Serin,Isla's middle name...

Serin,Isla's middle name...

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Our Unbeaten Run Has gone

AFC Hornchurch's unbeaten run of 18 months in the Monthly Darts Match against Dagenham & Redbridge has gone.Leading 6-1 just before the Half time curry was served,The daggers stormed back,winning 8 of the last 9 to secure the trophy back from the now suicidal Urchin players.As captain i have to take some responsibility,especially as our only player to win in the second half of the match was 10 years old.
As it was a Christmas special,we themed it with a curry (not that thats anything different from the usual),this time it was cooked by the players from Hornchurch and the boys hit the spot.
Earlier in the day,we took the nipper over to Rainham Marsh for a spot of Birdwatching,although we didn't actually do any today as it was a bit too windy when there,so we scoffed ourselves on sausage rolls,toasties,chocolate cake and isla gave the seal of approval to the Rainham Marsh Victoria Sponge Cake,which she wolfed down with a slice of cucumber,very strange eating habits has that child of mine.She saw a couple of ships going by and learnt a few more new words,one was Kestrel,which she saw hovering from inside the Visitor Centre,the other was Howard,as Rainhams Mr Howard Vaughan was filling up the feeders for the finches to come and have a nibble.We attempted to go for a little stroll around the reserve but after about 5 minutes we realised it was pointless as Isla struggled in the wind with her baby pram and just decided to have a little lay down every 2 seconds.We decided to go for a drive and ended up around Orsett,where Isla learned another couple of words,namely Buzzard and pawtwidge (partridge),the Buzzard was a beautiful Common Buzzard that was sitting in a field,it then took off to land in a tree nearby,then around the next corner there was 14 Red Legged Partridges in another field,other birds of note were a small flock of fieldfare,Redwings,goldfinches another Kestrel and a few rabbits.Not a bad total considering we didn't actually "go Birding" always good to have a drive into the country with the family.
Football news,two days until we go to Canvey for our next important game against old rivals Canvey Island,we are due a win there but it will be hard as usual,then on the 2nd we have a top of the table clash against Lowestoft who are currently 2nd,win those two and it will set us up nicely for the Second half of the season.COME ON YOU URCHINS

Monday, 19 December 2011

An interesting few days......

Been a few days since i Posted a Blog Entry,been busy with work as its leading up to Christmas,my first Christmas working by myself for Direct Car Services.Today i have been down in Brighton to see my Sister,Brother in Law and Nephew Jake,went down with My Mum,Dad,Auntie Barbara,Alice and the Nipper who spent most of the day causing all sorts of Aggro in the Brother in Laws boozer.We had a nice slap up christmas meal,my dad got plastered and was irritating and i was sober and drove.A good day with good food,happy day and i also got to see the Starling roost at the Old Pier in Brighton,along with a Peregrine who was stalking them and way out a couple of Common Scoters wizzed by,apart from that not much else to report as it was raining and for the most part miserable but at least it looks like its cleared the Very cold weather we have been having which was causing all sorts of problems for us drivers.
Yesterday i popped out with Carl & darren for a few beers in the Afternoon before heading down the Football Club as i was quizmaster at the AFC Hornchurch Christmas Quiz night.I smashed it basically,provided a hardish quiz and my mum and dad didn't win,happy days.
Saturday saw AFC Hornchurch continue their fine form of late with a 2-1 win over Aveley at the Bridge,we are still 3rd but 4 points behind the leaders Billericay with a game in hand and we have to play them next on the 27th.Should be a good game and if we can win it will put us in a good position for the Run in in the second half of the season.I booked my Train Ticket to Grimsby last night £41.00,going at 8.30am on the morning of the match (14th January) getting to grimsby at 11.50am for beer and fish and chips,should be a good day out in all honesty.
On the Birdwatching front,i have no more trips planned before the New year and have more or less resigned myself to the fact that my year list will remain at 227 which is dissapointing but 20 more than last year.It is only dissapointing as i was on 210 in june and only managed to add another 17 in the last 6 months but this is mainly due to not really having time for Birding.Next year,i should be able to get out a bit in January/February as its a quiet time for the airport runs,will see how we get on........

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

We're going to Grimsby Que sera sera

Can't really comment other than to say how proud i am of my little old Hornchurch
The 14th January sees us travel to Grimsby Town FC,the biggest stadium we have ever played a league or cup game in,personally i cant wait and i believe enough has been said,i think we can win 2-1 and will be drawn away at Luton the round after,winning 6-1
You heard it here first.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Bonnetts Owl Please

One is becoming extremely frustrated at the inability of the local Barn Owl population to turn up at Bonnetts Wood at the same time as my good self.Ok,because of work,i've not been able to get over there as much as i was earlier in the year but when i do these naughty little creatures seem to avoid me at all costs.I know they are there or there abouts,i have seen one on site a few times but not for a while,although i have seen at least two birds within a mile or so of each other,ironically on the same journey,one flying towards bonnetts and another about 2 minutes later around Belhus woods,and no they were not the same bird,i was going too fast for them to catch me.While these views are lovely,i want to see it perched on a post or Quatering in the fields on or overlooking Bonnetts,perhaps i need to spend a bit less time working and more time birding,i wish!!
Anyway,in my short spell at Bonnetts tonight there was quite a bit of activity,plenty of winter thrushes are now on site with 16 redwings,11 fieldfare and 2 mistle thrush seen,also i had a kestrel hovering over the field and 2 snipe flushed from the field,if i had better footwear on i may of wandered further in the hope of Woodcock which are regular in winter on the site.A Buzzard came over the site and dissapeared towards my house and 27 parakeets headed south towards Parklands.It then got a bit too cold & dark for my liking so i went home to get ready for my next job.
Earlier in the day,well at 4am i got up to find what must of been the tail end of the overnight storm,not as much destruction as i thought there would be and the Dartford Bridge was open,which i didn't think was a good idea in the strong winds but it was fine,i got back around 11,ready to take my two girls to the Hutton residence in leafy Pilgrims Hatch,on the way there we encountered a large herd of Roe Deer in the fields around Weald park,isla seemed taken with them shouting bambi and then thumper???? is there any connection between the two??
On picking the girls back up from the Huttons,a handyman was on hand (Jennys Dad) putting back up the stairgate that Isla had ripped off the wall,the little hooligan,A Buzzard was seen over the field at the end of Ed's road,In Lincolns lane,was 6 Red Legged Partridge,a little further up the field i thought i saw a Grey Partridge,unfortunately i couldn't stop to check a definate ID but i currently have no work in the morning,so i guess i will be heading over that way to have a look as they are pretty much non existant in Southern Essex and it would be a good record,fingers crossed for the morning!!!

Monday, 12 December 2011

DUNGE YEAH

Got up at 5.45am this morning for the Boozy Birders Trip to Sunny Dungeness and Sunny it was although a little bit nippy.Not too many on the trip due to other commitments and illness (get well soon Sam!)but those who did make it were treated to a bird bonanza courtesy of Big H,Howard the Cat Vaughan,Penduline Tits are this mans Speciality and he didn't fail in coming up with the goods.
But first things first,macdonalds at Ashford where i smashed the granny out of a Double Sausage & egg Mcmuffin meal,complete with the complimentary Hash Brown & Small coke.
After this we made our way to Dungeness or DUNGE as its known in birding circles,an RSPB reserve in South Kent,not a million miles from Folkestone but far enough that car crime is not an issue! We started off in the ARC Pit and the Hanson hide,first bird of the day when pulling into the car park and exiting our cars was a Great White Egret,a first for a couple of us,my second of the year (had one over my house at about 5am one morning after an airport run back in the summer if my memory serves me right but i can't be bothered to check my book).
We headed towards the hide,entering all the usual suspects were in view,ducks,herons etc etc,a quick scan by the boozy massives produced a female Long Tailed Duck,good numbers of Goldeneye,plenty of Marsh Harrier activity and a nice sparrowhawk hunting near the hide.
We then decided to head to the lighthouse and beach in search of the Glaucous gull and as per usual Big H comes up trumps,some seawatching produced plenty of great Crested grebes,the odd Diver and Auks,kittewakes etc etc.After this we went to the visitor centre and for a walk around the reserve,it was at this time that i found out the News of the Day,that should Hornchurch beat Farnborough we will be going to Grimsby Town in the FA Trophy,smell my fish,but more about this later.
After a couple of shortbread biscuits purchased from the visitor centre we proceeded to do the circuit,we found another Great White egret,in the distance and we would find this bird later on (or at least we thought it was the same bird but it may of been another,such is the fest that is GWE in DUNGE.)Other birds of note was a lovely Bittern in the smashing light,plenty more Marsh Harriers,but by now all i could think about was Grimsby Away,more of that later.
We then decided to spend the lasy hour or so back at the ARC pit where within a few moments of arriving we had Smew,we stayed for a while but the weather looked like closing in so we thought we would check out the reedbed round the back for the penduline so we went for a wander,upon reaching the reedbed H's phone went off,the Penduline was back at the hide,so off we went,me at 40mph and it was me who first reached back at the hide.the penduline was there not 10 feet away from us on the mace giving cracking views,well worth the day out and glad i went as usual.the drive home was knackering,by the time we reached the tunnel i was absolutely shattered and ready for bed,its now 11pm and i havent been to sleep yet and i am up in 5 1/2 hours for yet another airport run.
As for grimsby,we have to beat Farnborough Wednesday at their gaff and then we play at a big boys ground,the first time since last week when we lost 4-1 to colchester but that was the Essex Cup in front of 300 people,the Trophy is a bit different,COME ON YOU URCHINS

