Wednesday, 3 September 2014

What A Day!

I had decided a couple of days ago that Sunday I would spend some time birding at Dagenham Chase. I hadn't checked the weather forecast the night before, as I normally do along with the high tide times. Even if I had I probably wouldn't have thought 'this looks good for migrants!'. Even on arrival, I bumped into Steve D in the beehive car park and he told me he had just had a Wheatear on the Traveller's Field. Walking back together Steve showed me where he had seen it, and sure enough it was still there, feeding along one of the mown footpaths through the field. Even, as we stood watching the Wheatear, we had no idea what today had is store for us!
Wheatear on Travellers Field
Steve headed back to his car to collect his scope, and we agreed to meet up at The Slack, as there were 8 Black-tailed Godwits there. It took me a while to get to the Slack, as the scrub area on Travellers was busy with birds, most were Blackcaps with a few Robins and Whitethroats, but more than I would usually see here, still it hadn't twigged!

On arrival at the Slack, the new fence is brilliant by the way!, looking over the area from the south side I picked up a Whinchat in the scrub within the fenced area, it was being harassed by at least two Robins and working it's way east. More blackcaps and a Lesser Whitethroat in the same area and a second Wheatear hopped in to view. Now the penny was beginning to drop! I reached in to my pocket for my phone to call Steve, when it started ringing, it was Steve and he had a female Pied Flycatcher in the SE corner of the Slack. By the time I got there, which wasn't long, it had disappeared and sadly would not be seen again!

After fruitless searching, I decided to move around behind this area of scrub and work my way along the River Rom. With the sun shining on this area of scrub, I soon picked up a flycatcher, eventually it sat in view a smart Spotted Flycatcher, brilliant, I phoned Vince who was now on site and as we spoke and I tried to explain exactly where I was, I'm useless at giving directions! it was joined by a second Spotted Flycatcher and I could now see Vince walking towards me. My third Wheatear of the morning had landed on top of the tallest tree nearby and stayed there for around 20 minutes, as we watched the flycatchers.

Spotted Flycatcher
Vince headed off to check the scrub area on Crowfoot Marsh, I stayed a little longer with the flycatchers and noted more Blackcaps and another Lesser Whitethroat. Heading towards The Slack bench the hawthorn and gorse scrub held good numbers of Blackcaps, a few Whitethroat, two more Lesser Whitethroats and a roving tit flock. I'd just sat down, when Vince called to say the scrub on Crowfoot was busy with birds, he had another two Spotted Flycatchers and would be spending some time there searching. I decided to join him, it was indeed busy, I could here the 'whet whet' calls of Chiffchaffs all around me, another Lesser Whitethroat and a Spotted Flycatcher were soon seen. Vince called me he had a Redstart, cor what a day! After some patient waiting it showed itself, a female/imm type, and as they often do it was continually dropping to the ground briefly catching insects before returning to the low scrub.

Redstart on Crowsfoot Marsh

Redstart on Crowsfoot Marsh
Eventually I dragged myself away from the Redstart and headed towards the Black Poplars, while Vince went to Check out the old allotment site. I found another Spotted Flycatcher in the Black Poplars, but Vince had three Spotflys and a Redstart in the old allotments, this I had to see.

Redstart in the old allotments


Spotted Flycatcher one of three in the old allotments



It was now 6 pm and I'd had a great 9 hours birding and it finished with two Whinchats together on top of the largest bramble club in the Travellers Field.

On site today, between myself, Vince and Steve we had counted 12+ Spotted Flycatchers (we never did cover the whole site completely), 1 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Redstarts, 3 Whinchat, 3 Wheatear, 10+ Lesser Whitethroat, 18 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers, Whitethroats and a shed load of Blackcaps!

Whinchat on Travellers Field