Serin,Isla's middle name...

Serin,Isla's middle name...

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.


  1. I visited the coalhouse fort marshes area Tues and saw large bird of prey but couldn't id it as it disappeared over the edge onto river shore out of sight. Wonder if it was the female hen harrier too? Thought it had a patch of white on its underside lower body though...

  2. Could be a Female Peregrine as they are larger than the males but saying that the males are not tiny.That would be my guess.Saying that it could of been a hen as they are pale underneath with streaked brest on the female,the males are white underneath but you would notice them straight away as the colour is grey on the rest of the body apart from black wing tips