Sunday 6 October 2019

Humpback Whale at Rainham Marshes RSPB

Who says looking at gulls is boring? On Saturday 05 October 2019 just before opening time from the river wall outside Rainham Marshes RSPB, London a scan across the far shore of the Thames saw several Yellow-legged Gulls on the mud amongst the commoner large gull species. Our view of the Larids was quickly interrupted as RB spotted a large mammal surfacing briefly. Was it Bob a local bull Grey Seal?

It surfaced again. It was long, dark and the body looked almost scaly in appearance or like it had a "tyre tread" texture. Almost like the tyre tread of say a dump/tipper truck. You can just about see this serrated edge in the first photo below. Within this view it then raised its tail flukes before diving, revealing splattered white undersides to the otherwise dark-edged flukes. It lowered the flukes at the same time as the lower body. A Whale sp.

It slowly headed down river being lost to view on the last submerge west of the Dartford crossing. We tried to get the message out asap for all to witness such a remarkable sight, including experts who could then pick up on the news to monitor its health.

Here are some photos of the Whale. I believe the third shows its tail-stock.

What about the birding?

A lot of movement just before opening time, again from the river wall. Bearded Tits on the move, a group of 6 looked like they could have got up from the southern end of the reserve and they left high, calling as they headed N/NE up the Mardyke. Meadow Pipits trickling through and a few Chaffinches over, House Martins noted moving high and a few Swallows as well. Aveley Bay held double figures of Avocets a lone Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff with Teal numbers on the increase. In a warm spell during the afternoon up to 4 Buzzards were in the sky over the reserve with at least 2 others moving through, and a couple of Sparrowhawks kept an eye on the Buteos. Almost forgot, around 10 Yellow-legged Gulls on the Thames shore and a Brent Goose did a u-turn over Aveley Bay and headed west mid morning.

Whale Update - Tue evening

On Sunday its identity was confirmed by observers along the Thames as a Humpback Whale and it's health was monitored since by interested expert parties. It was found to beach on Monday and sadly found dead off Greenhithe late on Tuesday. A very sad end to a beautiful creature.

Tuesday 1 October 2019

The Rare Passerines to the, the Rare Waders to the left...five. The Rare Waders have it, the Rare Waders have it!

Wednesday 18 September 2019 and the Long-billed Dowitcher was showing well on The Moat at Fairburn Ings RSPB, West Yorkshire. Difficult light conditions to photograph and video this rarity from North America. A Cetti's Warbler called and a Marsh Harrier circled a nearby Flash. Back home on the South Yorkshire moorlands a skein of about 70 early Pink-footed Geese flew east late afternoon.

Thursday 19 September 2019 and up on the South Yorkshire moorlands Meadow Pipits were moving west throughout the day, a small trickle, and possibly a few Buzzards over as well were not local. A family party of Stonechats were nice to see as was a Wheatear.

Friday 20 September 2019 and a twitch out west. First up the 2 moulting American Golden Plovers on a pool at Lunt Meadows to the east of Liverpool. They showed well despite being chased around the scrape by Lapwings. A Common Sandpiper and Ruff noted with several Buzzards in the area. A nice surprise was a calling Raven flying over.

Up the road near Southport a Red-necked Phalarope was spinning away in between roosting Black-tailed Godwits as viewed from Nel's hide at Marshside RSPB. Whilst feeding it was trying to avoid a Black-headed Gull determined to chase it around the pool. All of this to a cacophony of returning Pink-footed Geese, and perhaps the surreal sight of about a dozen Cattle Egrets walking amongst the resting 'Pink-feet'.

Blackpool Tower, a year tick, could be seen in the distance, and I was soon heading that way where on the outskirts of the seaside resort a Pectoral Sandpiper, presumably of Nearctic origin, was to be found feeding on the edge of the small flood by the car park at Blackpool Wake Park. It was spooked on one occasion flying around the site giving a distinct 'preet' call, before settling back down. Of note were 2 more Ravens that flew from a nearby building.

Saturday 21 September 2019 and birding out east at Spurn, East Yorkshire where a Red-breasted Flycatcher showed nicely in the trees at the back of the Crown and Anchor car park, Kilnsea. Not much else in the way if scarce or rare migrants. Saw several Stonechats in the nearby Triangle where a Yellow Wagtail flew south. Double figures of Mediterranean Gulls (equal spread of 1st winters, 2nd winters and adult winters), joined Black-headed Gulls following the plough in fields behind the South Bird Observatory building. A variety of waders present on the quickly receding tide at the Humber shore. Migrant Hawker dragonflies showed well as did a single Wall Brown butterfly on the riverside path in the Kilnsea Triangle.

Sunday 22 September 2019 and a quick look on the moorlands produced a variety of birds ahead of a front slowly encroaching from the south west despite showery, muggy and misty conditions. Jays were obvious this early in the autumn, perhaps indicating an irruption year from the continent this autumn? A twitch to Old Moor RSPB for a local patch tick in the form of 4 Mandarin Ducks at the Willow Pool.

More photos at Latest UK Bird Photos.