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Birds but no Birding

Still haven't really had any time for Birding yet,although off to Dungeness and surrounding areas Monday with the legend that is Howard Vaughan and those crazy Boozy Birders,wonder if there will be any Pendulines knocking about,am sure these storms may ship in the odd unusual sighting or two.
Got up at 6.30am as i had to take someone from China back to Heathrow,picked him up at 7.15 from Brentwood Station and had the usual 2 hour plus trip round the wonderful M25,what a cracking road,only in this country could we add an extra lane,not bother tarmacing in it,and leave potholes all over the road,i bet the IOC are really looking forward to coming to this forward thinking country next Summer.......NOT.
Anyway,getting round the M25 around junction 22 (st albansish) i had 2 buzzards in the air,quite early in the day,was probably not later than 8.30am but they seemed to be enjoying themselves in the wind!
About 40 minutes later i (sorry we) were rewarded with a lovely Red Kite around Gerrards Cross,an increasingly regular sight,that you probably wouldnt of seen 10/15 years ago,definatly not 30 years ago,welcome back my friend.
Another piece of good news is that apart from the Birds,i may of just converted our first Chinaman to AFC Hornchurch,he certainly seemed interested in our probable Wembley visit in the FA Trophy,of course once  we have taken care of Farnborough Saturday and the rest of the Non League in the next 4/5 rounds,come on Hornchurch,you can do it.
On leaving Heathrow,i headed southbound to sunny Lakeside for a spot of Christmas Shopping,not for anyone else but for me,nice warm coat and a nice pair of waterproof lined trousers,perfect for the Boozy Birders Trip to Norfolk in the first week or January,will be good to get my year list off with a bang.
1 Shop was enough for me so i headed home about Noon,as i was washing up i looked out the window to see the Little Owl sitting on my garden wall,looking over the Pub Car Park,although i live in a town its not the most unusual place for Owls,we have Tawny heard regularly and both barn & short eared Owl have been seen within a mile of here,it also helps to have farmland all around and the Ingrebourne Valley across the road,i assume that the Grey Wagtail i had on my garage roof had come from there.This evening i went to work,earned a bit of dollar and narrowly missed a Badger on the way home in Ockendon,back off to Heathrow tomorrow afternoon although i am sure Alice has a trip to Tesco's in store for me beforehand.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

More Neglect for my blog

Have probably managed 5 days birding in the last 6 months.Been so busy starting the business up that my birding has had to suffer.
Did manage a trip up to Suffolk with Howard and the Boozy Birders last Sunday,we got to Ness Point Lowestoft at 8am,briefly stopping for a double Sausage and egg mcmuffin meal en route.
On arriving,the sea was rough and a storm was approaching,as i had only had 3 hours sleep due to work i decided to take the opportunity to have a sleep,honest,it was nothing to do with the weather,which i am glad to say picked up after an hour or so.Purple Sandpipers were the order of the day,i saw 3 before i drifted off,then we left for covehithe,where still tired i decided on more sleep but not before i had a single waxwing on a post next to a bush.
We then went to Minsmere,a short stroll to west hide produced marsh tit but little else,a knot was a nice bird as was the usual wildfowl/waders from the hide,we then heard of 7 cranes,which had flew south,so decided to have a look down towards North warren,unfortunatly no cranes but 80 plus white fronts,some tundra bean geese were good compensation.The others all went looking for Owls,i decided on a bit of a rest before driving home,they had a single barn owl.On the way home we had what looked like a Tawny Owl but can't confirm 100%
Should get my lap top back tomorrow after repair which is the main reason for me not updating my blog,hopefully i can keep it working and keep this updated.

Oh and Hornchurch,we lost last night,first defeat in about 12 games and we are currently 3rd,5 points behind billericay but it is close at the top and we have them away on the 27th December,away is where we are best.Big game Saturday 10th,at home to Farnborough in the Trophy.COME ON HORNCHURCH

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

My Neglected Blog

Hi chaps,its been a long time but getting my business up and running has meant i have not been able to get onto my computer to log anything,it has also meant i have had no time or very little for birding.
Have managed a few highlights though,got a text last Tuesday from Shaun Harvey saying that him and Dick Jeffries had a Temminks Stint over the Ingrebourne Valley,so off i shot to get the bird which obliged for the hour or so that i was there.It turned out to be a fruitful trip in more ways than one as i took a few business cards with me and managed to get a couple of phone calls and bookings the next day,cheers!!!
Have only made a few visits to Bonnetts Wood,the latest was last night for half an hour where i saw 2 Yellowhammers,Little Owl,heard 3 m cettis,Great Spotted woodpecker & a Mistle thrush.There seemed to be a lack in warblers last night compared to a few weeks ago but it was dull out and maybe they were all having a little break for the evening.
Am off to the Farne Islands on Friday,back Saturday night,got a boat trip booked and hope to see seabirds,puffins etc and terns and have also had a tip off for some woodland species like Pied & spotted flycatcher,wood warbler to name a few,we also hope to get some upland species with grouse and ring ouzel being high on the list of priorities.
As for Hornchurch,we finished the season with a 2-0 home win over Maidstone but results in the previous weeks meant that we were out of contention for the play offs,a dissapointing season in all honesty but we will bounce back next season and i fancy us to go up.
As for the Business,it is quiet at times but have only been up and running a few weeks so i shouldnt expect too much although at times it threatens to go mad,the minute it does it slows down again but i am taking bookings daily and next week i am going to go all out to advertise it more.Will speak to you when i get back from the farnes with my trip report.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Spring is here

Hello my blog friends.
Sorry for the lack of entries but the computer is still broke,so i am round the olds using theres reporting the interesting and not so interesting.
Since my last visit spring is well under way,with the last two days seeing temperatures around 21c,its like summer here and the temperatures are supposed to stay the same for the next couple of days,its a good time to be out and about.
Tuesday i popped over to the reservoir/fishing lake near the paddocks at the western end of Ingrebourne valley and its the first big numbers of hirundines i have seen with c50 sand martins and 4 house martins over the water along with a single Swallow,couldn't stay for long as i had nipper with me so we popped over Bonnetts for a walk in the pram but after 20 minutes it was apparant she wasnt enjoying herself so we left after seeing another swallow,4 cettis(males) and a green woodpecker.
Yesterday(wednesday) i went back to the paddock/reservoir to see if any had turned up,mainly looking for migrants.I bumped into Graham Thomlinsons mate Andy who asked if i was the Upminster Birder,i replied yes (notoriorty at last).He had seen 2 Green Sandpipers over the Valley,nice birds them sandpipers.We then decided to go over to Bonnetts wood for half hour or so where we had a couple of Male cettis calling,green woodpeckers,herons,2 kestrels and a nice Whitethroat which was my first of the year,Andy had a blackcap but i was too busy on the phone to the Hornchurch chairman talking about our poor run of form of late along with some idiots who support our club that grass on people lol
I went back over early evening for what turned out to be a more productive session,where i had 1 Buzzard,Barn owl,5 Cettis males and i thought i heard a Reed Warbler but after many minutes searching nothing turned up,back over there in a minute to see what will turn up but will have to give it a miss this evening as i have a comittee meeting at the football club.
As for Football,we should be in a play off spot but our inability to score goals is costing us dear as is our inability to defend properly.We are down to 11th but remarkably still only 4 points off the play offs with 5 games to go so it is possible for us to still get in,but we have to win saturday at home to carshalton (if you are not doing anything,come down,i will be on the gate selling the 50/50 tickets) and then away at our rivals Canvey Island,we must win both of those games and see where we are then.
As for work,i have finally been granted my operating licence so i can operate and take my own bookings for the 9 seat(8 passenger) vehicle i have bought,it is a Renault Trafic Passenger Sport and only a few months old so pretty new and very clean,I will be doing Aiport runs,theatre trips,Sporting event,rail transfers and any General cab work with competetive rates.So if you want to use me (please!!!) let me know on 07531 088777 or 07889 273756

Cheers
Rob

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Been a long time Folks

Morning all,its been well over a month since my last entry on here.I haven't neglected the blog,just havent really had time to post on here,plus my computer is absolutely knackered and i don't have the money to get it fixed,plus putting entries on via my i phone is time consuming and hurts ones eyes.
My birding has also suffered lately,but this is usual for me to take a couple of weeks break from mid feb as i tend to over do it the first few weeks of a new year.Not much to add to my year list,had 2 Red Kites over the M25 near the M40 and then another 2 further down the M40 towards London,hopefully these birds are extending their range,funny really as i dreamt last night we had a population over Bonnetts Wood,odd!!
As for Bonnetts,i have only been there twice in the last few weeks,neither time did i have anything of any real interest,going to try and get over there next week to see how spring is kicking in there.
The Other two reasons for my lack of birding are AFC Hornchurch who until last nights defeat at Hendon FC who play at Wembley Fc we had been doing quite well,snatching a draw in the last minute on Saturday against Leaders Sutton United,who for some reason decided to all go mental after the game as they didn't like it,ensuring that a bit of non league footy violence ensued,pathetic really but it was something to talk about.The other reason is that i have been busy getting my Private hire Licence and yesterday Bought a Renault Trafic Sport Passenger 9 seat vehicle as i will be starting up my own Luxury minicab service called Direct Car Services.I will be focusing on Airport Runs,Theatre Runs,Sporting Runs etc etc but will also do the local stuff as well,at least until the Airport side of things is Booming.Should get my Operators Licence through in the next 3/4 weeks so once i do you will see the name DIRECT CAR SERVICES Plastered everywhere.Speak to you all soon.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Bonnetts Bonanza

