Saturday, 22 November 2014

Rainham long walk x2

I try to do the long walk (3.5miles or so) from Rainham railway station to the RSPB Rainham Marshes visitor centre when birding Rainham at the weekend, and normally take the much shorter route to Purfleet railway station on leaving. Today (Saturday 22 November) I did it both getting there and coming back, and birding was not too bad at all.

On the journey in connected with several colour-ringed Herring Gulls at the Stone Barges with the imm. in the photo the only one discernible with confidence - U0JT. Perhaps locally ringed. Wintering Ruff at Coldharbour Point, a now regular Raven overhead onto the tip and a male Peregrine over Wennington. A smart winter plumage Grey Plover called in flight at Aveley Bay where it added to the variety of waders present that included Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Redshank and Lapwing.

We watched the river for most of the day from the centre's balcony. Not much movement despite or perhaps due to the dreary conditions. A Marsh Harrier crossed the river from Kent to Essex but was eclipsed by a distant Harrier on the Kent side that headed down river mid-afternoon in the mist. From what we could see we were leaning to it being a 'ringtail' Hen Harrier but it got away and out of view before we could give a positive id.

The long walk back ca. 3:30pm to catch the train just before 5pm at Rainham. A Raven was on the marsh near the MDZ and a Green Sandpiper called from out of sight on the landfill. Two imm. Marsh Harrier's frequented Wennington and a Kingfisher belted past at Rainham 'West' (no pun intended). Main reason for doing this route back was to look for SE Owls just before dark from the public footpath. None showed over the Silts or nearby. Bad timing or is it simply that they are either not in, or have they been lost as a 'winterer' in this area?

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Marsh Harriers and the Wandering sentinels

How many Marsh Harriers at Rainham Marshes RSPB? Three 'cream crowns' on Saturday 15 November 2014 comprised 2 immatures and an orange/red wing tagged adult female type. The latter probably from the Stour Valley, Kent was not appreciated by one of the imms. and the local nagging Corvids. A 'cream crown' present a week before distinguished by missing inner primaries/secondaries was not on show, and the same goes for the adult male with the wonky leg.

A pair of Peregrines peered down on Rainham Marshes RSPB during Saturday, and on Sunday 16 November 2014 two of these white-breasted sentinels looked down on the hordes of tourists oblivious to their presence on London's South Bank. A male swooped on pigeons at Blackfriars station at dusk but was unsuccessful, heading back to its lofty perch in disgust.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Cyprus Sep/Oct 2014

Cyprus trip report added to 'Birding Trip Reports - Other'. Enjoy. It was a nice trip with lots of good birding, and the Eleonora's Falcons were simply superb!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Rainham Kronker

Back at Rainham on Saturday 01 November 2014. Highlights being what I thought was a 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull at the Stone Barges, but feedback suggests Caspian or Caspian influence. A photo below, and more at the 'Latest UK Bird Photos' page, Also, of note was a resting Fox on the landfill, several Stonechats, double figures of Cetti's Warblers and not to forget my first London Raven which appeared flying over the centre then made a beeline for us on the riverwall as it flew upriver towards the landfill.




Saturday, 25 October 2014

Surfing Holkham Bay


Saturday 25 October 2014 and back on the train followed by Coasthopper bus to north Norfolk. Arrived at Holkham at 11am and headed for Holkham Bay. The drake Surf Scoter present at distance with a couple of Velvet Scoters for company. Single Common Scoter nearby plus Auks and RT Divers. A lone Snow Bunting flew over west calling. I walked west as well and inland to Burnham Overy Staithe. Over the marshes were several Buzzards, Marsh Harriers, Kestrels and an imm. Red Kite made an appearance. Pink-footed and Brent Geese flocked.

Coasthopper to RSPB Titchwell. Wigeon and Teal dominated the freshmarsh and there were lots of Ruff there as well alongside roosting Golden Plovers as well as Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit and 4 remaining Avocets. The sea was quiet but the shoreline held a variety of waders inc. Bar-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover.

Noticed in the log book a flier for Richard Crossley's book signing (of The Crossley ID Guides fame) on Sunday 26 October at the reserve. Well worth taking in if you are in the area.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Lost in Leuven, Melancholy in Mechelen and Legging it in Liege



A non-birding weekend watching footy with fellow Owls in Belgium. Friday 17 Oct saw us based in Leuven for the weekend. A beautiful university town east of Brussels. A few beers and a snack in town during the afternoon and then off to see OH Leuven v Excelsior Vitron in the evening. Arriving just in time for KO, after walking the scenic route. OH Leuven let a one goal lead slip and a 1-1 draw resulted from this 2nd Division clash which was noteworthy for a very vocal "shrieking" supporter sat just behind us!



Saturday 18 Oct and on the train to Mechelen. Looked bigger than Leuven but very similar in style with the main square being a draw for tourists and locals alike. It was warm at least 20 degrees, very unseasonal. Word coming in on the interweb of the Owls poor performance at home to Watford. More Belgian beers cheered us up and we were off to see a 1st Division match (Pro League), the locals KV Mechelen hosting Anderlecht. Another 1-1 draw resulted and as the night before the home side let the game slip. A cracking atmosphere.



Checked out of the Park Inn and soon off to Liege on the morning of Sunday 19 Oct. No time to see the city of Liege as after the rail trip from Leuven we legged it the couple of miles or so from the out of town railway station to the further out of town stadium home to Standard Liege, located in an industrial estate. The stadium was more typical of the modern day compared with the previous two venues, but this one was vertigo inducing. Very steep and we were right at the top! Standard Liege were poor and after the goalie dropped a cross in the first half they were 1-0 down in this match against bottom of the table Zulte Waregem. The locals weren't happy. We left after about 70 mins in order to make the train back to Brussels and then the Eurostar to the UK with some of the gang staying a further night in Genk instead to see them play later that evening. Not sure on the outcome of the Standard Liege match because after we left two stoppages followed due to protests by some of the home fans against their manager. Standard Liege were 2-1 down at the end, but did the result stand as the last stoppage was at 90 mins?


A non-birding trip but I did note a decent movement of Redwings and Song Thrushes overnight on the 2 nights.








Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Rainham on Saturday & Burnham Norton on Sunday

Rainham had a nice variety on Sat 11 Oct 2014. A walk from the Stone Barges area produced Ringed Plover (15) and Redshank (50) on the mud to the west of the Barges, and Coldharbour Point held a single Ruff amongst the rocks. A minimum of 9 Stonechat on the walk were noteworthy (inc. 4 at Rainham West). The marshes saw us connect with 2 Peregrines and 4 Marsh Harriers (3 cream crowns)  and roosting Greenshank. Migrant Hawkers continued and 7 Harbour Seals rested on the Kent side of the Thames.

I was tempted by twitching the  Norfolk Steppe Grey Shrike despite the timetable for Thameslink and Coasthopper doing their best to thwart me on Sun 12 Oct 2014. It came on as negative then back on as being seen at around 08:30. I took the plunge, well the train from London's King's Cross (10:04) to King's Lynn, then waited ca.1 hour for the Coasthopper arriving after a walk from Burnham Market at 14:15. I had one hour with the Shrike, a stunner in the picturesque backdrop of the north Norfolk coastal marshes. Pink-footed and Brent Geese were in the air and Cetti's Warbler sounded off by the coast road. Made it back in time for the new series of Homeland! Back of the net!

Photos of the Shrike uploaded at 'Latest UK Bird Photos' and video now on Surfbirds 'UK Birding Videos (Surfbirds)'. Enjoy.