Saturday, September 30, 2017


It was a hard slog smashing around the Spurn area but despite the lack of anything rare, it was wholly enjoyable.

On Saturday the sun came out and a long tiring walk down to the point yielded two spanking Common Redstart, a single Whinchat, two Stonechat, and a Willow Warbler.  It was scant reward for the 27,500 steps recorded on my FitBit.

A real feature of the day was the visible migration, large numbers of Linnet, Goldfinch, and Tree Sparrow pouring through the Spurn area heading down along the point.

The majority of the Yellow-browed Warbler present during the week had pretty much cleared out, but one vocal individual was present in the Crown and Anchor car park along with a female Pied Flycatcher.

That was pretty much it for highlights, hardly an Octoberfest here, but a relaxing day anyway.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Rainham Marshes / Roding Valley - Red-necked Grebe

A lot of variety today at Rainham Marshes under warm blue sky.  The south-easterly winds made for a really pleasant day.  An 11.5km walk started from the car park by the Stone Barges, winding through the reserve, over the old landfill and back along the river.

Four Ringed Plover, five Black-tailed Godwit, and a Curlew had settled on the mud near Aveley Bay.  Six Wigeon flew from the river onto the reserve.

The warm breeze held raptors, a sub-adult Marsh Harrier flew hurriedly through the reserve, with at least six Common Buzzard airbourne towards Wennington.  A Sparrowhawk flew high up over Woodland, and a Hobby darted past Aveley Pools.

On the Target Pools, the Little Stint was still present as were two Ruff and a Common Snipe.

Two Stonechat, and a Whinchat were perched up along the fenceline close to the turning gate on the south side.  A further two Stonechat were seen on Wennington.

The Barn Owl was at home and roosting peacefully.

Other bits and pieces - a Grey Seal was seen briefly on the river.  Butterflies were on the wing, with Red Admiral, Peacock, and a late Meadow Brown making the most of the warm conditions.  A Common Lizard scurried into the undergrowth by the Coldharbour Lane car park, and there were plenty of Migrant Hawker zipping around the reserve.

Onto the Roding Valley Meadow Reserve, where the juvenile Red-necked Grebe continued to show well close to shore on the south side.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Ingrebourne Valley - Spotted Crake

A dash over to see the Spotted Crake at the Ingrebourne Valley early doors before heading to Rainham for the Wildlife Explorers group.

The juvenile bird showed straight away in front of the viewpoint in the presence of around twenty other congregated birders.

This was my first visit to this site, and it really does look great.  There was plenty going on with at least 21 Common Snipe counted feeding along the muddy fringes in the company of three vocal Green Sandpiper.

There were small pulses of Barn Swallow and House Martin moving through, and common warblers in the form of Chiffchaff and Blackcap were present in the scrub.

A Kingfisher dashed low across the scrape, and a Grey Wagtail flew high over.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Tyttenhanger GPs - White-winged Tern

This beauty is my bird of the year so far.  It was an absolute cracker and a real joy to watch as it fed on the far end of Willow Farm Lake this morning.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Minsmere RSPB

So today, Craig and I headed up to Minsmere.  We had a relatively late start as working in the Consultancy industry requires us to indulge in a few after work beverages - particularly appealing when they are free.

The drive up was pretty tardy too eventually arriving at midday.  This is when the fun started.  The first winter Citrine Wagtail had been reported late morning, so we headed straight to a packed North Hide, scopes pointing out onto an expanse of marshiness.  There were plenty of Wagtails of all ages, and sadly, and we were getting sucked into claiming the rare Wagtail. The majority of us were unconvinced of its presence, but the news went out.  We scampered from one hide to the next as more reports were submitted - and we checked more Wagtails.  If it was still present, we didn't connect with it.  And so, we left unconvinced that the reports were genuine, but maybe a lucky few did manage to see it.

Bird of the day however went to the Red-necked Phalarope, only my 2nd ever, and such a lovely wader, characterised by its ceaseless frenzied feeding habits, looking almost mechanical and maniacal as if it put through a time-lapsed production.  It remained into the early part of the evening favouring the west side of the East Scrape.

A close second was the Eurasian Bittern that flew low over South Hide while we cowered from the rain watching waders out on the scrape.  For such a secretive bird, this was a real treat.  It even looked graceful in flight before inelegantly plonking itself down in the reeds.

What could have been a highlight was an Otter that swam from one of the islands into the reeds.  However, this was only evidenced by the wake with the mammal neatly submerged underwater.

There were plenty of waders around, two Spotted Redshank, two Green Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, a few Ruff, a dozen Common Snipe, Dunlin, and plenty of Black-tailed Godwit and Avocet.