Had a late start over at Bonnetts this morning,which turned out to be a fruitful mornings birding and fruitful if you like being attacked by dogs salavating at the mouth,i hate jack russells.
Got over Bonnetts about 9.30,driving up to the usual spot that i park at,i had no less than 75 blue & great tits feeding on the road,in what must of been a spillage of some sort,probably seed.There were also dunnocks,finches and robins at the Banquet.I parked up and from the car could see 2 Goldcrest in the shrubs next to me and many finches in the woods trees behind gerpins lane.
On making my way to one of my usual view points,although cold i got the feeling that spring is getting ever closer,from reports we could well have temperatures up to 16-17c by wednesday/thursday although tomorrow is supposed to be freezing.From the usual vantage point i could hear Many skylarks,i counted 7 but there were at least double that in and around the field,the noise was fascinating.In the fields also were 35 Stock Dove,2 red legged Partridge which actually flew out of Bonnetts,pheasant and many many Wood Pigeons along with a couple of rooks,a good start,after about half hour with nothing but a Cormorant and a few Greenfinch i had a flock of 18 siskins,in amongst them were 3 Lesser redpolls,cracking stuff,this i thought would do me for the day but walking back to the car i saw something out the corner of my eye,at first i thought it was a greenfinch but under closer inspection it was a chiffchaff,my first for the year and a site first,happy days.I trudged off home happy as a hornchurch fan who gets 3 points against hastings tomorrow,Come on Hornchurch

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Hammertime

Popped over Bonnetts this morning about 8am,don't know how but I managed over two hours over there even though it only felt like I was over there for half hour or so.On getting out the car I was greeted with 3 Goldcrest and a flock of around 20 goldfinch.Straight away after I saw 2 mute swan and about 30 Canada geese flew south.Other birds of note were a Kestrel,a few greenfinch and lesser black back gull.then I had 4 yellowhammer,the most I have had their recently.This evening I went to Hornchurch to watch our reserves win 3-0 in the semi final of the cup.Off out again in the morning,probably back over bonnetts.Sorry for the briefness of my blogs but my pc is buffered and it is hard work on the I phone.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Simply the best

Just watched officially the best team in the world beat Barcelona,yes Arsenal have beaten Barcelona in the first leg of their champions league tie.We should of won 6-1 in my unbiased opinion.Barcelona have lost one game all season to Heracles who I believe they have since beaten to up until tonight become best in the world,now arsenal are,well until Sunday when wenger will put a weakened side out against orient and they will probably beat us,then they will become the best team in the world.But then surely Hornchurch would be the best team in the world because the last time we played orient we beat them 5-1 at the Bridge.As for Hornchurch,our game against aveley was called off Tuesday night and we are 11th now but still only 5 points from the play offs with games in hand.
Went over Bonnetts Wood this afternoon for the first time in a couple of weeks,was only over there an hour or so but managed 2 yellowhammer,great spotted woodpecker,green woodpecker,4 siskins,kestrel and a mistle thrush along with the usual stuff.My mouth isn't too bad now,I am down to 2 painkillers a day now as I only get the odd occassional pain and hope it will feel a bit better in the next couple of days,just feels strange having a tooth missing.
Going to give Bonnetts a go in the morning for a few hours tomorrow,it's getting to the time when the first spring migrants arrive,well still a few weeks to go but who knows a wheatear may turn up early,you never know,just like football

Monday, 14 February 2011

Out at last

Thank god,the Bastard Tooth is no more!!!
I woke up this morning after what can only be described as a shite nights sleep.At 3am I was still awake in agony sitting in bed trying to think of new songs for the mighty Hornchurch' eastside to sing at Tuesdays home derby against Aveley or Daveley as we call them.By 4am I was driving down to BP to get some fags,by 4.15 I think I was asleep.
Anyway,I got to the dentists at 12.15 with only a moderate pain due to my new friend nurofen who I have somewhat warmed to recently.I was put under a local and sent back out to the waiting area,after 15 minutes I was called in to "try" to get my tooth out.After 15 minutes or so it was obvious this wasn't just going to be a plyer job,this required a drill and the tooth being split into two.I have proudly kept the tooth as it's my first one out since I was a kid and hopefully my last.
After a few hours of heavy bleeding and not being able to feel my face I felt a but better but not well enough to go on the boozybirders trip to the new forest in the morning.At least I will be watching the mighty Hornchurch tomorrow night and I may be able to sing my new song,the Hornchurch version of Harvey dangers flagpole sitter I wrote last night while in pain

We are red and we are White
And we are going so many places

Won't put anymore as I am sure non off you give a flying flipflop

Saturday, 12 February 2011

OH BOLLOCKS

I won't go on too much tonight as I am still in a thoroughly crap mood after watching the mighty Hornchurch crash to a 2-0 defeat to fellow play off hopefulls and local rivals Billericay.This was the all day piss up I arranged which I couldn't drink at because my tooth is a nasty tooth and is still hurting despite two days of relative harmony since my last update.We played ok first half but then decided to play total garbage second half.I haven't been birding for ages now and am becomming totally pissed off with this tooth,going to go back to the dentist Monday and if he or she (whoever they choose to wheel out this week to treat me)doesn't sort something out,I will not be the only one having a tooth removed.Will try to go birding tomorrow,quietly confident that I will get a bit done!!!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

I am still here

To all my followers and non followers,I am still here.I have just been very quiet due to a gammy tooth which is still not out despite two visits to the dentist since my performance at the anaesthetic clinic last Thursday.Anyway,since then I have only really been out to watch football as I haven't had the motivation to get up early to go birding as apart from last night I have been in total pain all night and waking up like a zombie with all the drugs I have been putting into myself to try to rid me of this awful pain.It shouldn't be long now as I am waiting for The London Hospital to give me an appointment to have it out by general anaesthetic.I am on mind bending Metronidazole which is interesting at the best of times.Anyway,back to football,we drew 1-1 with 2nd placed Bury Town at home last Saturday,goal scored by Duane Jackman who returned to the club after a year or so away,top player.Tuesday night we visited Sutton united,who are leaders,we got beat 3-0 although we played well and all 3 goals were scored in the last 15 minutes,we are away at Billericay Saturday in a must win game and the lads are going on a bit of a beano meeting at upminster by 11.15am or Romford in time for the 11.56am train to billericay where we are then going to the pub to watch the mancunian derby,then off to get 3 much needed points hopefully.Although I will be on this beano,unfortunately I will be unable to drink due to my medication.Tonight I went to watch the reserves,we won 4-3 in the presidents cup and now play Colney Heath in the semi final at home next Thursday,new boy Franckie the Frenchman scored the 4th and looks quality,will see how I feel in the morning,but hope to have a little birding if I feel ok in the morning.Next Tuesday a few of us are off to the New Forest on a birding trip,hoping to see my first great grey shrike and maybe a wandering White Tailed Eagle that has been seen.A couple of things to look forward to the next few days,come on you urchins!!!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Tooth nearly out

So today was the day the annoying bastard of a tooth was finally coming out!!!!
Started the day with a walk over bonnetts wood for an hour or so to take my mind off my pending operation.I only lasted half hour or so as my mind weren't really on it as I was thinking about my teeth as I hate dentists and especially operations at dentists,so I came home.Think i managed to see a couple of Goldcrests and a few skylarks among the usual birds but that was it.
I got home and had a couple of hours messing about with the nipper before setting off to have my tooth out,I got there at 2pm and within 5 minutes I had an x ray.All was going too well,I was then called in for the op,they explained everything and put my mind at ease,then they tried to find a vein but this in turn was a problem,eventually after trying a few they found one,the next thing I know I am being led out the room to the resting area,it seemed it was all over and I felt alright apart from feeling off my face!!
Then Alice broke the news to me that I hadn't in fact had my tooth out as while sedated I had apparently lost it and become too violent lol,she also said the last thing I said while going under was asking if any of the dentists were spurs fans,one bloke said yes,I can only assume this led to my outburst.Alice also said that when I came round I said "not her,she has a ferret in a cage and tormentsme with it,don't let me go home with her" then I also said about the pretty assistant " I want to go home with her" very strange but I wondered why when off my face in the resting room after she kept smiling at me.Dint recommend having teeth out but the drugs are top quality

