Monday, 27 May 2013

Muddling away

I've been avoiding looking at the blogosphere these last couple of weeks, waiting for wall to wall thrush coverage to disappear. No I didn't get it, and yes I basically fucked up.  Having left my phone in the butts hide Rainham on a futile Thursday venture to get waders, I was left on Saturday while all and sundry were having a chipper time in a cemetery with the aforementioned thrush. Bob and I tried on Sunday, got as far as the Blackwall Tunnel, which was closed, and with no news did the decent thing and gave up. I may still be alive when the next one turns up and if I have any money left for full-time carers I will get my nurse to wheel me round to see it.

May has been hard work, and basically shit compared with last year.  This weekend I spent Saturday dipping Red-rumped Swallow at Beddington.  We gave it an hour or so before looking for the Tree Sparrow at the only known site in London to still have these little charmers. That excitement over Stu and I got on the tram to go and have a look at Staines Res in the forlorn hope that something interesting might have stuck around.  Mr Bradnum, who had started to give me a lift to Beddington then decanted me at Tulse Hill when it became apparent the swallow was not for (re)turning, texted of a RB Shrike at the Wetland Centre.  Well you have to, don't you?

We were greeted at the centre by one of the volunteers who told us it had flown high to the north just a few minutes earlier.  Excellent news and well worth the £10 I splurged on getting Mr Fisher through the gates.  Well since we are here might as well have a look at...  well not a lot actually.  We chose the tower hide for an over view, and quickly realised there was nothing to redeem the tenner.  However, the sharp eyed Mr Fisher noticed strange goings on in the Headley hide.  The people in there were indeed behaving like there was something to be seen. so finally we wandered around to find out what.  Can't say I was too optimistic, but I am happy to say I was quite wrong.  The shrike had returned and was now sitting on a post just behind a small hedge.  Crippling views. It then disappeared again.  We tried the path by the reed bed and the bird did the decent thing of sitting up in an Alder. I think it was my first adult male, and a London tick, so yay!

Ticked Barnacle, Lesser Whitefront and a few other mega rare ducks, what a place. Just need to photoshop them into some suitable wintry habbo and job done....

We did go to Staines and predictably were deflated.  The Swifts were good though, whizzing about us in their hundreds, so close you could hear their wings and feel the air move as they narrowly avoided colliding with our heads.  No interesting turns (or terns), another Turnstone and the three Black-necked Grebe in their breeding best.  One even called, which threw me as it didn't sound particularly grebe like and had me checking the vegetation for some time before I wised up.  The list stumbles on....

Friday, 17 May 2013

Greenshank redemption

Rainham had a couple of good wader days this week. Not much good to me as the news arrived while I was at work. Happily I mused that it would be a one day event, unhappily it was repeated the following day.

So, nothing for it but to go and have a look myself. While the previous day's weather had been truly atrocious, Thursday was probably the nicest morning I've ever had down the river and as such totally rubbish for birds. One Greenshank all to show for the effort of getting up and out nice and early.

OK the Cuckoos were good, perching up nicely (not that you'd know it from my shots), and a female Wheatear on the strand line. To cap it all I left my phone in the butts hide, so I'll have to go back Saturday. On the plus side though, the weather looks pretty grim so there's more chance of a good wader popping up. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Bank holiday Bradder's Birding breckland bonanza!

The Bank Holiday feels so long ago, and lethargy has set in big time.

So to be brief: Saturday went to Rainham, it was OK, but not so OK as to make the really early start worthwhile.

Sunday and another early start to get to JL's house for a Bradder's Breckland Birding Bonanza. Walking through a deserted broom field with just the dawn chorus for company, now that was worth it...

First up Thetford and an otter and a faceless duck, then off to Lakenheath to rendezvous with a rather smart Red-footed Falcon in amongst the numerous Hobby over Joist Fen, with a support cast of the usuals.

Midday and Lunch, too much, oh yeagh!

A few stops to pick up Tree Pipit, Woodlark, Common Redstart ending up at Cavenham Heath for a couple of not so distant Stone Curlew.

Final point of call was Lackford Lakes a rather agreeable SWT site just north of Bury St Edmunds to be serenaded out by Nightingale and as the credits roll a stunning Black Tern performing over the peaceful waters.

106 species and the organisers have finally woken up to the fact there is good coffee to be found and used in association with a thermos flask...

Sunday and the patch is dieing on my feet, bar a Garden Warbler, so we hoof it up to north London to hunt for exciting raptors and get Crossbill instead...