Saturday, April 22, 2017

Rainham Marshes RSPB

It was a stellar day at the Marshes, the highlight being our monthly Wildlife Explorers group in which we welcomed fifteen children all of which enjoyed dissecting owl pellets and getting their grubby mits covered with mammalian detritus.  It was all good fun.

Arriving a couple of hours before the start of the group, it was evident that there were plenty of migrants around in gloomy and mizzly conditions.  It felt rare!  Around a dozen Common Whitethroat were scratching away in the scrub opposite Aveley Bay and on the receded tide, a total of seven Whimbrel were noted, six of which deserted the exposed mud in hot pursuit of a lone Greenshank that too noisely fled the area.  Also in attendance were four Dunlin (including three summer plumaged adults) and a smart Grey Plover not quite yet into its summer finery, and three noisy Oystercatcher.

From the car park, a Corn Bunting jangled as it sat low in the grass on the eastern slope of the landfill.  Two Grasshopper Warbler were reeling intermittently adding to the symphony of bird song of which Sedge Warbler too were particularly evident.

The old Landfill also held, at least eight Northern Wheatear with the possibility for many more there.

On the reserve, a rattling Lesser Whitethroat showed well in the Woodland, and two Ruff were skulking along the margins of Wennington.

It warmed up in the afternoon, and despite missing a fly-through Red Kite, there were a couple of Marsh Harrier, three Buzzard, and two Peregrine enjoying the thermals.

A couple of Water Vole were seen around the reserve and a first Orange-Tip was on the wing along with Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, and Peacock.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Stockers Lake

No hoped for migrants but a couple of smart Red-Crested Pochard were the highlight along with a strange rainbow effect against a predominantly clear sky.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Poland - Skiing in Zakopane

Just a couple of days in the southern Polish town of Zakopane on the foothills of the Tatra mountains close to the Slovakian borders.

The skiing itself was amusing and encouraging.  Despite a few butt-first slammers into the snow, the slopes were kind to me, and I managed some decent runs before indulging into a few apres-ski vodka shots.  When in Poland.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A trip up north - Pacific Diver

Utterly frazzled by long days at work, sixteen on one horrendous day when the pressures weighed heavy on my shoulders, the demands of sadistic clients demanding delivery of work that were likely to be disregarded anyway.

I'd had enough and spontaneously headed north late Friday morning.  We ended up in York for the evening, relaxing in this beautiful city under the grandeur of the Minster and the quaint cobbled streets.

The next morning was a stab at the Pine Bunting.  Present for a long stint in the village of Dunnington, the bird was seen early morning.  Arriving at around 1030 after a tardy morning start, the scope was set up as resident gregarious flocks of Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer flew nervously around the paddocks.  There was no sign.  A male Bullfinch brightened up the short vigil under leaden skies but by 12 I had given up and the bird wasn't seen since.

We continued north and arrived in Amble early afternoon.  It was throwing it down, but clad in my waterproofs, I headed over to East Chevington where the Pacific Diver was still present on the north pool.  There was no one around.  The place had an eerie feel, the silence punctuated by distant sounds of wildfowl and the belligerent rain as it bounced off the metal hide,  After a brief rest, the Diver become a bit more active swimming to the far end of the pool before heading back across my eye-line.  Darkness began to creep in, but the light was still sufficient to observe at least six Scaup there including two drakes, a pair of Red-Breasted Merganser, and at least 25 Goldeneye,

The next day, we visited Saltholme RSPB for early migrants but none were forthcoming so continued onto Skinningrove for my second Eastern Black Redstart of the year which showed down to a few metres,  The singing Dunnock there was evidence the our common birds shouldn't be overlooked.

Just a couple of recommedations;

The Bridges B&B in Broomhill is just fabulous, the owners are so friendly and the rooms extremely comfortable and well designed.

The Old Boathouse at Amble offers a great seafood menu overlooking the estuary.