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

We are Hornchurch from the bridge

Started the day off over Bonnetts as per usual where I saw good numbers of Redwing,lapwing,fieldfares and starlings.Also had mistle thrush,18 goldfinch,11 long tailed tits and 28 waxwings,which went towards parklands but after half hour of searching i couldnt relicate them also had s stoat as well as the usual birds.This evening I went over to the bridge to watch the mighty Afc Hornchurch,we started the game poorly and it went downhill from there with Margate grabbing the lead deservedly.It stayed 1-0 at half time and we didn't
Look any better just after half time but gradually we got
Into the game and grabbed the equaliser after around 75 minutes,after that it was all one way traffic and super Lewis smith grabbed the winner on 90 minutes,Lewis smith is better than Torres fact,and the new French geezer looks a decent player as well.Big game on Saturday at home to Bury Town,win that and we are right back in the mix for promotion.Come on you urchins,sadly only 175 fans turned u tonight,our worst crowd of the season

Monday, 31 January 2011

Dartford or Bust

Got up a bit later than i had liked this morning but within 20 minutes of waking i was up and out,off to the Ingrebourne Reservoir to see the possible ring necked duck hybrid reported yesterday.It was very easy to find as a couple of birders were already there and dave and gerry put me onto it straight away,we had good views of the bird and stayed there for a good 40 minutes,we also had 4 White fronted Geese on the reservoir along with Pochards,tufted ducks,Great Crested grebe to name a few.I also had a Yellowhammer on the southern edge of Bonnetts wood when i was parking the car to get to the Reservoir.It got me thinking that when the extension of Bonnetts wood is complete,it may give good views over the reservoir,giving more birds to see.
I then decided to head to Ripple NR where a Dartford Warbler has been seen for the last two days but on arriving there it was obvious it could be a bit of hard work as there is some work going on and it was very noisy.


I have never been there before but it is a lovely little site surrounded by houses and on one side a road which runs next to marshland and then the Thames.We didn't see the bird but had a nice walk round and saw a few birders,all looking for the Dartford.Birds we did see were good numbers of Tits,blackbirds,robins,chaffinch,magpies,pigeons a couple of Wrens and Great Spotted & Green Woodpeckers.After an hour or so i left as i had to get home.After lunch we took the nipper out to the swings,she seemed to enjoy herself on the swing as you can see.

After that we went for a drive,seeing a Peregrine first then off to Thorndon CP where we were lucky enough to see a Tawny Owl through the woods onto a post,a cracking bird and a new one for me this year.Margate at home tomorrow night in the Ryman Premier League but i hope to get a bit of birding done in the day first,may pop back to Barking and have a good 2-3 hours over there this time.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Let's all laugh at Tottenham

Was a funny old weekend with no birding whatsoever due to football and a sick missus.The weekend started with me off to Gatwick early Saturday to pick Gary up who has been on a cruise,we got back around 12 and then over to Hornchurch to watch us beat Horsham,unfortunatly the players didn't read the script and we were beaten 2-0 by a shit team who had 2 shots on goal all game,scoring with both of them.Don't think we have played that bad since we lost 7-1 to tonbridge in October.Got our old friends from Margate coming down to the Bridge on Tuesday and we must win that game.
Today I woke up with the intention of doing a bit of local patch birding but what with alices tonsillitis and the Australian open tennis final being on the birding took a back seat for the first time this year.Murray lost in straight sets and then I remembered Arsenal were playing so I shot down the LT club to watch it with Fingers & Youth along with my Nipper all kitted out in her Arsenal clobber,we won 2-1 and were a bit lucky.Then it was off to see my mum and dad or granny and grumps as they are known to the nipper.Firstly we settled down to watch Man city grab a late equaliser against the mighty notts county,then it was the great ESPN comedy 90 minutes as Fulham smashed the hapless Tottenham tosspurs 4-0,meaning unless the deluded fools win the champions league then their poxy superstition of winning something when the year ends in 1 will have gone tits up again,better luck next year

Friday, 28 January 2011

Bonjour Franckie

Started the day off watching Tennis with the Nipper,watching the Super Scot Andy Murray win in 4 sets.The missus was shopping and then she had to go to the doctors as she has now been diagnosed with Tonsilitus,so thats two of us on penicilin at the moment,albeit mine is more serious as i stand to lose a tooth.
I popped over Bonnetts Wood after lunch,which consisted of a bit of Jerk Chicken from Tescos,nice chicken but not much Jerk in it.
On arriving at Bonnetts i decided to head back to the Wooded area i found yesterday,2 wood pigeons and a Goldfinch was all that i saw on what became an occuring theme for the Afternoon.On coming out the woodland i took some pictures of the Reeds,or lack of them.I am no expert on reedbeds and although these are only small,very small in fact,the have held Reed,sedge,Grasshopper & cettis warbler in the past although unless they spring back up they won't be holding anything this spring.
 

I don't know if anyone reading this knows if the reedbeds will recover but if you do let me know.In some pictures they look quite thick but i can assure you they are not.
I decided after this to go to scan the fields as i didn't have long left,about an hour,apart from 3 Stock dove,a couple of Greenfinch,2 Chaffinch,tits and a Goldcrest my bird of the day was 2 House Sparrows,only my second for the site and a year tick for the site.I went home to find out that The Mighty Hornchurch have signed a Frenchman who goes straight into the squad for tomorrows game,Francky Koudaya who has played for Huddersfield town & accrington Stanley this season already,quite exciting really,if you are not doing anything tomorrow pop down to see if the chap is any good.£9 is a good bargain.May get a bit of birding in early before football tomorrow but will wait and see.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Its Cold Outside

Popped over Bonnetts in the freezing cold this morning,got over there just after 8am and made sure i was wrapped up very warm,even so,i was freezing all morning,despite having two sets of socks on inside my wellies,which were well used today.
I started off in Parklands Car park where i had 4 mallards,5 Moorhen,2 Coots,3 Cormorants and the usual tits,plus 7 Ring necked parakeets.I then crossed over onto my patch,the now legendary Bonnetts wood.Today turned out not to be about specific birds but numbers and large numbers of thrushes in general.I went up to the higher ground near the horse paddock to see if there was anything around and i straight away had 2 Pied wagtail and a few chaffinch,then a large flock of Redwing,probably around the 40 mark came down and i watched them for a while before another larger flock of around 100 birds joined them,Redwing explosion at Bonnetts.They didn't stay long though as a Large Female Sparrowhawk put them all up back into the trees,another large flock appeared and went in to the Alder trees but these were Fieldfare and around 50 of them.Then in the farmland far out another Fieldfare flock landed,around 80 birds followed by a small flock of 20-30 Linnets in the same field.Pheasant numbers were good as well with 8 males and 5 females seen throughout the morning.The usual gulls were over the fields as well,at least 20 black headed gulls and a few herrings and 3 Lesser Black backed gulls were a late addition.A jay flew into the woods as did a Green Woodpecker which could then be seen at the top of one of the biggest Alders.
I decided to scan the fields again to see what was in the distance,52 Stock Doves were way out and 3 Red Legged Partridge were also seen.
I then decided to move down by the Bridge and to explore some new land which i haven't been onto before,to be honest i didn't know if the Forestry commision owned the land but i thought i would have a look anyway,glad i did.It is a little piece of woodland but very wet and boggy,straight away i flushed a Woodcock out into the open,next was a Great Spotted Woodpecker and in the distance i could see good numbers of Redwing,Chaffinch,Goldfinch feeding on the floor,I could also see Moorhen and a couple of Mallards but as i got closer these dissapeared.I went as far as i could before it got too boggy and turned back.


The top picture is looking into the wooded area from the Bridge,the next two are when i got through the wooded area into the flooded area,will go back and investigate more tomorrow.
On leaving the woods i decided to call it a day for the morning anyway,on the way back to the car i bumped into the local ranger for the site and asked him a few questions about the site and the proposed extension i have heard about,he confirmed that it would be starting late summer and should be open by the end of the year and will comprise of some new woodland and pathways,i should imagine there will be some grassland areas,at the moment it is just earth piled up high as it is an old landfill site but it should make Bonnetts wood more diverse and hopefully within 10-15 years alot more birds will turn up,what with the older part of the site maturing all the time it promises to be an exciting future at Bonnetts.
I went back over to Bonnetts around 3.30pm for an hour or so to see if anything else was about,i was a bit worn out from nipper running me ragged round the house for 3 hours,little nutter lol,anyway,i had a lovely Kestrel and a goldcrest as soon as i got there,didn't see too much for the next hour as i was either talking or it was just freezing cold and all the smaller birds had probably seen sense and hid away for the rest of the day,it really was a horribly cold wind.Anyway,i decided to have a look by the bridge and while i was on my way there i noticed a large bird on the telephone wires,at first i thought it was a crow but it was actually a Buzzard just looking darker and small as it was on the pole,as soon as it flew up you could see its size and it was a cracking way to finish off a nice few hours at the site.I won't be making any early morning trip there till at least Sunday now,maybe even monday as i have a busy weekend ahead,although i may try to get over there late morning tomorrow.
                                                         

