Monday, 31 March 2014

Rainham Marshes

Spent a few hours at Rainham Marshes today, had a good relaxing walk around the reserve. Noticed this Grey Heron eating a Frog, I think it is probably a Marsh Frog. The heron managed to manipulate it into position before swallowing it whole, head first.

 Don't Mute Swans build large nests!

 I love Little Grebes, cracking little birds and I spent sometime watching one catching sticklebacks.

 Male Reed Bunting pulling apart reedmace,

Just found these two images of the Jack Snipe on my phone. I'd forgotten I'd taken them! The bird was distant and these were taken by holding my phone to the scope. I know they really are rubbish shots, but you can just about see what it is!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Lackford Lakes, Suffolk

Yesterday I went with Havering Local RSPB Group on a coach trip to Lackford Lakes. It was a great trip with good company, brilliant wildlife, superb weather to an excellent Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve. If you fancy coming along on the next coach trip which is on Saturday 26th April to Rye Harbour NR, East Sussex, you can find out more HERE I can fully recommend it.

The reserve is 121 hectares of wetland, woodland, scrub and sandy heath. As well as a visitor centre there are eight hides. I had visited once before, back in 1992 to see a Caspian Tern, there were no visitor facilities back then.

A Snipe showed well in front of two sleeping Teal, four more Snipe were seen later.

A Treecreeper showed well in the woodland as did a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Chiffchaffs were singing around much of the reserve as was a single Blackcap in the woodland area.

A Grey Heron touched down briefly in front of one of the hides. Plenty of the commoner wildfowl were present as was a group of seven Goldeneye, the males at times displaying to the females.

The star bird for me was a Little Egret, which showed extremely well in front of the two-tiered hide, I lost count of the number of sticklebacks which it expertly caught and ate.

At least five Common Buzzards were seen, but always distant, while a Red Kite flew over at the end of the day. Over fifty bird species seen, including Bullfinch, five butterfly species included three different Brimstones and a Slow Worm was seen crossing one of the nature trails. A really enjoyable day.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Great White Egret

Managed eventually, in the pouring rain to catch-up with the Great White Egret at RSPB Rainham Marshes today. First seen this morning on the winter pool before 9am, It apparently never stayed in one place for very long, and was senn on Aveley and Wennington Marsh. I watch first from the serin mound with out any luck, before hearing it was back on Wennington Marsh. By the time I arrived at the visitor centre, the weather had turned with persistent rain. The egret was didtant, but gave good scope views. Below are a couple of rubbish record shots taken with my phone through the scope. Hopefully it will stick around and show closer in better weather!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Dagenham Chase

Spent a few hours at The Chase today, lots of Chiffhaffs singing and 1 Blackcap was my first this year. Lapwings having begun chasing the corvids if they get too close, a sure sign spring is beginning.

The two Egyptian Geese are still present, apparently they had an early gosling about a month ago, but no sign of it today!

A distant Mistle Thrush heavily cropped

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Made my first visit to Shut Heath Wood this morning. Arrived just after 7 am, two Siskins were feeding near the entrance, both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker were soon heard as was a Tawny Owl. All three were also seen during my visit. After one sweep of the wood I decided to have a rest on the bench, almost immediately a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker called. The Lesser Spot showed well a female, feeding in the trees near the bench. Unfortunately it was never really close enough to photograph well, the image below is heavily cropped.

 Moving on to Abberton Reservoir soon after 9 am, I spent the first hour searching for the Firecrest, again with no luck. Back in the car park, both Meadow Pipits and Skylarks showed well. In hide bay two Black-necked Grebes showed well through the telescope, both were showing some signs of breeding plumage.

Meadow Pipit


From Layer Breton causeway a coot showed well, while two Marsh Harriers and a Peregrine were seen distantly.

On the way home a number of Red-legged Partridges showed well in the village of Birch.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Playing with layers

I'm slowly working through some video tutorials for photoshop elements. Just got to layers, adjusting hue/saturation, brightness/contrast and then use the gradient map to create a black & white image!

Thought I would have a go with a couple of Spoonbill images, not much difference really in the first one. So, I tried one with more background in it, although the black & white one is cropped slightly, I quite like it. Still a lot more learning to do though!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Spoonbill in South Essex

Managed to connect with the Spoonbill in Wat Tyler Country Park this morning. Viewing from the marina, the Spoonbill flew in around 09.20, I had seen it earlier in flight briefly just after 8am, when it landed out of view on RSPB Vange Wick. In the marina it showed well for around 20 minutes before having a fly around the park before returning. It then fed further along the creek towards Vange Marsh.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Dagenham Chase

Spent a few hours at Dagenham Chase this afternoon, fabulous spring like weather, but sadly no early spring migrants were seen, although I did manage to catch up with the ring-necked parakeets and saw a distant buzzard circling.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Rainham Marshes

Spent the morning at Rainham Marshes. Started off walking the seawall as I was there before the reserve opens. I walked to the serin mound and back. I found an area which a number of pipits were favouring along with two Skylarks. Most of the dozen or so pipits were Meadow, with at least two Rock Pipits, no Water Pipit though. Tricky to photograph as they were regularly spooked by the passing walkers, cyclists and dog walkers. The two Skylarks were less jumpy and I managed a couple of images.

Walking around the reserve, the sun would occasionally appear and there was only a light breeze albeit a chilly one! Lots of water had the reserve looking superb, with still plenty of wildfowl present. Along the northern boardwalk a single female Bearded Tit was 'pinging' away and regularly flying above the reeds, at times quite a distance above the reeds, before dropping back in. She was moving through the reeds quite widely, but regularly showed well in the reed tops, not particularly close to the boardwalk though. Reed Buntings, Cetti's Warblers and Water Rails were all seen while I spent an hour or so hoping to get a photograph.

She would every now and then appear close enough to the boardwalk for a picture, but frustratingly I wasn't getting a clear image through the reeds. She did show well though and I was having brilliant views of my first Bearded Tit at Rainham, in fact she was the first I have seen in the London area, am I a  lightweight, or what! 
Anyway, it happened there she was and I had a clear view, I fired off two shots, well three actually, but she wasn't in the third one! All in all a great morning.