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Sunday 30 August 2020

Abberton Reservoir


Saturday August 29th

After setting out at 4.30am and heading for Parliament to check on the Peregrines, I got as far as the Ship and Shovel and re routed due to crap weather, namely rain, cloud and high wind. Not ideal weather conditions to see and watch peregrines and get some photos, so a spur of the moment decision was arrived at and I decided on Abberton, having seen the recent bird news there.

This is a place that I used to spend a lot of time at in my younger days so eventually arrived after an hour or so’s drive in semi darkness on Layer De La Haye causeway .

Could see the Egret roost straight away, quite obviously it contained 5 Great White Egrets which were dwarfing the Little Egrets, these numbered 27, suspect there could have been more as some were already leaving as I watched them.

After a while the sky feeled up with Martins and Swallows, all feeding up in readiness for the long journey, as the morning wore on I suspect there were probably around 400 on both causeways.

I have to say that despite the overcast grey conditions, strong wind and occasional rain I had a really enjoyable morning and caught up with some good birds, as I have said before, there all good but nice to see ones that you don’t that often. I covered both Causeways, Layer De La Haye being the pick of the 2. 

As follows

Great White – 5
Little Egret – 27
Marsh Harrier – 3
Hobby – 2
Common Sandpiper – 1
Mandarin – 1
Common Buzzard – 1
Yellow Wagtail – 12
Goldeneye – 6
Common Tern – 25
Black Tailed Godwit – 1
Pied Wagtail – numerous

Sadly someone had also mown down 6 Mallards on Layer De La Haye causeway, possibly accidental but these days you never know. Its a fast road but you would expect someone would be able to see half a dozen Ducks waddling along in the road,even in the dark.

Monday 17 August 2020



August 12th

We decided on a visit early a.m, in this case 6.15a.m, mainly to avoid the heat but also to catch the high tide, wasn’t expecting too much, but as ever nice to stretch the legs and have a stroll.

Early morning also gave us the chance to avoid the crowds, when we left at 8.45a.m; quite a few people were starting to arrive.

Mediterranean Gull was expected but I was hoping for some juveniles, having seen some on a previous visit a short while back. They are quite smart as Gulls go, if you read this blog, you know Gulls don’t really float my boat, Juv Med’s though are nice.

These days, I haven’t got the patience to sift through hundreds of Gulls, but hats off to anyone who does.

I have to say it was a really good walk that produced no less than 4 Juvenile Med’s, around 12 other Med’s of varying ages, 3 calling Yellow Wagtail flyovers, 28 Ringed Plovers, 19 Sanderling and 9 Turnstone.

                                                                  Robyn and Chris 

Amongst the Black Head’s were a few Common Gulls as well sitting out the tide, being early morning I was also hoping for a Wheatear or 2 on the beach having seen them before here at this time of year. None seen and negative on any fishing/roosting Common Terns, another species I was hoping to see close up.

However, a thoroughly enjoyable 2 and a half hours and I know my Granddaughter Robyn absolutely loved it, her first visit this year to the beach.

Sunday 9 August 2020

Beckton latest



Plenty of activity on the site and good to confirm a minimum of 3 Sparrowhawk juveniles, as per normal very loud giving their positions away.

I didn’t locate the nest, the jungle foliage trying to access it was comparable with the Amazon, too much for my little legs and I gave up after 10 metres, age catching up,10 years ago I would have ploughed through.

The Kestrels are ever present as are the Common Buzzards, although only seeing one of the Buzzards, might tell a story but getting late for breeding, would have expected to have seen juveniles by now. The Buzzards have been here a good few years now, highly adaptable in carrion feeding I have watched what looks like the male feeding in a skip full of waste so obviously a very versatile species. America’s equivalent, the Red Tailed Hawk has become very urban so it maybe that Buzzards could be heading down the same road. If someone had told me 10 years ago that a pair of Common Buzzards would take up residence in the Sewage Works I would have thought not a chance.

Buzzard - highly adaptable
                                                                      Highly versatile

Beckton does hold a good number of birds and that obviously reflects in the Raptors present, as the urban sprawl comes ever further east from London and construction goes on all around it, sites like Beckton become very important for wildlife. 

Lots of other birds on show as well, Little Egrets numbers are building and Common Sandpiper numbers peaked at 12, caught up with Sandwich Tern as Common Tern numbers reached around 60 feeding mid river.

                                                                    Common Sandpipers
                                                                          Wasp Spider 
                                                                            Grey Seal
                                                               Southern Migrant Hawker

In looking for birds, I was also lucky enough to see both species of Seal on the Thames recently, Grey and Harbour Seal, the former being quite confiding, it’s a bit of a first seeing both at the same time. 

I also caught up with Southern Migrant Hawker, a first for the site and a Dragon that seems to be populating the South of England.



Saturday 1 August 2020

Cooling Marshes

July 28th

First visit for a good few months, March if I recall correctly, great to be back over here, although windy it was nice and bright and as ever the wildness of the North Kent Marshes was a breath of fresh air.

Driving out on the track produced a couple of Common Buzzards, Sand Martins moving west in good numbers with the odd Swift mixed in and several Swallows.

The undoubted highlight on the way out there was a big juvenile female peregrine mobbing 2 Foxes with low passes, at the time it was lowish light but true to form and attitude she gave both a very hard time. Photos are not great, couldn’t get a lock on her.

First Fox

2nd Fox

Bring quite warm I was also hoping to catch up with Southern Migrant Hawkers, having been seen recently at Cliffe I was hopeful. 

Luckily enough the visit also coincided with high tide, good numbers of waders were present which included the following.

Avocet – a minimum of 350
Black Tailed Godwit – 800
Curlew – 120
Grey Plover -3
Greenshank – 2
Whimbrel – 7
Oystercatcher – 54

Other than these - Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone and Green Sandpiper were also seen which made it a good wader morning.

On the raptor front 3 Marsh Harriers, same amount of Kestrels but surprisingly no Hobbies, likely August is better for them.

What I thought was a Wood Lark was also seen, flight singing as well but on photo review later turned out to be a Skylark. At the time I thought definite but shows you can be wrong quite easily, bit of a howler and a reminder to not take things for granted and look at all the features.

Dragons were present but didn’t connect with Southern’s but plenty of Migrant Hawkers, Ruddy Darters were everywhere, most though were sheltering from the wind. 

A few Wall Browns were also showing, always good to catch up with these. 

Great to be back, hopefully another visit in August.