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Spot the Bittern

Sorry i haven't been on here the last couple of days,have had a bad tooth,went to the dentist on Monday to have an X ray on it as it had been causing me all sorts of problems and still is,the result is that i have to have one tooth taken out although until i get there they are not too sure whether its my wisdom tooth that needs to come out or the one next to it,no wonder the NHS gets such a bad name,clueless is the word.
Although the pain was quite bad on Monday morning,the invention of cocodimol has somewhat made life easier and not restricted me too much.I went over Bonnetts Wood early on Monday,in fact at 6.30am as my tooth woke me up,as it didn't start to get remotely light until about 7.30 i spent an hour wandering around in the dark looking or hearing what was about,not too much to be honest,certainly no signs of anything untowards,this changed somewhat once it got light as at about 9am i had a Female Merlin fly over the site on its way to Ingrebourne or at least in that direction.Other birds i saw that morning were Green & great Spotted Woodpecker,Greylag & canada goose flying over,4 Rooks,3 Pheasant,2 Red Legged Partridge,22 Cormorants heading towards Parklands in dribs & drabs a massive number for parklands,only usually see 4 or 5 over there,12 fieldfare,8 Redwing and 48 Stock dove in the field.As i was leaving i had a Goldcrest by the Car park and a Kestrel over head.I went back again about 3pm for a couple of hours where i had 42 Parakeets,another site record for me,the most i have had is 27 before,also 42 Fieldfare and a male sparrowhawk.
Tuesday....One other thing though,i took this picture below on Monday,I know Upminster has some good schooling but i didn't know we had intelligent Horses who can read signs!!!
                                                              
I went on another Boozybirders trip to Dungeness and the surrounding areas led by Birding Guru Howard Vaughan,we set off at 6.15am and headed down to Dunge picking up Howard en route,we arrived just before 8am at the ARC pit car park,the same place where we actually finished the day.En route to the Car park we had 8 Whooper Swans and approx 53 Bewicks in the fields just before the car park.After we all met we went down to dungeness,near the lighthouse to do a bit of seawatching,we could of stayed there all day such was the action,it was unbelievable and something i have never seen before on that stretch of the coast.As soon as we arrived we were rewarded with views of a Female Merlin flying across the Shingle,then about 20 Red Throated Diver went south.As we approached the beach we could see hundreds if not thousands of auks stretching as far as the eye could see,guillemots & razorbills,i have only ever seen large numbers like that in northunberland when i was a youngster so to see that many birds was totally amazing,everywhere we scanned there were more and more,there were also many Gannets & a few Kittewake which just added to the experience.We watched them for half hour or so before driving to Dymchurch to look for reported Northern Long tailed tits,for you non birders,Northern Long tailed tits are not beer drinking,wife beating long tailed tits but the same as our Long Tailed tits but have full white heads where ours have a white streak instead,on the way there we stopped to look at the bewicks again and also had 3 Marsh harriers.We got to Dymchurch and couldn't find them so headed back to the car,as we did Howard spotted one in a tree and we all just about managed to get onto it,another 10 minute of the area couldn't relocate the birds so we decided to call it a day and head to Dunge.We arrived at dungeness in search of the Glossy Ibis but once on the sight we were told it hadn't been seen for a week or so,shame but thats the way it is with birding and i have seen enough this year already.We pulled into the car park and most of us headed to the loo as it had been a long morning,i say most of us headed to the loo but this was in fact because the loo was near the feeder where tree sparrow had been seen and we all managed to get it without too much problem.After Lunch we headed around Dungeness where the first bird we had was a Smew from the hide,as well as Goldeneye and the usual ducks.Next was a Beautiful Slavonian Grebe which certainly caught the eye of Tony who went back later to get more shots of the bird,i am sure a beautiful relationship is on the cards!!!,we left and went to another chance which had smew and a few golden birders who had been looking for black head grebes???.As we left and walked we saw a large bird out towards some Pylons,it was a Raven,a quality bird for the day and one you wouldn't of seen in that area 10 years ago,but we did yesterday,we also had 2 peregrines to add to our impressive list.
Next we headed to another hide where Black necked grebe had been seen,we got it with no problem,another magnificent bird,we stayed viewing the pit for a while before leaving and continuing the circuit.We then had a lovely Male Marsh Harrier and decided to view it from a raised bit of land,as soon as we got up there i found a bittern which i was a bit slow in calling as i wasn't sure if it was a bittern or marsh harrier to start with,but seconds later another bittern flew out the reeds and i called it straight away lol
We walked back to the car park now all content but still hoping for maybe a dartford Warbler but no such luck although we did hear a Song Thrush who was trying to sing but probably just felt a bit too cold to come out with his full repertoir.Next to the ARC Pits,we had some redhead smew(female) and Goldeneye but we had come to see A Drake Smew,in fact we saw 2 and i found them both,well chuffed as its nice to pick birds up when going on a trip with experienced birders,Drake Smew (male) are lovely birds,the redheads are lovely but the drakes are stunning,i don't think the people of the UK who don't bird realise the beautiful birds we have on our islands but they are here and in good numbers.Our final bird of the day was a Bittern,which we actually had before i found the Smew but we also saw it after,just after another Marsh Harrier was found.The Bittern was originally standing in shallow reeds about 15 foot from our hide and stayed there for a good 3 minutes before heading to thicker reeds,we then looked from another angle where we found the bird again lying horizontally in the reeds,they are so hard to see as they are so well camoflauged.I have a rubbish picture taken from my scope and i phone underneath,i know they are crap but thats all i can take with at the moment lol,not sure you can see too much of it lol.All in all a wonderful day and once again many thanks to Howard who manages to see anything there is to see and much more.
Told you it was rubbish,but anyone who can blow up rubbish pictures like that may just be able to see it lol
As for today i have booked my tooth removal service for next Thursday and spent an hour or so over Bonnetts Wood and didn't really see anything apart from a lovely Water Rail and a kestrel,apart from that it was very very quiet although the forestry commision people were there and i did speak to them over their plans for extending the site,more on that when i have got some more details off them,back over there at first light tomorrow morning though.
                                                                        

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Pinky sort of velvety day

Today was the day when I went on my eagerly awaited trip to North Norfolk with the Boozybirders,led by Birding Guru Howard Vaughan of Rainham Marsh fame.I woke up at 4.45am and made the short journey to Brentwood to meet up with Graham Thomlinson(father of Hornchurch legend Andy and another keen lover of ze birds),I was very tired as nipper decided to keep me up all night and I only got about 3 hours sleep,little darling.We made the way up to Thornham Harbour,stopping briefly for a sausage sandwich in sleepy Hunstanton and arrived about 7.45am.As we got out of the car,we were informed that we had just missed the Northern Harrier by about 1 minute,looks like the sausage sandwich was responsible for us dipping on this bird,but dipping on birds is something the boozybirders don't take too kindly to so we soldiered on in the drizzle to glorious titchwell,one of Norfolks premier birding reserves.Once at Titchwell the weather picked up,or at least stopped raining,almost as soon as we got there the bird fest started with Whooper Swan,Barn Owl,Water Rail,Redpoll all seen in the first 5 minutes past the visitor centre.We carried on up the walkway towards the beech scanning the vast areas of the reserve picking up Hen Harrier,Marsh Harrier,skylarks,waders,geese in fact it was more a case of what didn't turn up,there were 3 drake goldeneye seen with at least 2 females,waders included spotted redshank,ruff,godwits,dunlin,redshank, turnstone and oystercatchers.We carried on and were rewarded with Twite,feeding with skylarks,meadow pipit and water pipit all cracking birds.We then headed to the beach in the now glorious sunshine.


We stayed on the beach for around an hour and was rewarded with cracking views of Common Scoter,I didn't count them but there must of been 5-600 maybe more with the odd Velvet scorer thrown in for good measure with Eider,slavonian grebe,goldeneye,red brested mergansers all seen on the sea,10 Snow buntings was another cracking addition as were sanderling which got to within about 10 feet of us.We then walked back slowly towards the cars,stopping every now and then to scan on the off chance of seeing the Northern Harrier but with no luck,we decided to go to Cley,another big gun on the North Norfolk Coast so it looked like we had dipped on the harrier,but after a quarter of a mile of the journey to cley competed (about 2% of the journey),we was flagged down by a happy Howard who informed us they had the bird,so I jumped out the car and was straight on it,only dissapointment was that not everyone got to see it,so let's hope it sticks around,anyway seems like a perfect opportunity to go back soon!!!l
On our way to Cley we encountered 3 more Barn Owls,2 in a field and one a mile or so further on,will post a picture of one of the barns when it is sent to me by Graham(if you are reading this,can I have a copy lol)
We pulled up at Cley and made the shortish walk to the east Bank,where the American Wigeon has been seen,we got it as soon as we arrived,a lovely bird and s lifer for me,also at cley in our brief stay was a whooper swan,plenty of wildfowl and a female sparrowhawk.By now it was about 2pm so we headed to Burnham to try to catch up with the Rough legged buzzards of which are wintering in the area,we arrived,parked up and got very muddy walking to the viewpoint,we had views of a pale common buzzard and then was told where one of the rough legs was which was grately appreciated.As soon as we got to our viewpoint we were given some info that two birds had been seen on the dunes,we got on them straight away.By about 3pm the light was starting to fade but the spirits wasn't,thousands upon thousands of pink footed geese were all around us along with the Brent and waders and we continued watching the rough legs,geese and harriers right until it was time to leave,even on the walk back we had 4 waxwings which was a cracking way to end the trip,a nice bit of fish and Chips in Swaffham finished it off nicely on the way home,a cracking trip and great company,off to bonnetts early in the morning,I know it won't compare but I will have a go!!!!
Pictures of some pinkies,albeit on my crappy i phone
Oh and it looks like i made the right decision to go Norfolk instead of Football away to Carshalton in what was by all accounts a pathetic game of football in the 0-0 draw,which probably actually favoured us being the away side and above them in the league.COME ON YOU URCHINS