A Water Rail was seen lurking toward the back of the East Scrape, and a strange sight of a Mandarin roosted on one of the islands.  A young male Marsh Harrier flew through.

Two 1st year Mediterranean Gull flew over the beach, where a scruffy Stonechat sat high on the gorse.  Late in the evening, Hobby was seen hunting low over the reeds.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Buff birding

An eventful weekend.  The plan was to head to Scilly for the day.  Silly indeed.  A spontaneous trip planned for an early departure from Newquay with, by association, an even earlier start from London.  The drive was quick, I mean, four hours to Newquay Airport.  That's the catch with drives to Cornwall.  Do them at night when everyone is in the pub or in bed.

I was knackered already, waiting to board the flight.  But the announcement came.  Flight cancelled.  Aircraft had gone 'tech' (as they call it the industry).

Full refund received and off I went.  Back in the car and no plan.  One thing was certain.  I had a hotel room booked in Newquay.

So obviously I headed down to Porthgwarra.  Made sense as it was only an hour and twenty minutes away.  Cornwall tapers, and my goodness it tapers with mileage.

It was breezy, the sun came and went.  As did the rain.  Horizontal at times.

But it was sunny when I arrived and that made me happy.  A few flowers were still in bloom, smiling at the sunshine.  Small Copper were busy.  Flirting recklessly with the flora.

There were Red Admiral, Peacock, and Small Tortoiseshell too.

I went to watch the sea,  Well not the sea per se, but seabirds flying over the sea.  And just about.  Barely skimming the tumult, waves bowing down to the cliffs that stood imperious before them.

Gannet poured through, some in singles, and often seen in groups.  Feeding parties.  Neatly folded arrows piercing the sea at speed.  The sight.  The spectacle.  Astounding.  The sun continued to shine.  Parties of Manx Shearwater flowed through, the gate lifted to the open seas.  Hundreds of them.  There were Kittiwake, Guillemot, and Shag too.  Nothing rarer.  I worked hard for it for a few hours.

I ate some cake, and drank some tea.  I had a sleep.  Then a second visit up to the cliffs.  A wader battled the wind as it flew past me.  Bins were up.  Mind working overtime.  It looked like a Buff-breasted Sandpiper.  The bird burned into a brilliant background as it disappeared over a small ridge.  Within moments, it was picked up again.  A rare bird and wholly unexpected.

The next day, far less eventful.  But it rained, and the wind blew with rage.  I got an all day full english soaking.  Soaking number one, seawatching at Trevose Point, with more Manxies and Gannet, a couple of Sandwich Tern and Kittiwake.  There were waders here too.  Fifteen Bar-tailed Godwit, with a Ruff in tow, Oystercatcher, Curlew, and Turnstone.

Soaking number two.  A drive to sodden Chipping Sodbury for a soddin Shrike that I got drowned for.  This soaking was epic.  But the juvenile Woodchat Shrike showed after the storm, and so did a tidy male Common Redstart.  At least three hardy Whinchat were present, and a Common Whitethroat probably wished it had left early..

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Rainham Marshes

A really successful day at Rainham notably due to my first ever London Osprey, that has been a pig to catch up with and evidently not enough time spent staring up into the sky at the appropriate moments.

Also on site were three Hobby demonstrating their aerial proficiency, masters of agility and speed, adults passing on knowledge and skill to the youngsters.  Just great to watch.

On Aveley Bay, 30 Black-tailed Godwit were present on the shoreline as were three Avocet and a single Curlew.  Two Spotted Redshank were present on the Target Pools.

A juvenile Willow Warbler was seen in the Woodland zone, this Wasp Spider stood out in the Cordite, a Grey Seal was seen on the Thames, and five Migrant Hawker zipped around the reeds by Aveley Pools.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Oare Marshes

Oare Marshes again.  Can't keep away from the place.  It was once again ripe with waders.  Pride of place went to my second Long-billed Dowitcher that was seen while roosting within the large group of waders.  A juvenile Curlew Sandpiper flew into the foreground and scampered around a small island.  Smart little birds.

Wader numbers had really built up now with crude estimates of 500+ Golden Plover, 300+ Black-tailed Godwit, and 80+ Dunlin, were present along with 15 Ruff, 30+ Ringed Plover, a single Greenshank, and a juvenile Little Ringed Plover.

In addition, five Yellow Wagtail flew over and the regular Bearded Tit were active in the reeds.

On the swale, terns were on the move with the highlight of two Black Tern accompanied by six Sandwich Tern, and a dozen Common Tern.  Around 15 Swallow looked as they would be around for a little while longer.