Sunday, 30 September 2007

Rainham Marshes

I love Rainham Marshes. There weren't any particularly exciting species there today but the 'zip-a dee-doo-dah' of the place was well worth the visit. Here are some moments from today's circuit.

L-R: male Great Spotted Woodpecker, female Stonechat, 1W Lesser-black Backed Gull (corrections welcome), Marsh Frogs, Common Darter, Yellow-legged Gull.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Goldfinch, Roof

Goldfinch numbers have been noticeably stronger on the roof this year with c30 recorded during the week. Here's one of the new crop moulting into adulthood.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Stonechat, Hyde Park

Stop me if you're getting bored but patch ticks keep showing up at Hyde Park when I'm rushing to work and least prepared. This morning's bad photograph from Hyde Park, served more as proof than entertainment, is courtesy of a confiding male Stonechat. 'Confiding' deserves a better shot than this but for me this was patch gold and, as well as the wind and bad equipment, my hands were shaking with uncontrollable excitement. 'Pull yourself together man, it's just a Stonechat!'

Here's the gen' for the Hyde Park compadres: It was showing in and around the oak saplings next to the Reformers' Tree Memorial. Other goodies were two juvenile Grey Wagtails feeding in, the currently drained, Italian Fountains.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

A New Low in Wildlife Photography

It's all been happening in the Park this week and with a Kingfisher on The Longwater this morning I added another long-awaited patch tick. Obviously, the majesty of the Kingfisher hasn't quite been captured here but I can assure you it was electrifying!

Friday, 21 September 2007

Wheatear (again), Hyde Park

The Autumn migration was in full swing this morning with a noticeably higher numbers of Chiffchaff, two Spotted Flycatchers (sharing the same branch), c.15 House Martins over and presumably the same female Wheatear parading the Eastern end of Hyde Park.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Wheatear, Hyde Park

I've been scanning the Parade Ground of Hyde Park every morning for the past two weeks, on the way to work, in hope of snagging a Wheatear on its way back to Africa. It's a long overdue patch tick for me so was mightily relieved to see this female chasing flies this morning. Unfortunately, my only means of recording the event was binoculars and a mobile phone.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Caterpillar stir

Our Deaths Head Hawk Moth Caterpillar has caused quite a stir.

Here's where it's been reported.....
BBC Essex website
and soon the RSPB.

As much as we completely relished this sighting, maybe we didn't fully appreciate just how significant it was.

A fond farewell

It's a fond farewell to Satanita Road after 4 and a half years.
I hope the birds, my birds, continue to be fed and cared for.
I've lost count of the times I've ran into the garden shooing stalking cats away.
When I first put my feeders up they were inundated with Blue and Great Tits, greenfinches, sparrows and starlings with pigeons, collared doves and dunnocks picking up the spills. Because of much tree felling and heavy pruning in neighbouring gardens the greenfinches and tits have largely moved on, but I have seen my sparrow population grow and grow.
Scarcer sightings in the garden include a Song Thrush (just twice), a couple of Jays, a handful of Redwing one cold winters day and these Siskin last march. I often wonder what birds have been here before me and what will show up when I leave (even the birds when I had my back turned). I guess I'll never know.
So on to Landsdowne Avenue now, with it's mature trees. Somewhere to put all my nest boxes at last. What will show up on my new garden list? Watch this space.....

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Dartford Warbler, Berkshire

I visited a heathland nature reserve in Berkshire today for a change of scenery. In fact I've only birded heathland and bog in Australia before so was pretty excited about my first real chance at seeing a Dartford Warbler.

I raised my goggles to a lot of Stonechats (above) before one did finally show up just as I was taking myself home. It showed very briefly during a territorial dispute with a Coal Tit but, after an hour of waiting and a couple more brief encounters, it started to feed openly. It didn't stay still long enough to be photographed but I did manage this very ropey reference shot. The lighter underside and throat suggests this one was a female.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Sparrowhawk, Hudson Memorial

I was doing the usual rounds at Hyde Park this morning when I came across this male Sparrowhawk taking a bath in the Hudson Memorial fountains. He was pretty intent on getting clean and wasn't at all bothered by my presence.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Turnstone, Southend Pier

The Turnstones were back too.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Mediterranean Gulls, Southend Pier

You're almost guaranteed Mediterranean Gulls at the end of Southend Pier. There were about sixty of them up the 'longest pleasure pier in the world' this morning with all generations well represented. Here they are, first winter, second winter and adult Mediterranean Gull.

Other sightings included c.100 Turnstone, 3 Common Gull, a Sandwich Tern and, on the way back, I was surprised to see a Kingfisher flying about under the pier entrance.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Speakers' Coroner

This juvenile Starling at Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park had just been dropped by a Sparrowhawk. It came out of shock, jumped to its feet and scrapped with its attacker a couple more times before... well, see for yourself.

Thursday, 6 September 2007


Just got back from 2 and a half days on the north Norfolk coast. The trip didn't offer any rarities, but it was good to visit a couple of new places that I'll definitely be visiting on future trips.
The N.O.A bird observatory and reserve at Holme is typical of the north Norfolk coast, beatiful natural beach with dunes, turning into scrub and farm land. There is a small pine plantation there too. We saw these snipe from one of the hides looking over one of the lagoons there. When Michael opened one of the viewing flaps the hinges let off an almighty squeek causing these two birds to stop dead in this rather nice pose.
The other place that impressed me was Burnham Overy marshes (scenic photo). The walk out to the beach reminded me a lot of the walk along the sea wall at Cley. We saw some nice Grey Plover here.
Other trip highlights included a Snow Goose that flew over (although I couldn't determine whether it was an escaped or wild bird), 2 Tawny Owls calling to each other at Burnham Market (on the walk to the pub) and a noisy flock of mixed passerines in Holkham woods (included Long Tailed Tits, Coal Tits, Blue Tits, Gold Crests and even a tree creeper seemed to be involved). The noise soon stopped when a pair of Hobbys started to circle above.
Roll on the next trip.