The Dark Room

Sunday, 18 March 2018


Despite the slow start on the patch this week and making daily evening visits without finding or seeing anything new, it took till Thursday evening after work I could actually patch tick something new  in form of a pair of Red-crested Pochard on the reservoir found by Paul Hawkins. With 3 Chiffchaff on Friday in the sunshine, the patch was feeling much brighter than the previous few days.

Saturday we saw the return of the beast from the east with cold winds and snow, But this delivered Golden Plover and a Red Kite  and bird of the week was a stunning Hawfinch that flew into the small wood behind the seat on the hill to roost at 4.35pm. Our first Hawfinch for the year at the valley and only my 2nd for the site. A great bird for any patch and it or another bird was seen on Sunday morning by Dave Mo and Paul Hawkins. So with Hawfinch being my 90th for the year the good form continues here at the Ingrebourne Valley.

Trying to juggle birding and photography has been difficult on the patch as I'm keen to find new birds for the year list and keep ahead of the chasing pack ;)

Dunnock displaying near the viewing area on Friday in the sunshine.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Walking in a Winter Waderland

Made a early start this morning on the patch and  was rewarded with a Woodcock on the deck in the snow near the bomb hole (82) good views of it until I got the camera out of the bag-typical. After putting the camera away I headed towards the reservoir checking through the large number of duck 30+ Wigeon, Gadwall, Coot etc, I then moved around the corner to view the small island and there on the ice was 2 Dunlin (83) good birds for here and only my 2nd record for the site. A quick record shot see below, I phoned the other valley lads and the Dunlin flew towards the island for much better views. 

And by this time Paulboy, Martin B and Dave Mc arrived to patch year tick them followed later by Dave Mo.

With Dave Mc and Martin now having other things to do for the rest of the morning Paul and I carried on towards the farmers trail and flushed a Jack Snipe (84) out of a small ditch which dropped back down into it 25m along in front of us. Luckily  Martin wasn't to far away for a return visit and enjoyed a quick flight view as below and then had to leave the valley again for a second time.

With Dave Mo playing catch up Paul and I done the decent thing and awaited for him to arrive but unfortunately the small snipe stayed out of sight. However 2 Grey Partridge in the ploughed field (85) a site tick for me and Paul, Dave was once again smiling as it was a patch year tick for him too.

The weather no doubt played a big part in what was a terrific local mornings birding displacing some good scarce birds on to the patch and does make you appreciate how hard it must be for common or scarce birds to survive the cold temperatures we've  been having this week.

 We never get Fieldfare in the garden but like most birders this week around the country it was really pleasing to have one guarding the apples we put out for the local Blackbirds.....

Monday, 19 February 2018


Despite having no new images to share, I can share that the patch is on fire of late.  Tawny Owl,Wigeon,Coal Tit,Stonechat and finally added Grey Wagtail at the weekend I'm on a  record scoring 81- my best start ever to patch year listing. And to be honest I'm really enjoying the patch this year along with the lads Dave, Paul, Martin, Dave Mc and Lee.  The only off patch birding of late has been to revisit Walthamstow Wetlands to see the Little Bunting with Martin R the other week. Good views in the end and a nice bird to add to the London list......

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Dip and grine

Saturday morning I went along to Walthamstow to try for the Little Bunting thats been hanging around for just  over a week. From 9.33am to 2pm I stood near it's favourite bush behind the yellow and black tape with twelve others plus checking the other bushes without sadly any sign . It's  the second London Little Bunting I've dipped, the first being the Amwell bird a few years back. Although having seen a good handfull of LB's over years it seems a tricky one me in London. The upside to the day was seeing the Greater Scaup and a pair of Goldeneye on Reservoir No 4 plus this Female Peregrine below that flew over the  LB's favourite bush in the wind and rain.

 Sunday morning a quick visit to the patch and I added Peregrine which puts me on 74 for the patch year list.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Patch update

Spent Saturday and Sunday morning on the patch adding Greenfinch and Kinfisher for the patch year list which now stands at a respectable 73. Woodcock should be next but nothing is guaranteed at the valley and I should know as I've been doing it for 23 years. Despite the poor return it was still good to see a couple Brambling on both days in with the large finch flock feeding on the set a side, Reed Buntings, Yellow Hammers, Redpolls are also here ,so hopefully something good can be found amongst them? Walthamstow NR scored with a smart Little Bunting last weekend- can't see why we can't at the valley, so just have to keep looking...... 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Thorndon CP for Hawfinch

Added  a couple of patch year ticks Friday evening with Snipe and on Saturday morning Red-legged Partridge and Bullfinch for a healthy score of 71.

Sunday morning I fancied a change of scenery and choose Thorndon CP for the Hawfinches. Once again they gave good views with up to 25+ being seen in 3 hours. Most views are fly overs as they zip from tree to tree giving the a tzik like call. The dull/grey light conditions is not ideal for photography so below are some poor images with very high ISO.


If I can add a view like this above on the patch this year I would be more than chuffed....

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Out with the old

Out with the old  in with new so they say! Last year I topped out a score of 106 for Ingrebourne Valley- not bad, but on 65 so far this year. With today being the best day on the patch for months since the Osprey and Spotted Crake seen in the same day. Started off with 2 Brambling on the set a side crop then added a Male Marsh Harrier over Berwick ponds- didn't see one here last year.  After adding the norm I went home happy, only to be back out on the patch in mins as Paulboy Hawkins found  2 adult Berwick Swans on the reservoir a patch tick and a super find from Paul, then patch year ticked 7 Gypo Geese- didn't see one either last year. With Dave Mo and Lee and a few of the other locals adding the Bewick's it's been really goood day on the patch......

Some record shots below

 Berwick Swan