Sunday 30 December 2007

Benfleet Creek

Corn Bunting
Corn Bunting

Reed BuntingGreat Black-backed GullBrent GeeseGolden Plover

Clockwise from top left: Reed Bunting, Great Black-backed Gull, Golden Plover, Brent Geese

My favourite walk is along the sea wall between Benfleet and Leigh-on-sea. With the creek and associated saltings on the south-side and grazing marsh, scrub and drainage ditches on the other it always feels like something good will show up. Today's surprises were two Corn Buntings (I've never seen them here before), an untimely Green Sandpiper, a Kingfisher patrolling the ditches and some handsome Golden Plovers.

Saturday 29 December 2007

Goosander, Hanningfield Reservoir

Me, Dad and Lou (soon to be Mrs Ramakrishna Panicker) went to practice our digiscoping at Hanningfield Reservoir in Essex. Thankfully some of our target birds were there to greet us. Four Goosander boys and five girls, tick! (Dad saw his first Goldcrests too.)

'Clarky' The Leucistic House Sparrow!

Leucistic House Sparrow
Leucistic Sparrow
I was on my way from Benfleet station to my Dad's house when I found this completely leucistic House Sparrow. It was hanging out with its mates in some scrub behind the site of the old Clarks fish bar, now the 'Fish Market' restaurant. With the shots in the can I took myself to buy a lottery ticket... and lost.

Wednesday 26 December 2007

Caspian Gull, Canvey Point?

Possible Caspian Gull
We were scanning about at the Eastern most tip of Canvey Island when Matt spotted this possible Caspian Gull. The clean, unstreaked head, dark, beedy eye and bill markings all checked out but the wingtips didn't prove as conclusive, at least the photographic evidence didn't. We were uneducated in the art of Caspian P10s before the trip but will be next time.

Canvey Point, Boxing Day

The Brutys went back to their roots on Boxing day and paid a quick trip to Canvey Island. Here's a few shots.

Canvey Island
Canvey Point, Canvey Island (Southend-on-sea background)

Grey PloverBrent GeeseOystercatchersKnot
Clockwise from top left: Grey Plover, Brent Geese, Knot, Oystercatchers

Monday 24 December 2007

Southend Pier, Christmas Eve

Common Eider
Common Eider

I found the morning to myself on Christmas Eve and went sea-watching up Southend pier. After the mile and a quarter stroll to the end I found that I had the pier to myself too apart, that is, from a few cracking birds.

Among the Turnstone sitting out the tide were the returning Purple Sandpipers, a species I have somehow missed on every previous winter visit so was mightily happy to see five in attendance. As ever the Mediterranean Gulls were showing well with five first winters, one second winter, and five adults loafing about.

My Sea-watching efforts didn't bear much fruit until I turned for home and found a very handsome (first winter) male Common Eider gleaning crabs about fifteen meters away from the gents lavvy.

Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper

Mediterranean Gull first winter
Mediterranean Gull (first winter)

DunlinCommon EiderCommon EiderPurple Sandpiper

Clockwise from top left: Dunlin, Common Eider, Purple Sandpiper

Saturday 22 December 2007

Wild Geese and Frozen Shrews

I went to Rainham Marshes today in an attempt to connect with their reported wild geese additions. Sure enough all eighty-odd Barnacle Geese were still present and two of the twelve Tundra Bean Geese also remained. Other highlights included a great big flock of Linnets mixed in with Goldfinch, Stonechats and Reed Buntings. Also, about five Rock Pipits on the foreshore and a couple of token mamals (one frozen stiff!).

Barnacle Geese
Barnacle Geese

Tundra Bean Goose
Tundra Bean Goose (trust me)


Baah!Frozen Shrew

Sheep, Frozen Shrew

Sunday 16 December 2007

Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens

I took myself to the park this morning with some kit and the aim of capturing some better quality portraits of the locals. The Tawny owl, the Mediterranean Gull and the Egyptian Geese (one up each tree) all sat beautifully.

Tawny Owl
Mediterranean Gull
Egyptian Goose

Egyptian GooseCommon GullEgyptian Goose up a treeEgyptian Goose

Wednesday 12 December 2007

Tawny Owl, Kensington Gardens

On most clear mornings, of late, you can catch a glimpse of this Tawny Owl roosting in its favourite tree in Kensington Gardens. It, and sometimes its mate, are usually within the triangle between the Round Pond, Speke's Monument and the Physical Energy Statue. (Map available here.)

Monday 10 December 2007

Dipper, Aira Force

I've just returned from a quick trip to the Lake District. The weather and daylight hours were more conducive to ale drinking than bird watching but my pal Dan and I managed a quick outing to Aira Force waterfall, Ullswater. That's where I snapped this Dipper.

The area played host to a good number of Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Tits with two or three Common Buzzard flying over head. I also had my first encounter with a Redpoll species. Six Lesser Redpolls noisily passed through to acrobatically feed on a distant birch. Photographically, this was the best I could do.

Monday 3 December 2007

Birdcam Moment

I switched the feeders around in front of Birdcam this weekend to see if any Tits where visiting the fat cakes and peanuts. I haven't seen any yet but did stumble across this meeting of starling and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
By the way, I've stopped archiving images from the birdcam now so if you see anything good please feel free to save off the image and send it to me (paul[at] Thanks!