Sunday 23 March 2014

Wheatear's arrive in numbers

Having been busy working all weekend I was keen to pop out for an hour or so to hopefully catch with a early migrant or two.  Having given barking bay a swerve of late due to the transformation of the site (down to development) I decided to give it a crack.

This proved a good decision as I quickly stumbled on a cracking male Wheatear (my first for the spring), then scanning I picked up another Five!

Moving on through the site I find another group of four - again all males!

Not to be out done as I approach the now grassy mound, there was no fewer than 11 males and a single female! Total 22! Amazing spring count and certainly the sort of numbers you would associate in an autumn fall.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Last Kent Winter Survey

Yes, it was the last winter survey last Sunday for Me and Mo along the Hoo peninsular, and it couldn't have been any better weather wise - and even the birds performed well.

With late spring like weather we almost forgot it was still mid March, and all that was missing was the rush of Migrants that everyone expects as soon as there is some unseasonal warm temperatures.  We thought we would be tripping over Wheatears and struggling to count the hirundines flying through overhead!!  Only to face facts that yeah... its not quite happening yet.

Anyway it was still nice to see all the regular species around, Skylarks in full song, Lapwing displaying all over, the Golden Plover flock wheeling around looking eager to make there way north.

Bearded Tits pinging from the reedbeds, Cetti's bursting in song, and Marsh Harriers high up enjoying the thermals.

Avocets were starting to pair up and deserting the nearby Essex wintering stronghold, but last weeks Hen Harrier was still around causing havoc with the local mipits proving that winter is not quite over yet.

Sunday 16 March 2014

Common Scoter, Cliffe Pools, 16/03/14

A pre survey visit to Cliffe RSPB today produced two fine drake Common Scoter which showed down to twenty feet after Mo picks them out from the middle of the radar pools.

Not very often you find this species so confinding, but these two birds just kept swimming towards us. Just right time right place I guess......

Saturday 15 March 2014


Ok if your not familiar with the word Gripped, basically in birding terms it means you have seen a bird your fellow patch workers or twitchers haven't!!

So yesterday and today local birders Vince and Steve et al are just that.  With the former being at work and the later away in Norfolk somewhere, I poached their patch (though I may add this as one of my old stomping grounds, and have seen many a good bird here, inc Great Snipe and Pine Bunting being the most famous).  I rocked up yesterday and added Redshank - something of an inland rarity on site, and only for Vince to dip later that evening.

yesterday's mega shank

Today I must of trod in shit again (as one normally does here!), whilst dragging my five year old son around for a late afternoon amble.  I pic up two distant raptors that turn out to be RED KITE'S!!!!  After alerting Blowmonkey, who ticks them from his window as they drifted from Romford flying south west, one done the decent thing and flew right over the top of me.

I feel a few more Dagenham Chase visits are in order.....

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Scotland Con't

Some more pics from last weeks fabulous Scotland trip that saw us catch up with all four Grouse species, several Golden Eagles and one of my favourites the Crested Tit.

The long staying American Coot stayed for us at loch flemington and was my first since the Stodmarsh bird back in ''96

This moorhen was rather more obliging :-)

Monday 10 March 2014

Hoo Harrier

Three Red-Crested Pochard were still present yesterday morning on the Stillwell lake, Ingrebourne Valley. Thanks to Les Harrison, Myself and Mo enjoyed these birds for half hour at dawn before heading off to our Kent survey site along the Hoo peninsular.

With Amazing warm weather for yesterday's survey there was plenty of Skylark and Lapwing action, with the latter in full display all over the site, which were a joy to watch.

Other wader and duck numbers were down having probably being spured on to move north with the recent mild weather.

Highlight of the day for me was this fine ringtail HEN HARRIER that I flushed from a ditch just yards away! Unfortunately the bird was always going away from me - hence the pics.....

Sunday 9 March 2014

Pitsea Catch 8/3/14

Finally some good weather see's me out with the NTGG (north thames gull group), for what is only the second attempt this year, due to the site being a real safety issue with the recent wet conditions.

With the cannon net set and our rubbish delivered it was just a waiting game.  Fortunately the birds were hungry.  An albino Greater black back caused a stir early on, but this bird sporting a Norwegian ring has been knocking around now since December and has had many people in a flap at first site!

Then soon after I pick out the 1w Iceland that again has been seen from at least the new year.  Both these birds flew over the catch area taking no interest in our bait!  Maybe next time........

We managed three catches in total

Catch 1:
41 Black-headed including one control and one retrap, all were colour ringed.
2 Herring Gull.

Catch 2:
113 Black-headed one control and 2 retraps, 66 were colour ringed.
2 Greater Black backed
45 Herring

Catch 3:
74 Black-headed
1 Mediterranean
1 Greater Black backed
84 Herring

Nice to catch this Med Gull almost coming into full breeding plumage, two or three other adult birds alongside a first winter were also seen around the tip area.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

More from the Mountain

A few more pics from Saturday's adventure up the Cairngorms, including a very approachable Mountain hare (of course with some expert fieldcraft), a Red Grouse which are abundant and Snow Buntings that can be found around the carpark.

Mo, Me, Monkey, Shaunboy.

Monday 3 March 2014

Ptarmigan Tour

Just Back from a great weekends birding with Mo, Shaunboy and the Blowmonkey.   Our main target species was Ptarmigan, which two of the group needed having blanked on previous visits.

To help with breaking the duck (or grouse), we hired a Ptarmigan specialist, in the shape of a Mr Marcus Conway (aka  A specialist highland tour leader, with much experience of the Cairngorms Mountain range.  This proved to be very successful and his knowledge of the area was second to none.

After leading us safely up the mountain (before a brief safety induction), his experience and fieldcraft worked a treat, in the four of us all obtaining amazing views and photographic opportunities of this cracking and tricky species to catch up with.

I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.