Friday, 21 January 2011

A Very Brief Visit to Bonnetts this morning

Had a very brief visit to Bonnetts Wood this morning in glorious Sunshine,albeit a little bit cold.I had a walk through the ever growing woodlands to see if i could flush any woodcock,snipe or Jack Snipe out of the long grass but nothing was doing.In the wooded areas were plenty of Goldfinch,a flock of 23 being good number for Bonnetts,with them were 6 Chaffinch,4 Greenfinch a small flock of 7 Long tailed tits and a couple of Redwing.
Over the Farmland were 2 Kestrels about 500 metres apart and as usual plenty of Black Headed Gulls with the odd herring thrown in for good measure.A Lesser Black Backed Gull was also out there and a Grey Heron Flew over towards Rainham.Good numbers of Blue & Great tits as usual and a lovely Great spotted woodpecker was in the Willow by the Bridge.No sign of any big rapters but i wasn't over there too long as i had to get home as the missus was going out.I get home and she is not going out now so we are going to take Nipper someone,at least it will give our house a rest as she has wrecked it the last couple of days and continues to keep saying whooooosethat at everyone who comes on the tele or at any photo she tries to pull down,got a feeling she is going to be a right handful,anyway,looking forward to my trip to Norfolk tomorrow and hopefully a few rareities.Certainly going with the right person to find them,step forward H....

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Its a Peregrine,i tell thee

Spent a few hours over Bonnetts Wood today,in two stints.I started off around 9.30am over there but it was very quiet,in fact it remained very quiet all day,but this doesn't neccesarily mean that there will be nothing over there,as i say,it was quiet this morning but i did still manage 2 kestrels,a Sparrowhawk,Green Woodpecker the usual tits & finches including 22 Long tailed tits,these were actually across the road in gerpins lane,next to the tip,there was alot of birds feeding on the ground including Chaffinch,Greenfinch,blue tits,Great Tits,blackbirds and 1 mistle thrush.I have often seen Sparrowhawk going in here and will be checking it out further.I left Bonnetts around 10.45am and came home.
I have decided to concentrate my Patch list to Bonnetts Wood this year,i will still be doing year lists for Ingrebourne & Rainham but as i may be doing alot of birding in between jobs when i start work i need somewhere where i am only 5 minutes from the car in case i have to dash off to a job.Also i really enjoy it over there and you don't get the amount of dog walkers at Bonnetts as you do Ingrebourne.
I went back over there at 3pm and immediatly bumped into Les Harrison who is another local birder,who has some fantastic shots of birds i have seen.We walked round to the top of the hill as Les was heading back to his car,it was still quiet but we decided to go through the bushes,as soon as we did we flushed a Woodcock out of the bushes,a good year bird for the site.I walked a bit further with Les past the Alders & other trees but nothing else.I carried on on my own and set up scanning the fields,plenty of black headed gulls out on the fields,50 Skylark were flying high.Other birds were 8 Stock Dove,2 moorhen and a pied wagtail.
I then decided to set up for the last half hour or so to look over the fields and trees for any other sightings,maybe the odd Owl.For some reason,i started scanning all over the back of the woods,i usually do this but not as far as i did today,something stood out and straight away i saw a bird,A Peregrine,i watched it for a while before moving towards it by a couple of hundred yards,then i tried to take pictures of it through my i phone and through my scope at 60 magnification but the picture was rubbish.
Anyway,i went home after that,on the way back to the Car i had a lovely goldcrest making it 3 new birds for the day on bonnetts wood,i have started a Website for Bonnetts wood at http://bonnettswood.webs.com/
to put all my sightings on there.I am not very good with anything technical so if it looks rubbish please let me know,in fact if anyone has any suggestions i would be grateful.
                                                 

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Rainham or Bust

Just a quick entry before i set down to watch Leeds United aka Dirty Leeds V Arsenal on the box tonight,not having Sky Sports its nice to see a bit of live footy on the tele,especially the mighty Gunners.
Popped down to Rainham after i had been to the Doctors,who have assured us the Nipper is fine,best to check! She has actually perked up this afternoon,actually she has been a right handful since i got home,tearing everything in site,the other night she tore a page out of my Collins Bird Guide,naughty little rascal.
Anyway,back to Rainham,was a nice sunny afternoon and on arrival we was informed of some white fronted geese,we checked from the centre and there were a couple of birds way out next to some canada geese,there were 2 that looked like white fronts but as i found out sunday there are greylags with white front,from that distance we couldnt be sure,we went around anti clockwise,starting off around the woodland area where we had a lovely female Blackcap along with the usual tits & finches and the odd thrush.Moving round we had good views over the reserve and there were some very skittish birds,Graham had a Merlin but i didn't get onto it quick enough but it must of been as at that point the birds were going mental and no Peregrine around.Starling numbers were in the Thousands,many on the Electricity Wires.We headed to the New hide where we spent an hour or so watching 19 Ringed Plover,Lapwing,Teal,Wigeon etc.The geese we saw from the hide were Greylags with their White front Gear on,canada geese and possible Pink foot but i couldn't get a good enough view on it although the bill looked ok,thats about all i could see to ID it.
We decided to head back via the seawall but one last scan over Aveley Flash produced a Female Stonechat,my first Stonechat of the year,they seem somewhat scarce at Rainham this winter.Checking the Thames on the way back just produced the usual gulls with a few Redshank on the other side.
We went into the visitor centre where i jumped on a slice of chocolate cake,job done,then i went home,or at least that was the plan,driving past Bonnetts Wood and it was still light was an opportunity too good to turn down so i decided to have a mooch about for 45 minutes,unfortunatly it more or less produced nothing,no Sodding owls once again,may try again tomorrow,until then got a difficult decision to make,Saturday Hornchurch are away at Carshalton but there is a birding trip to North Norfolk with Northern Harrier,American Wigeon,shorelarks,twite etc etc etc etc & etc on the menu,i know where i think i will be going and its nowhere near Sarf London...


                                                           

Ooooor Kestrel Manouveres in the semi dark

Woke up bright and early,cold free or at least my body was.The missus phoned in sick at work as the nipper still hasn't shaken off her cold and we are taking her back to the doctors at lunch time because she has what sounds like a smokers cough (she doesn't smoke,she is 10 months old)
While they were both still asleep i decided to sneak over to Bonnetts Wood before first light to see if any late night owls were just getting home after a night out on the tiles.No such luck but i did have a few other birds in the 2 and a half hours i was over there.The first bird i had was a Kestrel on the telephone post which then flew up and hovvered over the long grass,it dissapeared not to be seen again for an hour or so,probably had a bit of brekkie.This was followed by 3 cormorants in the space of a minute flying towards parklands.I then had 3 Green woodpeckers and a lovely Song thrush,the same bird as yesterday i would assume.I then had 21 Ring Necked Parakeets,obviously also going to Parklands where they seem to annoy the local residents with their constant squawking.
2 redwings flew over followed by 3 fieldfare.There were plenty of Jays around,i saw at least 5 and heard another couple.In the distance over the fields were 30-40 black headed gulls.I moved further along by the stream,below are a couple of photos from this morning,somewhat different to last night lol

Other birds seen were 4 greenfinch,4 Chaffinch,blue tits,great tits,2 moorhen,lovely large Female Sparrowhawk,3 Rooks,Great Spotted Woodpecker and a few Rabbits.I ventured down to the pond (above) and there was a Heron there although i am pretty sure there is no Fish in the Pond.
After this i went down to the back field where i had another 12 fieldfare and 8 long tailed tits
18 Stock Doves flew over towards the tip.2 Mute Swans flew towards and over the tip and i had in the distance 2 Shoveler which landed in some woodland where there is a small pond,the first i have seen at the sight.6 Snipe flying over was my final birds for the morning and a good way to finish.
Anyway off to take the nipper to the Doctors,although she seems to have livened up this morning and is crawling round the flat saying her new groovy catchphrase of "whooosthat" whenever she looks at a photo of anyone,once down at the doctors i am off to Rainham Marsh RSPB for the afternoon with Graham Thomlinson (father of Hornchurch Legend Andy Thomlinson),laters for now...
                                                             

