is starting to show, hopefully the river will not burst its banks and flood as usual.

Monday 15 September 2014

Valley - Rainham Circuit

September 15th

As part of the latest fitness regime I am taking to the bike to try and decrease my waistline, dieting and exercise is the only way at 57, I can’t bloody run anymore, how long it will last is anyone’s guess.
I am even going to get some proper bike riding gear although I refuse to wear Lycra shorts at my age, something’s are just not English, older men and  Lycra is not the done thing I’m afraid.

Anyway back to the circuit, I started in the Valley, still 25 House Martins overhead near the Hospital but first port of call was the Viewing Area.
6 Black Tailed Godwits, 2 Snipe, Little Egret were present along with good numbers of Lapwing and Teal.

Black Tailed Godwit - Viewing Area

Next stop was Ingrebourne Hill , I covered most of it on the bike but pretty quiet although I did have 3 calling Yellow Wagtails over, these were a year tick so good news, the one bird I have failed to see much this year is Tree Pipit. Never a common migrant at the Valley, I have not even seen one at Rainham.

By now I was warmed up and I doubt if Bradley Wiggins would have caught me as I headed for Rainham, riding through the western Marsh produced 4 Kestrels, 2 Common Buzzards and a brief Marsh Harrier seen over the Silts.

Distant Kestrel, very clean likely a juvenile

Pressing on next was the Serin mound, here I found 2 Whinchat’s and a Stonechat, the first since last winter, hopefully their numbers are on the up again.

Stonechat - a welcome sight.

Plenty of Linnet and Goldfinch as I headed down past Aveley Bay, a few Black Tailed Godwits could be seen in the glare but little else in the way of waders.

Heading towards the Barges I then got very very lucky and came across a Guillemot on the Essex side, it was right opposite the Erith Wind Turbine and was slowly making its way up river, a site tick no less. The only other one I have had was in Barking Bay a couple of winters ago if I remember correctly, rather unusual to see one in bright sunshine and not weather related. Saying that I suspect the recent north easterlies have pushed it in.

Rather unusual on a bright day - Guillemot

Moving on I came to an area just before the Barges, there were also 200+ large Gulls sitting on the rocks and the river, not good news for the Guillemot heading this way.

Another 2 Whinchat were located on the Tip as I turned for home, very little else was seen on the return leg other than good numbers of Gadwall.

Friday 12 September 2014

Tall Ships

We popped down to Rainham late afternoon in the week to see the Tall Ships going out, we missed the massive Polish ship but below are some of the others.

Quite a number of people on this one

Monday 8 September 2014

Returning Sanderling

As is my habit at the end of August/start of September, annually I always head down to Southend to see if the little chaps have returned, Sanderling.
A delight to watch and dare I say it, a photographers favourite they are an entertaining bird and a true winter migrant.

I caught up with them on Thursday and Saturday, both days overcast and murky, not good for photos. However it’s not all about photos and I enjoyed watching them, like a lot of people I like being near the sea also, makes you feel good.

Although it’s still early I did a rough count on both days and arrived at a figure of around 275 birds, I couldn’t pick out any flag ringed birds but they will no doubt come, they usually show up well, as in other years.

In relation to adults and the size of the flock, there were juvenile bird’s present, this year as with others I will be undertaking another Sanderling survey, I intend to have a good look mid September.

On both days walking along the beach, the birds are on the move quite a lot, joggers and general walkers seem to keep them on there toes but admittedly they do take it in their stride, seemingly just flying back once the disturbance has passed.

I suspect they could roost in an area totally disturbance free but it seems this stretch of beach is there wintering roost area, flying a long distance to some far roost burns up valuable energy, especially in colder weather.

Turnstones however have it sussed, no disturbance just take over a boat.

Also came across a few migrants on the beach, Yellow Wagtails were more often heard rather than seen overhead and Meadow Pipits were also on the move.

A single Wheatear was also seen.