Monday 31 August 2020

September Birds of the last decade

A quick look over the last ten Septembers reveals the following birds seen in the coming month..

(only included those not seen thus far in 2020)

Brown Booby

American Golden Plover

Black-eared Wheatear

Red-necked Phalarope

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

Wryneck (Seen in September four years in the last decade but I've dipped two so far this year)

Roseatte Tern

Pallid Harrier (Seen in September two years in the last decade and there's one in West Sussex today)

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Woodchat Shrike

Citrine Wagtail

Least Sandpiper

Stilt Sandpiper

Spotted Crake

Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler

Arctic Warbler

Grey Phalarope

Red-throated Pipit

Western Swamphen

Black Stork

Wilson's Phalarope

Lesser Grey Shrike (Seen twice in September in the last decade)

Pectoral Sandpiper

Red-breasted Flycatcher (Seen twice in September in the last decade)

Barred Warbler (Again seen twice in September in the last decade)

Yellow-browed Warbler

Olive-backed Pipit

Long-tailed Skua


Masked Shrike

White-rumped Sandpiper

Baird's Sandpiper

Baillon's Crake

Montagu's Harrier

Short-billed Dowitcher

Booted Warbler

Little Bittern

Leach's Petrel

Sabine's Gull

so going by that list I have a bit to look forward to in September and hopefully we'll keep the virus under control and allow us to make the trips to see whatever is thrown our way this autumn.


King George V

The Jim's called and asked if I fancied meeting up at the Resi today and after some deliberation I was on my way meeting them at King George V reservoir for the long walk around both south and north basins hoping for some migrant activity and they would love to see a Wheatear before we move into Autumn.

The view from the reservoir

As we walked up we had a couple of Yellow Wagtails with the dozens of Pieds. Common Sandpipers seemed to be around every corner and we must have encountered well over a dozen on the walk. As we approached the north basin I picked up two Black Terns in the distance so we walked closer for better views but they never came close. On the relief channel we spotted the Hooded Merganser that seems to have made it's self at home here but it's the first time I have encountered it myself. 

Hooded Merganser 

Always distant

The bushes lining the relief channel were alive with passage migrants and we enjoyed great views of Lesser and Common Whitethroats . A Sedge Warbler was seen and a large group of Blackcaps. There were lots of Chiffchaff and the odd Willow Warbler and of course the usual Tits and Finches. The only Hirundines were five Swallows and the only tern other than the Blacks was a single Common that was surprisingly harassed by one of the Black Terns and not allowed to settle. We encountered a car parked on the causeway and some guys fishing which is a first but the Thames Water guys came around and didn't approach them so I guess it was all above board.

The bushes were alive with birds busy feeding up 

The year list now sits at 248 which in these crazy Covid times is respectable I suppose. I can't wait to get in a car with the Jims again to make our birding that bit more rewarding as we share the event and memories and they still want to see a Wheatear in 2020.

King George V........That's a lot of water 

Sunday 30 August 2020

More images from Saturdays trip to Dunge


I missed another good sea watch day at Oare/Shellness but I couldn't drag myself down there again today. The last few dip days and the fact that I'm currently going solo with the virus preventing me and the Jims sharing a car are both playing a part in my lack of energy for the driving part of birding.  I really must move to the coast at some point as I'd love to get up and walk a lively coastal patch each day and leave the car (and the lost time in it) behind. (We can all dream)

Wanstead Whinchats

 Just a few more Whinchat images I considered worth posting ......

Wanstead Whinchats and a visit to Kent

On Friday I visited Wanstead again and again bumped into Nick and a few others as I wandered around their patch. I counted five Whinchat but more were reported by others. I also encountered two Spotted Flycatchers, two Tree Pipits and a very smart looking Lesser Whitethroat which I always appreciate. A Redstart was also found by the car park but I didn't see that on this visit as I opted to leave when it started raining not like the hardier species of birder that took shelter in the trees.

Whinchat at Wanstead

Yesterday I went looking for a Wryneck in Kent and again I failed to find one but I did find a Short-eared Owl down at Galloways before the MOD kicked me out at 7.30am. I also had another Whinchat here and a couple of Raven.

Short-eared Owl at Dunge

I was planning on a sea watch but couldn't resist a quick look for the Glossy Ibis on ARC whilst down here and I'm glad I did as the bird dropped in as I got to the mound. Also on ARC a Little Stint, a couple of Common Sandpipers, eight Blackwits, seven Dunlin, a Little-ringed Plover and lots of Hirundines.

Glossy Ibis on ARC pit

The reserve is now open three days a week but the hides are closed so I was left to view from the mound beside the car park where I found a Greenshank and a Common Sandpiper the only thing of note. No Black Tern but there are lot's of Wheatear about on the beach and a large roost of Sandwich Terns. A Skylark gave me a run around as I tried to make sure it was a Skylark.

I left and drove to Shellness on the way home where I plotted up on my own and began to watch the sea. I had some passage but think I'd missed the best action of the day. Several Skuas moved south and could be Identified as Great and Arctic but despite one very likely pale juvenile Long-tailed  I failed to see it well enough to label it for sure. As for Terns all I saw were Common so I guess the others reported may have been too far out for my chosen watchpoint. Wader numbers along the shoreline were impressive with hundreds of Oystercatcher along with Curlews, Knot, Ringed-Plovers, Turnstone, Dunlin and Sanderling. 

