The Dark Room

Thursday, 22 June 2017

92

The garden list for Red Kite is two in twenty three years living in Hornchurch but on Saturday morning after Dave Mc phoned to say that one was heading my way. I made a quick dash inside to grab the camera to get a record shot of the 3rd for garden. Not long after two Buzzard went over and then another two Red Kite flew over together.

A Sunday morning jog around the Ingrebourne Valley over near Berwick ponds yielded a patch year tick in form of a Bearded Tit calling in the cut, which was a bonus and then on Wednesday evening the patch served up a young Tawny Owl calling in the woods for a whopping 92 for the patch year list.



One of three Red Kite over the garden on Saturday.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Grasshopper Warbler

The sound of a mechanical sir'r'r'r'r'r'r... reeling Grasshopper Warbler deep down in cover seems to have been the norm lately but on Saturday morning I finally had good views of one. Although it was a bit distant for the 400mm lens I'm just happy to see one this year after blanking for the last few weeks.



Sunday, 14 May 2017

Brown hare

Normally the view you get of a Brown hare is one of it's rear running away fast in the distance across a field but on Saturday morning this Hare broke all the rules. Defiantly the best views I've ever had.




ISO 400 1/640 plus 1 stop and used the  mono pod and slowly crawled along the path.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Singing Quail at Rainham Marshes - is that your phone?

Rainham Marshes continues it's good run of form with a singing male Quail on the hill 100m West of Aveley car park on Saturday 6th May, my 2nd for London but my first self found. The first one was found by Paul Hawkins at Rainham Marshes  on 5th May 2007. I started off at around 9.30am from the car park with 2 Northern Wheatear and a cracking male Stonechat along the metal fence line. After checking the river with nothing noteworthy I concentrated on the large over head passage of common Swifts only to be interrupted by a call ( 'wet-my-lips' ) which was repeated 3 times -it's a bloody Quail!

Quickly after my excitement two birders came walking towards me, one being James Heal from Wanstead who was looking at his phone? Is that your phone James? and before I went in to detail the Quail called again- phew! A scarce bird nationally but a good one for London and therefore twitched by many over it's 3 day stay.

Sadly no images of the Quail unlike the 5 Whimbrel on the same hill that did show quite well.






Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Face off

With light showers on and off all day yesterday I did hope to find some more newly arrived migrants late afternoon but more than happy to find this Short-eared Owl drying out in the long grass. Not close but still cracking views. Watching it preening and cleaning itself to get ready to start hunting after getting wet was a great way to end the bank holiday, specially when a male Pheasant walked past and stopped to have a face off like boxers do before a fight and carried on walking by - quite comical!







Monday, 1 May 2017

89

With Peregrine, Cuckoo, Egytian Goose, Swift, Hobby, House Martin, Wheatear and finally Mistle Thrush added over the bank holiday, the patch year list stands at a gigantic 89 for the Ingrebourne Valley. Yep, it's the 1st of May and Mistle Thrush is my 89th - no rules on when you see them, just as long as you do.

Missing though is Grasshopper Warbler, Garden Warbler and Whinchat the latter is one of my favourites so I had to go to Rainham Marshes RSPB to get my annual fix Sunday afternoon. Not a great image below but happy to see 3 together and spring males are just stunning to look at......


In between the grass that's a male Whinchat

Sunday, 23 April 2017

In the bag

With Whimbrel, Common Tern added on Friday evening at Rainham Marshes plus Yellow Wagtail and Corn Bunting late Saturday afternoon it was just nice to unlock the camera from its bag and get a few keepers for what seems like months. So much so when my first Whimbrel of the year flew towards me on Friday the camera was still in the bag but I did managed to keep one of the images from the 10 fired off the camera. However on Saturday with the camera unlocked , 10 Wheatears near the tip provided some good photo opportunities and even better to hear the male Wheatear below singing which is something you don't hear often in London bird recording area was a real bonus too.





Whimbrel

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Red

The last seven days birding the valley have been a big improvement of recent weeks, what with the successful twitch of the Jack Snipe mid- week found by Dave Mc which showed nicely from the viewing area and only my third in over 23 at the Ingrebourne and the fact that migrants are now  trickling through.

Saturday morning I started at the viewing with 3 Green Sandpiper and 3 singing Willow Warbler and 1 Reed Warbler and then made my way to the small paddock for a  Redstart or a patch tick Ring Ouzel? but instead more than happy with a tatty Red Kite as it drifted west towards the reservoir. As I high fived the dog walkers, joggers and those who were riding bikes as I crossed the black bridge a male Common Redstart fanned out its beatuiful red tail like a pack of playing cards as it was being chased by a Robin. A all to brief view but a close one of a good patch bird. (77)

 Jack Snipe


 Thanks to Nick Croft for the use of his camera for the after work/dinner mid-week twitch.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Slow going

Saturday morning I added Wheatear and Sedge Warbler to my very small year list at Rainham Marshes. Other than that a few chiffy's and the odd singing Blackcap, that was it really......

