Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Abberton Reservoir

A glorious almost spring like day so I headed off to Abberton Reservoir. From the Layer Breton causeway, while waiting for the Bittern to show it's self, it never did at least not for me today. Three White-fronted Geese flew in and landed west of the causeway, managed to grab a couple of rubbish record shots'

At the other end of the causeway a pair of Great Crested Grebes were also getting the spring feeling and almost beginning their mirroring courtship display. There was also a Goosander & Red-Breasted Merganser both too distant to photograph.

Spent a couple of hours along the old access road, hoping to bump in to yesterdays Firecrest, sadly it eluded me. Bullfinch showed well briefly, Long-tailed Tits were almost ever present, a Buzzard soared over and a Chiffchaff was warming up his 'Chiff Chaff' song, but remained in the uppermost branches.

Managed a quick shot of a Red-legged Partridge through the car window on the way home.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Orsett Fen

Spent a few hours walking around Orsett Fen, it was a beautiful clear bright morning and 14°C. My first visit here, the land is mainly arable with some scattered copse, a few small waterways although a couple were barely flowing and a medium sized reservoir, which held a single Coot & 3 Mallards!

There were good numbers of Red-legged Partridge but I couldn't find any of the hoped for Grey Partridge. Chaffinches and Greenfinches were singing well, along with Dunnock and Robin. I could also hear a distant Song Thrush. Failed to find any Yellowhammers, infact I never saw or heard a single bunting! Skylarks were good value, but the stars of the morning had to be the Common Buzzards. The most together in one group was four, but with four other single birds seen and a pair mating in a distant tree! I had to be in double figures for the morning. They were always just too far away for a decent photograph, the one below is heavily cropped. All in all an enjoyable morning.

Popped into Ferry Lane, Rainham on my way home, and the female Kestrel is still present, although she didn't show quite so well today!

Just noticed that she may possibly have a problem with what looks like a piece of yellow plastic attached to her beak. It certainly wasn't obvious at the time or when I uploaded the original images.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Iceland Gull - Stone Barges

Spent two hours this afternoon at the stone barges, Rainham, in the hope that the 1st winter Iceland Gull may return to the boom. Just as I was about to give up......boom!......there it was!

Could only get record shots unfortunately, in windy dull conditions. The first is phonescoped Swarovski  ATS 80 HD 20-60x Zoom on full zoom & iPhone 4s. The other three are all with a Canon EOS 7d & Canon 400mm f5.6 L USM Lens. All three are very heavily cropped! 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Warley Place NR

Spent a few hours today at Warley Place Nature Reserve near Brentwood. My first very first visit here and wow, did I enjoy it.

Warley Place, once a very famous Edwardian garden belonging to Ellen Willmott, is now maintained as a nature reserve by Essex Wildlife Trust.

Although the house itself has long since gone, a walk round the paths reveals tantalising glimpses of what the estate once comprised. There are exotic trees, remains of cold frames, greenhouses, reservoirs, a terrace and the conservatory that was part of the original building. Although there is colour all year round, by far the best time to visit is in the spring, when snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, bluebells follow and overlap and vie with each other in splendour.

There are two bird hides, a bird feeding station and the display of snowdrops and crocuses is breathtaking, the birds weren't bad either!

Blue Tit

Blue Tit

Long-tailed Tit



Coal Tit



And there was a Bank Vole watching me!

Bank Vole

Monday, 17 February 2014

A Day in North-East Essex

Started at Jaywick and soon found the flock of 30+ Snow Buntings this morning, they were pretty flighty and at one point flew about 300 yards out to sea, before returning. I did manage one phonescoped image below. Thanks to Terry J, for his excellent directions.

 Leaving the cold easterly wind at Jaywick, I moved not too far away to St Osyth and the sewage works near Colne Point NR. The reserve is currently closed due to tidal damage, I found the 7 Bewick's Swans but they were quite distant from the sewage works. Spent the next hour looking for Grey Partridge to no avail, but did find a fabulous flock of 300+ Golden Plover in one of the fields, while even more flew over heading to the coast....wonderful!

Spent the afternoon walking the seawall from Holland Haven Country Park to Frinton. I was looking for the three Purple Sandpipers which have been present since at least early February. It was high tide as I arrived, the sun was shining (intermittently!) and the wind had eased....perfect!

As I walked towards Frinton, the tide was pretty much up to the seawall with nowhere for the sandpipers to roost. But has I got towards Frinton Golf Course, there were large rocks which the tide hadn't covered. I checked them all, but no luck, so I carried on walking. I could see more exposed rocks further on, and as I arrived I almost immediately picked up not three, but four Purple Sandpipers roosting just the other side of the seawall. I grabbed a couple of shots and decided to eat my lunch and hope they become more active.

Fortunately, it was such a nice afternoon, the view along the coast to the beach huts was tempting enough for a passing couple to stop and take it in. Where did they stop and talk? You've guessed it, exactly where the sandpipers were!

That was encouragement enough to set the Purple Sandpipers into feeding mode, because the tide was high they were never far from the seawall.   At times it was quite exquisite watching them dodge the occasional larger wave, they gave me a wonderful hour, before I headed back to Holland Haven.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Blast From The Past - 1989 Great Snipe

This juvenile Great Snipe showed well on a footpath beside the river Trent at Girton Gravel Pits in Nottinghamshire. It was present from 27th August until 02nd September and filled a gap in many birder's life list. In the days before digital photography, well for me at least, I had to wait until arrived home, and had the film developed, before I knew what I had got, I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with these un-cropped images.

Great Snipe - Girton - August 1989

Great Snipe - Girton - August 1989

Monday, 3 February 2014

Who's The Dandy Highwayman?

The Nuthatch that's who! I had a walk around Thorndon Country Park North this morning and saw three Nuthatches, one was near the Visitor Centre.

Also saw two Treecreepers, lots of Coal Tits and a small flock of eight Siskins, not a bad morning! Oh and the Blue Tits were showing well around the feeders as I sat and drank my coffee.

Nuthatch - Thorndon Country Park North

Nuthatch - Thorndon Country Park North

Nuthatch - Thorndon Country Park North

Blue Tit - Thorndon Country Park North

Blue Tit - Thorndon Country Park North

Sunday, 2 February 2014


A female Kestrel showed quite well neat the stone barges, Rainham this morning. Unfortunately no sign of Black Redstart or any Rock and Water Pipits. Good bright mornings walk along the river though.