Continuous movement of Oystercatchers on a falling tide as they headed for the exposed mud

As Dad would say.....A stone turner

Year list stuck at 247 but a lovely couple of days watching birds

Monday 24 August 2020

Dipped again

The last week saw me dip again, this time a wasted day in Norfolk where Mick Davis photographed an Eleonor's Falcon early one morning and only realising later when looking at the images it was actually not a Hobby but quite a rarity and in fact only the eight ever Eleonor's for Britain. The bird hasn't been seen since Mick's sighting and as before with this species it's thus far proved untwitchable but if it had returned to Winterton and I was sat at home I'd be kicking myself so needed to put myself in the frame to connect if was to return for a second day which it didn't and my recent run of poor twitch form continues.

So to put that memory behind me I spent yesterday morning on Wanstead Flats after the Jims informed me they had a couple of Whinchat. I managed to connect with the Whinchats but despite my best efforts they never really wanted their picture taken. A Wheatear was also seen on a couple of occasions along with Tree Pipit and Lesser Whitethroat of note. The Parakeets were particularly vocal and it was interesting looking back in old Essex Bird Reports to see these were a rare bird only twenty years ago with just the odd sighting in the county recording area (which includes the Flats). Always nice to bump into Nick for a chat and yes a request has been made for him to find a rare this autumn and he tells me this is going to be a Bunting year.

Note to self: I need to find a patch at some point and one I don't need to drive to would be even better.

Wheatear at Wanstead

Whinchat at Wanstead

Now where is that next 2020 bird coming from...did somebody say Black Tern?

Tuesday 18 August 2020

Dipped another Greenish Warbler

With no fewer than five Greenish Warblers scattered along the north Norfolk coast yesterday and with me having never seen one I hatched a plan last night to give it a go and set off to arrive for first light this morning. I stopped at north pools in Wells and walked down the track to scope finding a year tick with two Wood Sandpipers on view and in good company too with Garganey, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank and Spoonbill the best of the offering. A Lesser Whitethroat popped up too on my way back to the car.

The view over north pools from the car park

It was now 8am and none of yesterdays Greenish had been reported so I had to make a start somewhere and chose the campsite at Stiffkey. I walked for a mile or so finding only Lesser Whitethroat of note before heading back to the old sewage works for a while. At 9.15am I got news that a Greenish had been seen at the Dell in Wells woods and by 10am I'd paid the car parking and was walking down to the dell with the hundreds of beach goers.  On arrival all seemed well with news that the Greenish was doing a circuit with the large tit flock and would be round again soon. My mood changed two hours in when I hadn't even seen a Blue Tit let alone a large flock. I started to search further afield finding a minimum of four Pied Flycatchers in the Dell before finding out that the Greenish had been "reported" down the track near the meadow. I told a few others of the news and we started searching again finding a tit flock in the hawthorns by the meadow. The flock contained Chiffchaff, Willow Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat but only a few Blue Tits. A guy next to me played the call of the Greenish and a bird popped up and quickly flew away, this was called as Greenish but for me it was far to quick I couldn't get any detail on it. We tried to relocate this bird but failed and after four hours of searching I conceded and left for home.

The dip was compounded by news at 4.09pm that Holme had a Greenish in the car park this morning but for some reason whoever saw it decided not to put out news until the end of the day. I also noticed that one was reported today as seen on Sunday in Hemsby and a Sardinian Warbler was also reported today as seen at Winterton on Sunday carrying on this recent trend of late news.

Year list now 247

Sunday 16 August 2020

Birding Suffolk

My day started at Landguard as I'd imagined finding something good there and I didn't do too bad as I quickly found a Wheatear out on the point followed by a Common Redstart, Whinchat, Black Redstart, another two Wheatear and a Pied Flycatcher. Lot's of Linnet and Pied Wagtail made up the best of the rest.

Whinchat at Landguard
Wheatear at Landguard

With news of the Red-backed Shrike still showing at Southwold I jumped back in the car and drove another half an hour up the A12 parking up and walking out onto the golf course. Within a few minutes I'd added my second year tick of the day when the Shrike sat up briefly before flying across the green and out view. I searched for the bird while the other guys waited and found it down by the tennis courts and managed a couple of reasonable images before losing it again. Here I also had at least four Lesser Whitethroats and a few Common Whitethroats with the Lessers looking really sharp.

Red-backed Shrike at Southwold
Red-backed Shrike

With news coming in of Greenish Warblers in Norfolk it was hard not to continue north but I resisted and headed south towards home stopping at Alton Waters where I quickly found my second Gull-billed Tern of the year (and ever). The Tern sat on the railing just shielded by a Black-headed Gull before taking flight. I continued to watch the bird for a couple of hours before heading home as the rain arrived.

Alton Water
Gull-billed Tern
Gull-billed Tern at Alton Water

A cracking day in Suffolk delivered some real quality birds and two year ticks bringing 

the year list to 246

Common Terns
Lesser Whitethroats
Common Tern

I'm still looking for my first Wood Sandpiper and Black Tern of the year and I'm hoping for a Wryneck in the next few days to keep the year list ticking over.

Wednesday 12 August 2020

Sparrowhawk and one less Woodpigeon

I had this cracking encounter with a Sparrowhawk this morning thanks to a call from my son to let me know he'd just seen one sitting on a Woodpigeon in Clays Lane. I got to the bird five minutes later and it was still sat on the pigeon and continued to enjoy its breakfast until a guy came out of his home and spooked it.