Sunday afternoon I had my first Swallow of the year in Upminster. So as you can see it's slow going still....


One of the two Wheatears at Rainham Marshes, always good to see your first one of the year.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

70

Sunday morning I bagged five patch year ticks whilst whizzing around on my mountain bike they were Chiffchaff, Yellow Hammer, Stock Dove, LBBG and Red crested Pochard. The pair of Pochards still on the reservoir have been in hiding for the last three visits- so I'm happy with that one and that makes  it number 70 for the patch.


If a Dunlin makes it on to the patch list this year it would only my second in over 23 years.......

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Ingrebourne update

After four failed attempts the female Brambling that's been kicking around the visitor centre at the Ingrebourne valley  for a while now is finally on the my patch year list. The early start was all I needed as previously all visits were after work.  It's been faithful around the feeders, so with Monday and Tuesday off work it was 'job done'. With good views on Monday morning I went went back with the camera on Tuesday.

  
With Woodcock, Scaup, Waxwing, Stonechat being the latest additions I wonder what will be next?

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Hand warmer

The weather may of been overcast and dull but the mornings ringing session back down at Beckton sewage works with Paul 'boy' Hawkins was multicoloured.

19 new birds trapped and a few retraps made it nice and steady with a smart female Reed Bunting, Blue and Great tits, Dunnock, Robin and my favourite Long tailed Tits- new for me in the hand. They may be tiny but the warmth that they generate in the hand for just a few seconds holding them is just amazing, like a small hand warmer.


 Long tailed Tit

Female Reed Bunting

Blue Tit

Great Tit

Dunnockl


Thanks again Paul.....

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Patch year tick

Last week while enjoying our first skiing holiday in Bulgaria along with 14 other family members and friends in the resort of Bansko. A group Waxwings were spotted in Airfield Way Hornchurch near the GI pub and this morning was the first time to have a look, luckily 30 were still present in the same tree and the fact that they did fly into the Ingrebourne valley airspace for a welcome patch year tick made it more special!


A soft image at ISO 1250 F5.6 in this mornings snow.....  (patch year tick)

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Beckton

On Saturday morning I tagged along with Paul 'boy' Hawkins at Beckton sewage works for some ringing. Due to cold conditions Paul used two small nets so he could check and process safely and quickly and let the birds free to feed.

12 Chiffchaff, 1 Robin, 1 Linnet and a Goldfinch are now carrying a BTO ring. Always interesting to see Paul check the age, weight, wing length etc and it still amazes me how tiny Chiffchaff are...

Once we had packed up we went off to photograph the Siberian Chiffchaff in amongst 30+ Common Chiffy's, not easy with a few pale birds but you know when do, very pale on the breast  and flanks, no yellow in the eye strip and has a strong Siberian accent.


Common Chiffchaff


Goldfinch


Linnet


Robin


Siberian Chiffchaff

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Through the looking glass

This male Green Woodpecker has been visiting our garden regularly now for over the past two weeks and at times shows quite well.  The only problem is trying  to photogragh it through the glass window like the image below...


ISO 640 5.6 plus 28mm double glazed unit





Sunday, 8 January 2017

Wax on Wax off

Saturday afternoon I kicked started my Ingrebourne Valley patch year list for a whopping total of 57 species with Barn Owl, Grey Wagtail, Redpoll and Red legged Partridge being the highlights. Most, if not all the time spent on the patch I was trying to refind the Great Grey Shrike that was seen briefly on Friday late afternoon by Dave Mc ( well done btw) So a bigger total would of been more achievable.

Sunday morning I went along to Harold Hill near the B&Q and had about ten minutes with the 22 Waxwings before they flew off. Good views but light was dull so had to push the ISO to 1000 to get any chance of a reasonable image. So what with seeing the 4 Waxwings at Rayleigh last weekend and finding a single bird near the circus tavern/Esso garage in Purfleet the same day 2017 is being a good year to see one locally.


Waxwing in Harold Hill

Monday, 2 January 2017

Birthday birding

So the 2nd January is my birthday and I'm 46 today and with all the presents,cards and piles of money to open it wasn't a early start. However  I arrived at Rayleigh weir at 9.40am to see the 4 Waxwings at the glamorous industrial site in the Mc Donald's car park. With the fast food restaurant being very busy the Waxwings was always being disturbed when feeding as the trees are very close to the road and foot path.
Light was good but with the temperature being bloody cold, I've got a bit of camera shake even with using the mono pod.

Always  good see though and a good year tick!