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Nearly a Spring day

Ok,i may be getting carried away withe the Spring bit but io woke up this morning for the first time in over a week without a runny nose and the sun was out,i decided to go to Rainham Marsh today,got there and the Sun was out,it almost felt like a spring day,albeit a cold one.I decided to walk Clockwise round the Reserve,in fact i went to the New hide and then came back again but on the walk there and while i was there i saw some interesting birds.Walking past the next hide to be constructed i had a Kestrel overhead and then a bit further down i could hear the Skylark,i love hearing Skylark when the sun is out whatever time of the year and it made it feel somewhat springish.2 Corn Bunting and a flock of 40-50 Linnets were around as were 3 Meadow Pipit.Still no Kingfisher for me this year,had hoped to get one today but no such luck,must try harder.I arrived at an empty new hide and a quick scan over the very high water on both sides of the hide produced thousands of ducks,the usual suspects,wigeon,teal,shelduck,shoveler,mallard,tufteds and at least 8 pintail,9 ringed plover were way off on one of the spits as were 4 snipe although i was told there were 14 on one island near the Ken Barrett hide although i couldn't see them.There were around 40 Golden Plover with hundreds of Lapwing.Out the Back were the Wildfowl,not many waders around that side.
I stayed in the hide for a couple of hours but all in all it wasn't that busy,i thought there may be more waders but it may be because of the high water.I decided to head back along the sea wall,again,nothing apart from a pair of Great Crested with Redshank,a few Dunlin and Curlew on the Far Bank of the Thames.
I then headed over to Bonnetts wood,arriving at 3.30pm with a nice sunset over the trees(pic Underneath)
There wasn't too much going on with no Owls or Kingfisher yet again but i did have 3 Green Woodpecker,1 Great Spotted woodpecker,1 song thrush,moorhen,Heron,8 linnets and a fox,i stayed there till 5pm when it was dark so sodded off home,cold.Supposed to be the same weather tomorrow so i will have to have some more of that,hopefully a few nice birds will turn up,maybe the odd owl.                                                      

Monday, 17 January 2011

Just a Quickie

It finally stopped raining here in dreary Upminster around 2pm by which time i just had to get out,i am not one of those who can sit indoors all day unless i am watching footy or Test Match Cricket so i though i would have a couple of hours down at Bonnetts Wood this afternoon,hoping for Owls and a Kingfisher.
I must say,that although i hope for Owls i very rarely see any,apart from Little Owls which are quite common,well as common as they could be round here.I hear Tawny Owls around here but they are a bird you don't often see.I haven't seen Barn Owl around here for 7-8 months now and that was just a very brief glimpse and before that it was a year or so since my last sighting.Both sightings have been in or around Bonnetts Wood,there is a refuse tip next door and i saw 2 fly from Bonnetts over the tip where we lost them,the Ingrebourne Valley has the odd report of Barn Owl as does Rainham although i did hear that one bird which was a regular broke a wing a while back and was unable to fly so i would assume it perished,sad as i love Owls.
On arriving at Bonnetts one thing stood out,the amount of water around,i knew we had had alot of rain the last week since my last visit but didn't expect everywhere to be flooded,the long grass which is usually damp soggy ground in the winter with tufts of grass and often holds snipe and woodcock was like a lake and the little brook which runs from parklands was like a small river,still didn't get the Kingfisher though.


I set up overlooking the Farmland hoping to see quite a bit before setting down at the south end of the area to laterly look for owls,on the farmland i had 4 red legged partridges,10 down on last week!! A green Woodpecker was back and forth in the area and a Kestrel was hovering over the farm to the north.Apart from the odd greenfinch,chaffinch and tits that was it apart from a cettis warbler i heard in the distance.2 Mute Swans flew west as i was about to leave and go to the other end.I set up about 3.50pm but by now my feet were getting cold inside my wellies,i found a new way to keep them warm,stand in water,it worked,after 5 minutes my feet weren't cold,i just couldn't feel anything!!!
I then got talking to a bloke walking his dog who lived on the same road(gerpins lane),he asked what i was looking for so i told him,he said he often gets Barn Owls in his garden and on xmas eve he said he also had a Little Owl,he said he doesn't see the Barn Owl that often,about once or twice a week!!!
That would do for me,so i stood there for another hour before deciding that i wasn't going to see bugger all today and headed off home,i left bonnetts wood and travelled back home past Parklands,while coming round the bend something to the left of me(over the farmland i look out to from Bonnetts) flew behind some bushes,it was white but due to the light that is all i saw,not even a second had passed,i don't know if it was a Barn Owl or a gull but i have a hunch it was the former but i will find it soon,maybe tomorrow,maybe another quickie trip to Bonnetts,as for tomorrow,i haven't worked out where i will be birding,it is supposed to be a reasonably nice day but money is tight so i might just have to stay local,should be starting work again in a few weeks so need to get as much birding done as possible before then.

Bloody Computers

My computer is experiencing difficulties with the most trivial of tasks,which is why i have not posted anything on here since Thursday,but don't think it's been quiet as that is certainly not the case.
Starting on Friday and overnight there were reports of a Slaty Backed Gull at Rainham discovered late on Thursday i believe by Dominic Mitchell who i met briefly when i saw the Grey Phalarope back in December,a belated thanks for that one and for this.
Slaty Backed Gulls are from Asia,i believe Japan to be one of their hotspots,i am not a gull person to be honest and i would never picked up such a bird so hats off to anyone with the patience to do so,it certainly has caused quite a stir with debates on Birdforum reaching nutters proportion,there really are some nutters out there who go birding or more so twitching,although i am pleased to say not everyone is the same.
Anyway,i started the day at home and while on the phone to Alices mum and holding the baby in my other arm i noticed at least 6 Waxwings in the Apple tree at the bottom of the garden,within a second or two a couple of psycho Magpies with double attitude had come down and frightened them off,naughty,naughty very naughty.Since then 25-32 have been seen in Sainsburys Car park in Hornchurch with all sorts of puns about collecting treble nectar points.Anyway,off to Rainham i decided to go,i originally wasn't that bothered about the Slaty backed Gull as i have said i am not a gull person,it all gets too confusing for me but i decided to head down to that area anyway to see if anything was around.I managed to get the Little Owl that Shaun Harvey had told me about in Launders Lane,cheers Shaun.I then proceeded to coldharbour lane where reports were coming in that it had been seen,i saw all the Twitchers there but carried on driving past as there didn't look like being too much going on to be honest,i parked up half a mile or so near Aveley bay and after 20 minutes or so of scanning the Thames with nothing of note,i bumped into a poor lost soul who couldn't find the crowds for the Slaty Backed,i said i would give him a lift and as soon as we got there we were rewarded with magnificent views of the bird and the crowd was only about 40-50 birders,on Saturday well over a thousand turned up.The arguements continue to rage on Birdforum about is it or isn't it a Slaty Back but most of the people in the know seem to think it is so i am ticking the bugger until told otherwise,since then i have been reading up on gulls so i may just make a gullet yet,certainly alot more interested in them now than i was before.
Saturday,Me and Graham Thomlinson (father of AFC Hornchurch legend Andy Thomlinson) met up about 11am at Brentwood with no definate plan of where to go,my plan had been to go to Upminster common early in the morning and then on to meet Graham but that plan was scuppered with me feeling like shite due to a heavy cold but i couldn't sit indoors all day so i decided i should still go out for at least the afternoon as AFC Hornchurch were not playing till the Sunday.We decided on East Mersea and off to Cudmore grove we went,probably not the best choice seeing as soon as we arrived we was struggling to stay on our feet with gusts in excess of 30 mph probably higher,we walked to stone point and set up there for a while with views of an Eider duck being the only thing near enough to get our scopes on in the Blackwater.We checked the flats and there were good numbers of Dunlin,curlew,oystercatchers and redshank,along with a Purple Sandpiper which is a year bird for me,there were about 30 Brent Geese in the field next to us but nothing to compare to Old Hall last week,we had a few flying in off the sea as well,probably about 250 birds seen in total.We then decided to move out of the wind behind a bank right next to the water,this turned out to be a good idea as over the next couple of hours we had 2 Slavonian grebes,at least 2 Red Throated Divers a Hen harrier way out and just before we left 2 Red Brested Mergansers,there were probably more but it was so hard trying to keep focused we just settled for what we had and with the weather as it was it wasn't a bad haul.We walked back to the car getting another 50-60 golden plovers and Sanderling.
We left the Island and decided,even though the light was going to be fading soon to go to look for the Hawfinch we had seen briefly last week but after 20 minutes or so there was no sign neither of the red kite either.The only other plus note for Saturday was that Arsenal spanked West ham to give me local bragging rights although on seeing the game the opposition really isn't up to much.
Sunday-Alices 23rd Birthday!!!
I took her to Rainham Marshes for her Birthday :)
In all fairness she loves the place so i agreed to go with her,sheerly to support her on her big day,so off we trudged.In all fairness it was pretty quiet on the reserve,by the time we got to the New hide most of the waders i had spotted earlier from the northern boardwalk had dispersed,golden plover,redshank,black tailed godwits etc,we got into the hide and straight away locked on to two very odd looking geese,it turns out they are Greylag Geese with white fronts but i thought they were a hybrid,certainly had a few of us stumped for a few minutes,a sparrowhawk landed on a post directly in front of the hide then underneath and back round.The only other bird of note was a Ruff on the Target pools,apart from this it was quite quiet and i didn't get to look around properly as alice was now tired and wanted her din dins,so off we went round to Alices parents for dinner which consisted of Coq Au Reisling(dunno if this is how it was spelt but felt alright in my large belly)its now early afternoon Monday and only just stopped raining and i still have a cold but may sneak out for an hour or twos birding in a little while,and AFC Hornchurch won 2-1 away at Cray Wanderers yesterday to get our promotion push back on track,all our rivals drew so happy days indeed.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Not an Owl in Sight.

