Thursday 29 September 2022

Blue-winged Teal at Fairlop waters ESSEX

News broke yesterday of a Blue-winged Teal at Fairlop water along with the usual (can't rule out Cinnamon Teal or hybrid) caveat. I thought I'd pop over today and have a look but then this morning it was reported as having clipped wings so my enthusiasm understandably waned until it was reported again at lunch time "fully winged".  On the second report I set off with the Jims as Fairlop is only a couple of miles away, we were there in a few minutes, and I noticed three birders with scopes/cameras set up so we headed for them hoping they knew where the Blue-winged Teal was. Andy T, Russ S and another greeted us and did indeed have the bird in their scopes.

The bird sat on the bank of the centre island of the main lake and did take a short walk before briefly swimming for a bit of a feed. The bird has a limp but definitely has two full wings and appeared to be un-ringed. The large white bar in the wings between the blue and green would indicate that it's a male and the dull sandy colour of the legs would indicate that it's a juvenile bird.

It remained distant and wary and all points to a wild bird. It was first reported as a possible Cinnamon Teal so this doubt remains but if accepted it would be an Essex tick for me so I'm pleased I put in the small effort to go and see it.

Egyptian Goose

Egyptian Goose

Monday 26 September 2022

Common Nighthawk at Wantage in Oxfordshire

Sitting at home today doing my usual domestic duties I'm joined unexpectedly by my father-in-law, my son and my granddaughter and then the news breaks of a Common Nighthawk report in Oxfordshire. I called the Jims and put them on standby to await news of its accuracy and twitch ability.  These issues were quickly cleared up and access seemed ok too in exchange for a tenner, so I made my excuses and we set off for the 90mile trip around the M25/M40 arriving on site at 2pm to find around a hundred others already on site. We each dropped a ten-pound note in the bucket and within seconds were enjoying the fantastic vagrant from a distance of no more than twenty feet away. It sat on the fence all afternoon shuffling from looking left to looking right and back again every so often and would lift its head and open an eye every time a Red Kite flew over. 

The bird was last reported as taking to the skies just before 7pm.

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk



The news on site was that a resident had seen the bird and reported it to the RSPCA thinking it was sick as it was just sitting on the fence and of course it was quickly ID'd as Nighthawk and news put out. Well done to all involved locally for getting news out, arranging viewing and for the charity collection work.

Sitting on the fence

Some of the crowd

It's proving quite a year and this is my ninth life tick so far taking the life list to 435 and the year list to 240

Sunday 25 September 2022

Catching up

I've not blogged since early September but I have managed a little birding in the last couple of weeks.

Firstly, a trip to Cley for a sea watch, I'd seen the North westerlies forecast but couldn't make it up on the Friday so although winds were less favourable on the Saturday I headed up anyway. It took a while to get going but we eventually saw a dozen Arctic Skuas and a couple of Great Skuas. A few Red-throated Diver passed, others reported both Manx and Balearic Shearwater which we missed. Gannets were distant but ever present and a few Auks were seen along with a few Red-breasted Mergansers. We had a very distant very probable large Shearwater that we couldn't nail as views were so distant and brief. Lots of Ducks moved west which included mostly Scoter, Teal and Wigeon but wader numbers were disappointing.

After a cold four hours we departed and stopped at Dernford farm reservoir in Cambridgeshire where we quickly ticked the distant Pec Sand as it waded up and down in the company of Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper.

Very distant Pec

On Friday we took the short drive down to East Tilbury hoping to get the Jims a year tick with the long staying Stone Curlews. A walk down to the scrape where we bumped into Harry for a natter before the birding started. Green Sandpipers, Blackwits, Lapwing were seen before local birder Paul W helped us find the area the Stone Curlews favoured and we managed to pick out all three in the scope. We next watched the shoreline as the tide came in and what a spectacle it provided with over 1000 Avocets and Dunlin and hundreds of Blackwits the obvious highlights. We did pick out a few Curlew and Grey Plover too along with Shelduck. Little Stint and Curlew Sandpipers were seen but not by me. The walk back was very birdy with lots of common migrants like Meadow Pipit, Robin, Blackcap and Chiffchaff but we failed to find anything rarer.

Today we popped over to Wanstead for a couple of hours and find it very birdy. Firstly, there were lots of Mipits about and Stonechats numbered somewhere between ten and twenty but were difficult to count due to constant movement between areas of broom. A single Whinchat was spotted before we got to the enclosure area. We plotted up here as it was also very busy with birds, mostly Chiffchaff and mixed Tits but a few Blackcaps were seen and a family group of Greenfinch. Two small groups of Linnet moved through and a couple of Reed Buntings were also seen before two Spotted Flycatchers were seen. We eventually found a Common Redstart before leaving only to find a second Redstart in the Broom close to the Centre Road car park.

Carrion Crow

Common Redstart

Spotted Flycatcher


The above ticks moved my year list to 239 so I have remarkably avoided my lowest year list total despite the limited time birding this year.

Spotted Flycatcher

Onwards and Upwards!

Sunday 11 September 2022

Dungeness day out

I've been a little busy of late with all the usual family stuff but managed to steal a couple of hours yesterday to visit the Red-necked Phalarope at Little Marlows gravel pits a nice reserve which was new to me. Lot's of Great Crested Grebe with chicks and some still displaying courtship behaviour. A couple of Kingfishers buzzed up and down the lake and a Grass Snake was a surprise before I connected with the tiny Phalarope out in the middle of the lake. It was very actively feeding and took a few short flights but sadly didn't come close during my stay.

Little Marlow GP

Today I had a planned day release and took the Jims down to Dunge arriving at first light. We started the day down Galloways where we found at least three Whinchat, several Stonechat and a couple of Whitethroats. 


We arrived at the sea watch hide to find none of the locals had turned up which usually means it'll be a slow day and that's how it began with just the usual action from Terns and Gulls along with a few small flocks of Scoter passing. I wanted to visit earlier in the week when winds were more favourable but find I have to take my free days when they arrive now not when the winds are right. After a while a few other birders arrived and the Skua action began with no fewer than twelve Arctic Skuas with several stopping on route to harass the Terns. The highlight was an adult Pom Skua flying east at around 8.30am . Lot's of hirundines were on the move and a Sparrowhawk also headed out to sea. Scoters and Gannets passed and we saw seals and porpoise too along with a single Guillemot and Oystercatcher.

On the reserve we saw a Great White Egret and Glossy Ibis at Boulderwall farm before eight Cattle Egret dropped into the field behind the pool. From Hanson hide we found two Black Terns, four Common Sandpipers, a Little Stint and another Great White Egret along with lots of Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Lapwing and Blackwits. It was also good to see winter ducks building with Teal, Wigeon and Pintails present. A Snipe was an easy target for the camera resting just in front of the hide.


Meadow Pipit



Year list now 236 and just two short of my worst year. 

Think I might be able to squeeze another day out this coming week too....fingers crossed.