Tuesday, 31 October 2017

RSPB Titchwell Marsh

On Saturday I traveled with members of Havering RSPB Local Members group to Titchwell on the north Norfolk coast. We left Romford at 7.30am and after a few unexpected diversions we arrived at the reserve around 11am. The weather was looking good with some blue sky and sunshine as we headed through the reserve towards the beach.

Brent Geese

There were good numbers of Brent Geese around mainly of the dark-bellied form and around twenty species of wading birds some showing very well. It was great to get the chance to compare Bar and Black-tailed Godwits close up.


Bar-tailed Godwit 
Black-tailed Godwit

Riding the waves 

Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit 
Bar-tailed Godwit

It was a great day with lots to see and among good company. The next trip is to Pulborough Brooks another RSPB reserve this time in Sussex.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Rainham - A Circular Walk

Wandered clockwise around the reserve today, if I am honest it was pretty quiet with most of the bird action out on the Target Pools. There were at least three Marsh Harriers showing well from the Butts Hide and at least six Ruff with one Little Stint, the stint was first seen inflight when a grey heron flushed it along with the ruffs and lapwings. They all settled back down and the stint showed briefly before disappearing behind vegetation.

Just beyond the woodland it was great to find a Wasp Spider with her large egg case! also good to see both Migrant and Common Darters still on the wing.
Marsh Harrier over Targets and taken from the Butts Hide

Little Egret sees off a Coot

Wasp Spider and her egg case

Common Darter

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Red-necked Grebe

Managed to get myself across to Buckhurst Hill in the Roding Valley late morning today. Where on a small lake a juvenile Red-necked Grebe has been showing well for the last few days. It was still there and what a cracking bird in a plumage I have never seen before.

Monday, 18 September 2017

A Spotted Crake in the Ingrebourne Valley

Found by Rainham's Site Manager Andrew on Saturday morning this Spotted Crake has been showing at times very well from the main viewing area at Hornchurch Country Park in the Ingrebourne Valley. I managed a short visit Saturday afternoon and got some brief but good views. It has it's favoured feeding area right in front of the viewing area but does disappear for periods of time and often when it shows it is obscured by the vegetation. But it will also spend short periods feeding in the open shallow water when it shows exceptionally well, as it did this morning.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Black Tern at Rainham

Yesterday I finally managed to get on to the reserve and have a look at the juvenile Black Tern, it has been present since Tuesday when it was found by Dave Morrison, so it only took me four days to get there! A passage species passing through they are normally encountered on the river, so actually having one on the reserve and favouring Aveley pools was quite a treat.
Black Tern
I struggled trying to photograph this bird, the light was good, possibly too good bright sunshine, the auto focus on my Nikon D7200 was trying to focus on everything but the bird, so I switched to manual focus which was still pretty tricky as the tern dipped, twisted and stalled in flight as it was plucking food from the water's surface. Anyway my best efforts are here, but the real highlight was being able to sit and watch it actively feeding.
Black Tern
It was also interesting to see how the light changed the appearance of the bird from looking quite washed out on the upperparts to a more natural browner colouration.

I liked this one with the Visitor Centre in the background!

Black Tern

Black Tern

Black Tern

Volucella zonaria   This is a hornet mimic and is one of our largest and most spectacular hoverflies.

female Migrant Hawker


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Rainham - A wander in the rain!

Friday found me again at RSPB Rainham Marshes, the day was overcast with steady drizzle from mid morning. It did brighten up as I was leaving, which was ok as the reserve was staying open until dusk for the last time this year.

It was pretty quiet for passerines, probably all keeping their heads down in the rain! The ducks didn't mind it though and their numbers seem to be increasing with more Teal and a few Wigeon, sign of things to come. I did manage a few pictures, the best of which are below.

Little Egret about to touch down




One of this year's young Little Grebes tackling a stickleback

Adult Little Grebe also with a stickleback

Grey Heron about to swallow a marsh frog, it looks as if the frog has jumped in, but in truth the heron caught it and has just manoeuvred it in to a head first position for swallowing!

Grey Heron

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

A few hours on the marsh!

To be fair it was pretty hard work to find things to photograph today. There was lots to see, the Hobbies were brilliant but always over the centre of the reserve so quite distant. Common Lizards were much more obliging and I saw over twenty today including some quite small juveniles. I almost got a good flight shot of a Migrant Hawker, but not quite!

Lots of Garden Spiders hanging around on their webs

Migrant Hawker - one day I'll get a sharp image!

A view across the reserve


Hobby taking a rest from hunting, but still eying up a passing dragonfly!


Hobby hunting extremely close to the ground

Common Lizard

Common Lizard

Little Grebe