Had two shifts over the Ingrebourne Valley today,the first i went to the Berwick ponds end to look for Bittern,i have also seen Little Owl that end as well in the past.I parked up and put on me trusted wellies as we have had a bit of rain the last couple of days and it looked a bit wet.I went onto the pond,which is in fact a large reedbed area a good 3 or 4 acres in size and produces birds such as Bittern,Marsh Harrier,Bearded tits,kingfisher,grebes etc.Today it produced none of these,although i did get some Teal,Shoveler,pochard etc from another pool out the back,i also had some Mute Swans on the Main pool.I decided to go for a walk which wasn't really my intention as i only had a short amount of time.I headed up to the side of the Valley where you are in an elevated position and decided to look over the Country Park(above).The valley was flooded as the river had burst its banks but there was very little activity on the flooded land,just the odd moorhen,coot and teal where in winters gone past there has been much more in the way of wildfowl,i hung around scanning the Valley for about half an hour hoping to see a wandering Harrier,Owl or Bittern but nothing.I decided to have a walk through the scrubland and trees and on doing so was nearly run into by a fox which came across my track without seeing me,as soon as he did he was off,then i flushed 6 Pheasant from the bushes,i took a walk up to the path which leads to the Bridge over the Ingrebourne and looked around in the Horse Paddock but once again nothing.I had to be back home to take Alice and the Nipper to their friends for the Afternoon so decided to call it a day(or Morning) and headed off back to the car,i got to the car and realised i still had 40 or so minutes till i said i would be home so decided to head to the Field with the horses on Berwick ponds road which is still part of the Ingrebourne Valley.On arriving there was a flock of around 400 starlings whirling around the field and another smaller flock of 80-100 Fieldfare.There was also around 40 Stock doves and 6 Rook,12 Pied Wagtail and a Grey Wagtail went over towards the Valley.
I dropped Alice and nipper round to her friends at Elm Park and decided to go back over to the Valley,this time the Hornchurch Country Park side
On arriving at the park i saw a kestrel hovering over the kids swings but to be honest this was about as good as it was going to get,i scanned the flooded meadows from the other side(above) and aprt from a small amount of Teal,the odd Shoveler and a Water Rail there wasn't much happening,a few chaffinch & greenfinch were around as the usual flocks of tits,i moved further down to the viewing platform but once again nothing apart from 2 Mute Swans,i then decided to move onto the Hill to scan the area i had scanned in the morning,i was there for an hour and can honestly say i saw nothing apart from the usual stuff and 8 Long Tailed tits behind me,i called it a day around 4pm and went to pick Alice and the Nipper up.Not sure where i am off to tomorrow,think i am out with the nipper and the baby but i am sure a bit of birding will be on the cards.                                                                       

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Muddy Boots

Got up late this morning,due to a lie in with the nipper after mummy went to work,got a bit of a cold,probably due to all the birding i have been doing in the rain the last couple of weeks,unfortunatly today was no different although the rain did hold off until around 1.30pm.
I left home at 9.30 and decided to head to Canvey West Marsh a new Reserve on Canvey Island.I dropped the nipper off round nanny sheilas who looks after her on a wednesday,an arrangement that started when me and Alice were both working.I then proceeded to the petrol station where once again i am being ripped off at £1.29 a litre of fuel,5 years ago it was half the price,disgraceful.I put a tenner in,don't get me very far nowadays.
I decided to go across country hoping to see some farmland birds and i was rewarded with a yellowhammer on Dunnings lane and further along i watched a flock of over 500 wood pigeons flying hurridly off as a male Sparrowhawk was threatening them.I then had 10 Red Legged Partridges around Conway road,near Orsett and 2 Corn Buntings.I got onto the A13 but by the second Basildon turn off i could see the A13 clogged up so decided to get off and have a look down at Wat Tyler Country Park near Pitsea.I drove all the way to the end and parked up,there was already a bloke with a scope scanning the fields of gulls,he was looking for anything unusual ie iceland  glaucous but after scanning them there was nothing unusual.His name was Nik,nice bloke,probably around my age and a fan of the old darts,also a member of the Essex Birders site i use.We then went to another viewpoint but this again proved on the whole fruitless although there was plenty of birds on show.
I then decided to head to Coalhouse Fort near Tilbury,its a funny site,the Fort itself i believe used to be an artillery battery and i can imagine it can be quite a scary place after dark but all around it there is plenty of wildlife.The fort is on the banks of the river thames and was probably built a few hundred years ago (i will check this out once i have finished todays entry).I went up to the path by the thames and straight away i had 22 Corn Buntings,always nice to see in good numbers as they are a declining bird in essex and many other counties.Then i scanned the foreshore where there were good numbers of dunlin,redshank,godwits,curlew and ringed plover.A single Sanderling was also a nice bird.
I then had 3 Snow Buntings over my head and landed in the scrub just before the foreshore.Wasn't 100% sure what they were first off but one showed very well on a tuft of grass so i could confirm its id.
I had 12 ducks way off in the distance,over the kent side of the thames,they looked like eiders but in the poor light there was no way i could say for sure.
I then scanned to the East and in the distance i could make out a harrier,first of all i thought it was a marsh but i moved about 200 yards further on and it was in fact a female hen Harrier.a cracking bird which after a few seconds took off in the wind giving me lovely views of the bird.The only other action by now was lashings of rain and 3 police boats speeding down the Thames,i got a picture of them on the  phone,crap but still a picture,the 3 dots in the middle are the boats speeding down the thames probably going to some crack house in tower hill.

After this i decided to head back as the rain was quite heavy now,by now the dunlins had started coming in in huge flocks doing arial displays around the thames.I also had a Little grebe on the small lake by the fort,which probably used to be a moat.I got briefly attacked by a yorkshire terrier which was probably about 30 seconds from getting kicked into the moat as its owner didn't seem too bothered that it was attacking me,all 1ft 6" of it.Message to dog owners....I do not want to have your dog all over me,i do not want your dog rubbing crap all over me and i don't want your dog annoying me when i am looking at birds,if you can't control your poxy dogs then put them on a lead,but judging by some of the dog walkers i met today it may be better if the owners were actually put on leads.With this i got out my very muddy new boots and went home via orsett,although i saw nothing but the 10 red legged Partridge i saw on the way there.A good day but something about Coalhouse fort just doesn't sit right with me,despite fabulous birds and good numbers it just doesn't have the sex appeal of many other birding sites along the thames,don't know if anyone else agrees,perhaps i just visit it when its grey and gloomy,still,i am sure i will be back there in the next few weeks,may try it on a warmer sunnier day though.
                                                                 

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Back to winning ways

Just got home from football with AFC Hornchurch,where we won 3-2 away at Concord Rangers in the Essex Senior Cup 4th Round.A competition we won 4 years ago and lost to Colchester United 2-1 in the final last season.We was 2-0 down after about 15 minutes tonight but battled back to eventually win the game.This was yet another game where i didn't have a drink,you have to go back to November 20th since i drank at a football game and then another 3 weeks before that,hopefully the fat git has lost a bit of weight in that time but don't hold your breath.
Ironically i spent most of my day looking at Canvey Island where Concord play as i visited Two Tree Island near Leigh on sea,it overlooks the Thames Estuary and Canvey island and is a good place for all manner of birds especially waders,wildfowl and Brent geese
(looking out from Two Tree Island onto Canvey point and the Thames Estaury)
I arrived around 10am as the tide was out,there were still a few of the usual suspects wading around,redshank,black tailed godwits and oystercatchers,i also had a few brent geese in the distance but not a great deal was happening,i decided to go to the hide overlooking the Lagoon to see if there was anything going on,as i got there a bloke came out with a picture of a robin,which he had taken from about 2 foot away just outside the hide.I set up the scope in the hide and sat down to observe the lagoon for a while,within a minute or so,we was joined by another interesting being,The Robin.He had jumped into the hide with us and was all over the place,not one bit bothered by our presence,he actually seemed to enjoy us being there
What a cheeky fella
I stayed in the hide for about an hour,the Robin was with us most of the time,at one point he was standing on my scope!!!
From the hide we had the usual waders plus wigeon,teal and a little egret but not much else.By about 12 0 clock i was feeling peckish so decided to venture down to Southend seafron for some good old fashioned fish and chips,well Saveloy and Chips anyway.I done a bit of estuary watching towards Shoeburyness and watched the waders coming back and forth for about an hour or so before going up towards rossis ice cream parlour which is famous for not just ice cream but Rossi the Ring billed gull,he was on the lamp post just past Rossis and out on the groynes were a couple of Med Gulls with the Black heads,a nice couple of year ticks for me.
I headed back to Two Tree for an hour or so as the waders would be coming back in on the rising tide but although i did see some spectacular dunlin action to rival what i saw on Sunday at Old hall i didn't see any Knot action as i had to leave about 3.30pm(an hour or so before high tide)
I did manage however a Sanderling and a green Sandpiper which was my favourite bird apart from the robin
I think i will hit West canvey marsh romorrow and then maybe back to Two tree to see some Knot on the rising tide as i missed it today,although high tide is at 17.24 tomorrow which is dark although i should see some good action upto about 5pm.Hopefully the weather will be good as its supposed to be upto 13c,wierd.