Thursday 31 August 2023

One less House Sparrow in the garden

Yesterday a young Sparrowhawk visited the garden and was successful in taking one of my House Sparrows. It sat in the garden plucked the poor thing and then enjoyed lunch. Although it was in a dark corner I managed to open the kitchen window without disturbing it and grabbed a few images before it finished. After the snack it flew up into the maple before launching a second attack which was this time unsuccessful leaving the Sprawk sat in the rose bush for a while. Once it had accepted the battle was lost it flew to the tree where it sorted out the mess it had made of it's plumage before leaving for another challenge elsewhere. 

It's always nice to see a Sparrowhawk but I wish they would target the feral pigeons and leave the rest of the garden birds alone, guess they're just too big although the adult female had taken Collared Dove before.

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Oare marsh in search of Napolean

With a planned day off on Wednesday I picked up the Jims and headed down to Oare marsh in Kent for a mornings birding hoping we could catch up with Napolean the returning Bonaparte's Gull which returned some weeks ago. We got there for first, it was bright but very cold and we scanned the gulls on the mud at low tide without finding the target. We saw Curlew, Dunlin, Turnstone, Oystercatcher Redshank, Ringed Plovers and Knot out on the mud and scanning the East flood as we walked around we found a single Spotted Redshank hidden amongst the hundreds of Redshank. Large numbers of Blackwits and Golden Plover flew in from the Swale and two Spoonbill fed along the reed edges at the far end of the flood. More Dunlin, Ringed Plovers, Knot and Avocet were seen and two young Curlew Sandpipers were seen too to give our second year tick of the day.


Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard were seen before a Peregrine flew over the flood swooping and putting up most of the birds followed by a Hobby. Bearded Tits pinged from the reeds  and we saw Reed Bunting, Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Linnet, Chiffchaff and Goldfinch too on the marsh.Pied Wagtail, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Heron and Little Egret added more day ticks 


Reed Bunting

Reed Bunting


I walked out to West flood and found a Green Sandpiper and a Garganey which was nice. Turtle Dove, Wheatear and Whinchat were reported by people that walked other areas of the marsh but nobody reported seeing the Bonaparte's Gull so I guess it was feeding elsewhere today. Good to be out with the Jims but got home to news of an Aquatic Warbler at Landguard and didn't have the energy to make the trip up the A12 for it, let's hope I get another chance at some point as this is a bird I'd very much like to see but has become very difficult to connect with in recent years.

Year list now 213

Saturday 26 August 2023

Red-backed Shrike at West Canvey marsh.

I had to drive down the A127 today to collect some turf so I took the chance to visit West Canvey marsh arriving mid morning just after the Red-backed Shrike had gone missing. I found a Common Redstart, Whinchat and a Hobby whilst searching for the Shrike and after about ninety minutes I located the Shrike and enjoyed a couple of hours watching it feed mostly at some distance but on a couple of occasions close enough to get me interested with the camera.

I was joined by a few other like minded souls and helped a few get views of the bird until the third downpour got the better of me and I headed for the car and the journey back up the Southend Road for home collecting the turf on route which I laid late afternoon.

year list now 211

Interestingly this is the same place I previously had a juvenile (first winter if you like) way back in 2013 which gave me my best views ever of Red-backed Shrike.

Sunday 20 August 2023


Friday saw a Booted Warbler reported at Landguard which Jim still wants as a lifer but unfortunately I had plans involving the grandchildren so couldn't get him there but I did take him on Saturday morning hoping the overnight rain might have kept the bird down.

We arrived at first light to find it very windy on the point and we spent four hours searching the compound and surrounding areas but failed to find the target bird. We did year tick Pied Flycatcher and had lovely views of Lesser Whitethroats too. A couple of Willow Warblers and two Wheatears were the only other migrants we spotted apart from a fleeting glimpse of an elusive warbler that we couldn't fully ID but thought it to be a Chiffchaff.

A Ringed Plover out on the common was protecting its two very small chicks and we had a fly over Sparrowhawk and Kestrel whilst scanning for a very elusive Wryneck seen by only one person during the morning. The Common held a very large flock of Linnet and Goldfinch but overall what promised to be a good migrant day fell a little flat but it was still great to be out birding for a while.

Ringed Plover chick

Ringed Plover

I have recently contemplated the trip to Scilly for the Red-footed Booby but not quite got myself to cross the line and break my Scilly duck but I think it could be coming some time, maybe I'll get a week away down in Cornwall and use that as my opportunity to finally get over to the islands.

In other bird news I had a Sparrowhawk visit the garden in the rain last week and managed a picture through the kitchen window and my House Sparrow garden count has now exceeded 60.


Year list now 210

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Montagu's Harrier at Fambridge Essex

I needed, well needed might be stretching it a bit, I wanted to add Montagu's Harrier to the old pointless Essex list and with a bit of time to myself today I picked up Jimmy and headed to South Fambridge for 7am this morning. We walked down to the pillbox and scanned flushing Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and a Greenshank along the way. We found a Buzzard sitting on a bush, a Sparrowhawk took a Woodpigeon for breakfast and a couple of Marsh Harriers hunted distantly before I picked up a very distant ring-tail. Jimmy didn't manage to see it so we walked a mile or so along the sea wall hoping it might pop up somewhere along the way but it didn't so we returned to the car and drove around to North Fambridge. 

We walked a couple of miles along the sea wall spotting more Buzzards and Marsh Harriers, another Sparrowhawk and several Kestrels before we spotted the adult female Montagu's Harrier high up with a Buzzard for company. I drifted high from south to north across the river and was lost to view in the distance above the marina. Our next sighting was as it flew low across the river in front of us and hunted the sea wall on the south side but it gave fantastic scope views. It was seen twice more before we left at 11.30am

Some of the other species seen on the visit were Corn Buntings, Skylark, Barnacle Geese, Lapwing, Blackwits, Oystercatchers and Redshank in an enjoyable morning. I headed home with the Essex list now at 275 and the year list now at 209.

I got home in time to spend the afternoon enjoying the company of two of my grandchildren.