Wednesday 9 September 2015

Rainham 'colour-ringed' Black-tailed Godwits

The sign that autumn birding was on its way came in the form of the passage of waders through the UK over recent weeks. Rainham Marshes RSPB, London held a variety including a long staying Wood Sandpiper during August 2015 with Common and Green Sandpipers sharing Aveley Pools. Dunlin and LR Plover completed the small ones here and Greenshank, Ruff, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits were bigger ones present. Not forgetting a handful each of Whimbrel and Curlew favouring the Thames shore or Purfleet Scrape.

Main focus on the 50 or so strong flock of Black-tailed Godwits roosting and feeding in the shallow water of Aveley Pools sporting a variety of plumages. A turn over of birds during August with at least 4 colour ringed individuals. It's been fun and a challenge at times to identify their combinations as the strong light, heat haze and distance to the flock proved problematic.

With thanks to the help of JG and JA - UEA, BP - Iceland, HTV and RB - Rainham Marshes RSPB, and apologies for any omissions,  here is a summary of the colour ringed birds with a couple of record shots thrown in. Check out the excellent work carried out by the ringers at

Bird 1 (Red Lime - Green Lime)

Debate about the lower ring colour. Looks like the above combination is favourite. Female ringed in Iceland in May 2010 wintering mainly in Sussex, UK with sightings in Hampshire, Kent, The Wash and the inner and outer Thames Estuary. Seen at Rainham Marshes RSPB in August 2015.

Bird 2 (Yellow Blue - Green Green flag)

Debate on combination as well, likely to be as listed above. Male ringed in November 2012 in Portugal, wintering there in subsequent years. Observed in Dordrecht, The Netherlands in March 2015. Seen at Rainham Marshes RSPB in August 2015.

Bird 3 (Lime Green - 'Dark')

Possibilities being considered. Await further details.

Bird 4 (Red White 8 - Yellow Red)

Adult male ringed in Iceland in July 2010. Wintering on the Swale Estuary, Kent, UK since. Seen at Rainham Marshes RSPB in August 2015 (and still present on 05 September 2015).

Sunday 6 September 2015

A secretive big Egret, slow East Coast birding and Moorland Raptor magic

August Bank Holiday saw me twitching in Yorkshire:

To the south I connected with the long staying Great White Egret in the Wath Area, 'Wath tick' number 186. It was hiding away in the eastern corner of Wombwell Ings, a ridiculous feat in itself in this flood basin.

Two trips out east 1) 'Spurn' produced Red-backed Shrike at Kilnsea and Little Stint, Spotted Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits near the main Beacon Pond. Passage slight, nice to see a couple of Spotted Flycatchers. 2) A late afternoon/early evening seawatch at Flamborough once the rain had cleared was slow on Bank Holiday Monday despite the wind having turned NNW overnight. A lone Manxie, 3 or 4 Arctic Skuas, several waders including Whimbrel south were highlights.

The best to last as on Tuesday 01 September 2015 'skywatching' on the South Yorkshire moors saw my dad and I connect with 9 species of raptor, the star being an Osprey slowly gliding south over the moorland edge drifting towards Sheffield (11:35-11:45) at our first stop. Earlier a passage 'cream crown' Marsh Harrier lingered for a while. Buzzards, Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk were present and an immature Peregrine was perched up at distance. Joined by DS at the second stop early afternoon and as the air warmed more raptors took to the sky. At least 4 Buzzards regular around a peak with attendant Kestrels. A Hobby skimmed the tops of the heather for insects occasionally catching them at height as well, eating them on the wing. A stately Peregrine glided by not flapping once. A 'speck' persistently mobbed it. This was a feisty Merlin and was ridiculously tiny when side by side with the wanderer. It persisted with its dive bombing for several minutes before exiting stage right in a fast glide down towards 'Terra firma'. Just before leaving the Red Kite shown below gave us a fly past heading away from the moorlands. Fantastic to see a variety of raptors in an area that has suffered from a decline of these stunning birds. No doubt the change in weather to a partly sunny day, warmer than the weekend and a light NW wind prompted a bit of passage.

More photos uploaded at:

  • Latest UK Bird Photos
  • Butterflies
  • Dragonflies
To come: Black-tailed Godwit 'colour-ringing' sightings from Rainham Marshes RSPB, London, UK. Watch this space!