Wednesday, 25 May 2022

I used to go birding

I used to go out birding!

I was a birder from a very young age living in a house very close to the river Roding I'd often be found walking the field enjoying the birds from a very young age. Back then we'd swim in the bomb holes of the Roding and I was a child when the M11 was build and remember spending many a happy hour swimming in the gravel works which is now the Roding Valley lake. We had no fear back then. The lake was eventually opened once the motorway was completed and we were promised all kinds of local events and past times. A guy used to come and use the lake for Windsurfing lessons and the owner would encourage a couple of us to use the boards to encourage others to pay which was good as we got free time on the boards almost daily. 

The RAF camp where the the David Lloyd centre now sits was another source of entertainment as we'd go down into the old bunkers often finding the odd item of interest in them. We'd dig the sand pits from the old disused firing range and always found a few spent shells to take home along with the odd live round or two which again worried us not. This was our life and it was always outdoors, we went home to eat and sleep but if we could get out we were out. My old Chopper bike was almost a part of my anatomy I spent that much time on it.

As I started work, got married and had children my birding days were forgotten and although the interest never left me my time was taken up working and running my boys to various sporting events and I managed a football team for ten years too with all the after work and weekend commitment that involves.

So the above hopefully illustrated that A) I have always had the birding bug and that B) I put the boys before my birding for almost two decades. So they've grown and they've flown the nest and since 2010 I've been year listing and enjoying the trips the ticks and not so much the odd dip but I've had more time and it's been great seeing some lovely places, great birds and the odd bit of company along the way has been great too. Move on a bit and my wifes health starts to fail needing more time and care from me, my mother in law moves into a care home and my father in law now needs more of my time. Then my children start to have children and my time now is very much split between caring for my wife and my father in law and playing with the three grandchildren I've been blessed with and my birding is now once again falling way back down the list. 

I'm left instead enjoying the garden wildlife and dreaming of finding more time to get out and about again. 








This year the House Sparrows have been successful and the first broods are out pumping up the numbers coming to my daily offerings. The Robins managed to get a single fledgling but sadly it collided with a window on day one and they have started a second brood. The Magpies now have two fledglings and the Blue Tits are busy in the nest box so I hope for some youngsters soon. The Foxes are visiting the garden more regularly and earlier in the evenings allowing for some images to be captured but we're still waiting to see the youngsters. All this is giving me a small fix to keep my eye in with nature and that's where I'm at!

I'm a lucky man to have these drains on my time I know but I really would like to find the time and to some extent the motivation to get back in the saddle with my birding adventures. Maybe a decent life tick is what's required or maybe just a really good day out like Bempton time will tell.

Oh and I've been sketching again, I'm not particularly keen to share the results but here's a couple of teasers..........


Cormorant

Now where's that day out I'm so desperate for?

Monday, 9 May 2022

All happening at home

So it's been a busy time at home recently.
First my second grandchild Emily was born on 16th March then my youngest and his wife had their first child and my third grandchild on 30th April, then on 1st May I celebrated 40 years of marriage with Suzanne and of course I have my grandson who celebrated his fourth birthday with me yesterday.

As you can imagine all the above along with my care commitments has seen my time for birding very limited. I did manage a walk around the valley recently where I dipped three valley ticks in the form of Glossy Ibis, Barwit and Spotshank but I did pick up a year tick with my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year along with enjoying many singing Nightingales.

I also managed to get away yesterday morning for a short walk around Rainham RSPB. I added two year ticks here with four Wood Sandpipers from Butts hide and a Hobby on the return leg of the reserve. Two Cattle Egrets, a Great White Egret and a Cuckoo among the highlights of the 70 species seen on the visit.

Year list now 209 

40 years! ("It'll never last")



Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Marsh Frog

Redshank

Common Whitethroat

Whitethroat

Canada Goose in full defence mode

Friday, 29 April 2022

KGV

A quick trip to check for Terns at KGV early this morning delivered a nice bonus year tick in the form of a Black Tern flying around the south basin. The smart summer plumaged Red-necked Grebe was still about but remained in the middle of the reservoir during our brief visit. As we watched the Terns our attention was taken by a group of hirundines overhead and following them was my first Swifts of the year with a small group of five followed by another group of twenty plus with yet more hirundines. 

A Turnstone was seen as we searched for Common Sandpipers and shortly after we added the Sandpiper to the year list with at least three birds present. Two Yellow Wagtails were added to the days totals before we left but the drake Smew eluded us.

A short but productive visit with three new for year birds. 

Year list now 206

Common Sandpiper

House Martin

Pied Wagtail

Red necked Grebe

Sand Martin

Swallow

Swallows

Turnstone


Thursday, 28 April 2022

Lakenheath RSPB

I've recently been bemoaning my lack of birding opportunities or adventure but with Robert wanting to visit Lakenheath, yesterday gave me an opportunity for a decent morning out with him and the Jims. We left home early and arrived at Lakenheath around 6am. Lakenheath is one of those great reserves that has dawn-til-dusk access and allows you to enjoy the dawn chorus fully and so we started at the washland view point where we found Garganey, Ruff, Avocet, Black-tailed Godwits and more but the noise was the most impressive thing as all around us we could hear Sedge/Reed/Cetti's Warblers, Reed Buntings, Wren, Robin, Blackbird and Common Whitethroats all singing as if their lives depended on it.

The walk up the river bank gave nice views of several of the above singers and a Grasshopper Warbler was heard very distantly reeling. The Greylags and Egyptian Geese have young with the latter almost fully grown. Cuckoos were calling and often seen perched up or in flight and our first of many Marsh Harrier was seen as we walked past New Fen.

We arrived at Joist Fen and sat to enjoy the view for a couple of hours. Single Cranes were seen on five occasions flying across the reed bed and dropping into the surrounding fields. These are thought to be wondering birds not the birds breeding on site. Marsh Harrier continued to show and we had two Bittern in flight along with several fast flight views of the local Kingfisher. The view from Joist Fen has changed a bit with the reeds being thinned to create a scrape which held large numbers of Snipe. We added House Martin to the year list but general numbers of hirundines was low and with the cool grey day no Hobbies had shown on this visit. A single Common Tern flew up the river.

Distant Common Crane feeding out on the farmland across the river

Reed Bunting

Sedge Warbler

We slowly made our way back visiting the hide and New Fen on our way. At the hide we had brief distant views of some Bearded Tits but it was very quiet and slow viewing with the entertainment coming first from a Coot feeding its single chick then a fight between four Coot and finally and interaction between Coot and Great-crested Grebe.

Coots

Coots

Coots

Coots

Great crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

This Grebe popped up next to the Coot giving it quite a fright

At New Fen we had another encounter with a wondering Crane that was joined in the air by our third Bittern of the day.  







A brief visit to Cavenham before leaving the Brecks was disappointingly quiet and we failed to find a single Stone Curlew. 

Skylark

Stonechat

A day list of 80 species was reached with just the one year tick being House Martins.


Year list now 203

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Colin

A few images from last weeks visit to see Colin at Thursley












Colin

I may just have to go back!