Sunday, 28 October 2012


Wasted opportunities this weekend, should have gone Scilly, but work wouldn't allow it.  Should have then chosen Norfolk, but with the trains buggered I baulked at even Greater Anglia's generous offer of £18 return to Sheringham with a bus ride through the Suffolk countryside thrown in.  A 2 hr trip that would therefore take nearer 4 hours.  Should have gone for it, and probably done fairly well.  Little Auks littering the place, possible Waxwings littering those places not littered by auks, and any available space filled with possible Sabs Gull, migrant warblers and a White Rumped Sandpiper.  I stayed on patch, but with meaningful birding all but dried up by 10:00 AM I could have still made the coast, but I lingered, grinding it out till Jonno suggested the Girling for Long-tailed Duck and a couple of Whoopers.  Dipped the duck but got the swans, in a thoroughly miserable experience at the top of Mansfield Park in the driving rain and biting cold.  He had also contemplated the Desert Wheatear at Worthing, only for that to skip during the night.

Sunday and patch duties done I mused about Rainham, as I hadn't been there for an age.  Sunday though it's easier to get anywhere rather than Rainham, so I chose anywhere and ended up on Southend Pier.  Had I really thought that there would be Little Auk swimming through the struts, nah not really, but I had to go somewhere.

I got to the end of the rusty and rotten wood pier to find; not a lot!  A patch of Turnstone covered a ramp and a few Med Gulls. They have a new coffee shop near the life boat station; birding with a coffee it might catch on.  A flock of scoters skidded across the estuary preferring the Kent side, and a (presumably) Great Northern Diver flew down river, and that was about it.  Since they don't allow smoking anymore I took this as an omen to give up.

I'd walk down the promenade to Leigh and have a nosey around Two-Tree Island, Southend's second dog-toilet, maybe get some close in waders and geese.  The tide beat me, and somewhat surprisingly waders were thin on the ground; rather a lot of Turnstone though.  The light didn't help with the geese either, but at least I was warm for the first time since I'd left my bed, rather too warm. 

I took the east path on the island, down to the old sewage works, where the Night Heron had hold up last year.  Not a lot about.  I did hear a Green Sandpiper and had a fly over Swallow, and something that looked like a Kingfisher but with a curious blob of white on it's body - so watch out for Pied Kingfisher sightings in the next few days.  Or perhaps not!

Having done the east, I thought the light might hold for me to get to the pools at the west end, maybe find a Barn Owl or something, anything please!.  A few Teal and Wigeon and a couple of Redshank not quite what I had in mind.  Better still news of a Desert Wheatear up the road at Abberton, feck!

Then I thought to check the Egret roost to see if any Cattle Egrets had been overlooked by every member of SOG (Southend Ornithological Group), but it was too dark to make out any subtle differences in the white blobs, so I guess they had been overlooked, or still are.

To Scilly or not too silly that is the question?

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Got to love a buff yank bird!

Apparently Long-tailed Tit are rarer by miles than Buff-bellied Pipit in Shetland, and as for Lesser-spotted Woodpecker: an absolute mega. We can come to terms. We can supply LTTs by the bucket if Brydon can ship a few of the tasty birds that are seemingly common place on the islands, we may even throw in a Lesser spot or two.

Two weeks on and I am still approaching clumps of weeds on the flats and "swishing" hopefully in their direction, blind to the fact that we have acres of vegetated habitat were skulky birds can hide indefinitely.

My regard for pipits has gone up a notch or too as well. I look at our mipits and smile, though they are not quite as "buff" as the one found by Mr Riddington for us to chase after. The Pechora, an excellent bird I have no doubt, didn't afford such great views that I could really appreciate, but the Olive-backed was a little gem. Hopefully I can steal one of Mr Garner's pics to share.

Meanwhile here's buffy.

It was something approaching sadness we paid our last visit to the sheep-sized redpoll at Norwick.  It was very obliging again, I could and should have reached out and pocketed the fluff ball and taken back to Wanstead with me.

Mr Garner showing incredible field craft.

If only all birds were so obliging, well perhaps not.  The dog's would eat them on the flats!