Thursday, 11 May 2017

The invisible gobby warbler

Renowned for their secretive yet explosively noisy manner, the Cetti's is a tricky bird to get any decent views of.  Yesterday one cocky individual decided to brave exposure.  Lucky for me it did else I would have been half way round the sea wall when news of the Black-winged Stilts broke.  Not that it would have mattered they were still there at 19:00.













Saturday, 6 May 2017

April, 2017

Make or break month, the time for wader movement up the Thames and the chance of catching up with the flighty terns and small gulls.  I knew Wanstead would deliver up the passerine movement of Redstart, Ouzel, Whinchat plus a warbler or two, but with only 2, 2, 3 respectively it was a near run thing.  What we did get, and we usually get something unusual was a singing Nightingale, better by far than the Fisher's Green bird(s) I did go for.


The next day brought a spring Woodlark, which was handy and off radar but which helped in achieving 142 species for the month. The 150 mark could have easily been achieved as I ignored 3 owls, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and a few other easy birds (I am already on 110 for May and it's only 6 days in–keeps me interested!).

The month started off well with a showy owl at Rainham and a few days later one of the tricky small gulls–an adult Little Gull showing well (through a scope) on another gloomy day at the KGV.  The 8th brought my first controversial bird, destined to get a "Not Proven" from two rarity committees in due course. I was to visit my mum, but the trains were being perverse meaning I had to use the Stratford Bishops Stortford train and change along the line. It sopped for a long time at Broxbourne, I imagine to let a faster train by, after a while I thought this might be the Cambridge train so I hopped off.  It was the Stansted Express instead.  Gotta change somewhere I suppose.  Checking the the displays I realised my error, especially as now virtually everything was subject to delay. I bought a coffee and had a quick snout and went to my platform.  Broxbourne is a pretty good station as it gives a view over some of the least disturbed bits of the Lea valley.  I've had Hobby and Buzzard here, terns flying between the lakes and a Turtle Dove on the wires just to the north–so one of the better places to be marooned.

As I stood I became aware of a song, which sounded familiar yet unusual. It was coming from the line of bushes to the east of the disused marshaling tracks. Cupping my ears I could hear it quite clearly between the train announcements (one of which suggested my train would be 20 minutes late) and movements. It sang on.  I know what this is. An Iberian Chiffchaff was singing about 50 feet away from me, but before I could think about recording it on the i-phone my tardy train turned up early, late as I was already I had to get on it.  On my return and over the next few days I spent about 6 hours loitering on the platform and assessing other routes into the scrub, but heard not a thing. Seven other Iberian Chiffchaff were reported in the UK the same day, which adds credibility, but since the Barnes' bird is not looking as it will get the nod–as far as I know only one other person heard that singing–I don't hold out much hope for it being accepted as a first for Hertfordshire!
















KGV 4th April: A late couple of Goldeneye and a smart Little Gull (take my word for it!)







Ingrebourne Valley before it turned to a dust bowl.










Rainham: Tailless lizards










Wanstead Park: Our first record of Little Ringed Plover on the former Heronry pond


Rainham 11th April: Whimbrels return


One of the last flock of wintering Curlew





Staines Reservoir: Great Northern Diver on the 15th and Red-necked Grebe the nest day–gorgeous bird, but too far even for me to consider papping.
















Rainham 17th April: Bar-tailed Godwits arriving
















Ingrebourne Valley Grey Partridges.  Bit of a surprise and depending on who you listen to, a reintroduction for selfless reasons or to shoot!




Rainham: Visibly reeling groppers




















Wanstead Flats: A friendly Common Sandpiper stays for four days on the Alex



28th April: Having dipped on a Red-rumped Swallow at Island Barn Reservoir, which I perhaps should have got, a bonus Wood Warbler at Danson Park meant all the traveling wasn't aa complete waste of time.








Rainham again: Greenshanks and wits





Med gull

At last my first London Sanderling and probably one of the highlights of the month



Spotted Redshank

Wanstead Flats: Whinchats return