Friday, 31 May 2013

South Essex Marshes

Viewing from the main hide at Wat Tyler Country Park, some of the Avocet pairs now have chicks. A pair of Oystercatcher and two pairs of Common Tern appear to be sitting. A Reed Warbler showed well singing in front of the hide, and a female Pochard gave close views.
Reed Warbler

female Pochard

four Common Terns in the foreground

Moved on to Bowers Marsh, where the elusive drake Garganey was snoozing distantly on square field.

snoozing Garganey with drake Shoveler and two Avocets

Still sleeping!
Found a Ruby Tiger Phragmatobia fuliginosa along one of the trails, unfortunately this cracking looking moth was looking the worse for wear.

Ruby Tiger Phragmatobia fuliginosa

A Skylark showed well singing from a twiggy stump in the middle of a field with seeding dandylions, never did see what it spotted flying over!


Something catches it's attention!

And appears to be flying over!

A gruesome find, left on one of the trail benches, what looks like a Lapwings severed head! Not sure who the predator was, possibly Fox?

Gruesome find!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

A Dusky Disaster

Margate Cemetery, I was there just before 7 am this morning, and although the thought hadn't even crossed my mind, I just knew as soon as I arrived. The DUSKY THRUSH has not been seen! Birders were either just roaming around or chatting in small groups, some were even sitting in their vehicles waiting for someone to find it.

Dusky Thrush, a near mythical bird for British birders with the last twitchable bird being way back in 1959. First found in the cemetery on Wednesday but not identified until Friday, with news breaking late Friday evening. I couldn't go yesterday (Saturday) when it was present and showing pretty much all day!

The cemetery is a large one with loads of fantastic mature trees and bushes and after about four hours of searching, I resorted to snapping birds on gravestones, oh hum!

Stopped in at Reculver on the way home and a female Montagu's Harrier and a Tree Pipit were little compensation, and I returned home early and despondent.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Rainham Marshes

Spent the day out on the marshes, warm and sunny for most of the day with some cloud cover late afternoon. Plenty of warblers singing all around the reserve, the interesting waders seen during the last couple of days, had moved on, probably triggered by the improved weather. Three Whimbrel at the end of the day over high tide in Aveley Bay were the exception. Highlights of the day were five Hobbies feeding together over Wennington Marsh, a fly through Common Buzzard and a drake Garganey distantly from the northern boardwalk. Other species seen included one each of Marsh Harrier, Kingfisher, Common Lizard and four Water Voles.

Had my first attempts at phonescoping, out of many taken these two were just about usable, hopefully more practice will see improvements. I used an iPhone 4s, Swarovski 80 HD scope with a 2-50x lens and a Kowa adapter which fits nicely.

distant Garganey phonescoped
Whimbrel in Aveley Bay, phonescoped

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Oh, Please Turn Around!

Had a walk around Bowers Marsh, this RSPB nature reserve is due to open later this year. The weather started fine, if a little breezy but at least the sun was out. It finished overcast, with a brisk wind and rain....I love summer!

Good numbers of singing Corn Bunting, Skylark, Whitethroat and especially Reed Warbler. While Swifts and Swallows fed overhead, later as the weather worsened many of the Swifts, were feeding below head height and pretty close...brilliant!

On the freshmarsh were two Greensank and a Redshank, while six Avocet were on the saline lagoon.

The Corn Buntings were singing their 'jangly car-key' song while perched on a fence or bush top. But would they turn around for a picture....would they heck!

Corn Bunting

Corn Bunting

And then a Stonechat almost did the same! He was quite distant, the images below are heavily cropped.



 There were one or two gulls present, below is just a part of the actual numbers present.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Early morning visit to The Chase

Yesterday morning an early visit to Dagenham Chase, a male Kestrel was perched close to the path and I managed to grab my camera and take one shot before it flew.

Kestrel - I think he is watching me!
Moved on to look over the slack, where the Lapwings had recently hatched chicks, one pair had four, while a second pair had just the one. They will take 35-40 days to fledge, so the parents have a busy few weeks ahead chasing off any threats to their offspring.

Do you know the collective noun for a group of Lapwings?

Also on the slack were two Common Terns, which appeared to be checking out one of the small islands, so fingers crossed. Numbers of Swift has increased over the last week and Reed Warbler numbers too, the reeds were alive with birdsong.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Dungeness & Stodmarsh

On Thursday an early start and Outtenabout and I hit Kent. Dungeness power station outfall 'The Patch' was busy with feeding gulls and Common Terns. Probably around a hundred Common Terns, with double figures of Sandwich and two Little Terns and a single Black Tern flew past. Other birds moving were a group of Common Scoter, a couple of Red-throated Divers and best of all four Arctic Skua, 3 were dark phase birds, but the last and closest was a stunning pale phase which provided a great end to our seawatching. It was a cracking day for cetaceans, with Harbour Porpoise continually on show, so difficult to judge how many, must have been at least 20, although if someone said they counted fifty, I wouldn't be surprised, awesome!

On the power station we found a pair of Black Redstart, the male regularly singing his short squeaky song. While a pair of Raven were high up on the buildings.

Ravens on the power station

The weather, was overcast with a cool north westerly and some drizzle. This never improved until we left south-east Kent early afternoon. While the rest of the country enjoyed warm sunshine, we were oblivious to that fact and caught in Dungeness's own micro-climate! We moved to the RSPB's reserve arriving just before 9 am. Lots of Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats and it appeared good for Linnets (in joke sorry!). Water levels were high and all bodies of water were pretty quite. We had a Bittern booming but surprisingly no Marsh Harrier sightings. Common Terns were using the well made tern rafts. A single Tree Sparrow near the visitor centre was a highlight as was the hot chocolate inside the centre.

Common Tern

Common Tern

Arrived at Stodmarsh early afternoon in warm bright sunshine, lovely. Pulling into the car park a Nightingale sang to welcome us. walking on to the reserve we soon found two Hobbies hunting overhead. Other birds of prey included two Common Buzzard, at least seven Marsh Harrier and both Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. Three Garden Warblers singing along with lots of Blackcaps allowed us a superb opportunity to compare their similar songs. A Cuckoo was heard and soon seen. A fantastic reserve and well worth visiting.

Blackcap male

Grey Heron at Dagenham Chase