Serin,Isla's middle name...

Serin,Isla's middle name...

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Hawfinch Heaven

Got up a bit late this morning,not too late though as i had a job up to Colchester at 9am.Dropped the lovely ladies from a local hospice off around 10am and made my way back down the A12 to Braxted,a well known site for Hawfinch,practically the only regular site for the birds in Essex.We have had some snow overnight,albeit a very light dusting and Mid to North Essex seemed to have pretty much the same,it threatened to get heavier for a while,while driving back down to Braxted but it seemed to pass pretty quickly.I stopped at Rivenhall Lake (think thats the name!),where there were large numbers of Great Crested Grebes,a few little Grebes and the usual Wildfowl.I was only using my Bins and it was quite misty so i couldn't see too far.As i was not sure if i was supposed to be parked where i was,i thought i should move on.Arriving at Braxted i paid attention for the first time to the No Parking sign and drove up the track a bit to try to find somewhere to park,after about 3/4 of a mile i realised this was probably a wrong move and couldn't find anywhere to turn round,i finally managed to turn at a sort of junction but even this took me a few turns,poor darts!The watching 3 pheasants were clearly laughing at me,shits!!
I decided to ignore the No parking sign,or at least plead ignorance by parking as far away from it as i could,if anyone said anything i was prepared to lie to my back teeth and say the sign was blocked.
I walked up the path and while there,i met an old friend Bill,who actually put me onto the birds,there were 2 high up on the left in the trees,we watched them for a few minutes before they flew off and into Braxted Park itself.There was very little else around,2 Greenfinches and a Blue tit and those piss taking Pheasants!!!
Bill was going to Abberton to bird of the Causeway and as i had a couple of hours i decided to join him,we went via Salcott,where a Great Grey Shrike has been for the last 3/4 weeks but after a while we gave up and went to Abberton,briefly stopping for a Chocolate & Orange flapjack,breakfast at its finest.
We arrived at Abberton in our mini convoy with a few other birders braving the weather,which had deteriorated into a small sleety snow storm,thankfully after half hour or so it abeited but i was frozen stiff
We scanned the Western end of Abberton Reservoir,first up was a lovely Drake Smew,a scan around also revealed many Pochard,all huddled up against the far bank.Around 300 Shoveler were huddled up in the middle of the reservoir in a big ball with smaller numbers huddled up elsewhere.There were the usual geese,Greylags & canada,with Snow goose of the ornimental/escaped variety and a couple of Egyptian geese running around like nutters on the Causeway.A Marsh Harrier glided across the water,not on it but over it,just in case you had thoughts that they can Waterski!
Next up was a Common Buzzard sitting in a tree the other side of the water,brief views before it took off and landed a few hundred yards away.There were plenty of Cormorants around,Great Crested Grebes,a couple of Little Grebes,Tufted Ducks,coots,moorhens and a Grey Wagtail.
We then had 8 Dunlin flashing across in front of us,but by now the cold had got the better of us and Bill departed,off for a cup of tea and a scone on the reserve shop.I stayed on the causeway for another 15 minutes or so in the hope of seeing a Bittern inb the reeds in front of me but no such luch,just a Little Egret and a Heron to round the day off.A good couple of hours birding but it took me that amount of time to get the feeling back in my toes and fingers!!!!!!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Parrot Crossbill,West Sussex.Lifer

Hello fellow bloggers & readers of this blog.
Got up early this morning as i had a 6am job to Heathrow.Originally i was going to drop the lovely people off at Heathrow around 8am and head north to Stockers Lake,Rickmansworth for a few hours to mainly look for Red Crested Pochard amongst other things,before going back to Heathrow to pick some other people up but news of a Parrott Crossbill in West Sussex the last 3 Days meant i hopped it down the A3 to Blackdown Hill,near Haslemere as this is the first one seen in England since 2000 and first in Sussex since around 1880,i don't remember that record too well.

I arrived around 9am,the place is easy enough to find,a few narrow lanes but me and the bus of love got in there ok.I made my way from the car par,through the Pine Forest encountering a couple of Goldcrest,a few tits,wrens but not too much else although it appeared perfect habitat for Crossbills.It was cold,about -2c and as i made my way through the forest and to a clearing it was obvious that the place had had a dusting of snow albeit very very light.Walking along the path,which was high up with a valley below i had 4 Crossbills but a quick check and they were all common,next up were 8 siskins,then a nuthatch.I noticed some other birders the other side of the Valley high up looking at some tall pines away from the main forest.I hurried round and within 10 minutes at the top of a tall pine tree was the large female parrot crossbill,big bulky bird,big beak,just looked bigger and bulkier than the many other Crossbills i saw there.It hung around for a minute or so before flying off to the main forest,then it flew back,high above us,calling,slightly different sound than the commons,then off again,not to be seen again by me in the next hour and a half before i left.I had a wander off from the others for a few minutes,the views of this place are quite spectacular and its somewhere i will definatly go back to,had no idea it was there to be honest.This is one of the pools which the Crossbills drink out of apparantly,frozen!!

On my wander i had a distsant Buzzard,Woodlark and a Stonechat,it started snowing briefly,hardly a surprise as we must of been 800 feet up at least.I went back to my fellow birders who had no luck,i decided to have a slow walk back to the car as i had a pick up at Heathrow.I went back the way i came and before i hit the forest from the ridge i had 5 Crossbills,none of them Parrot and a few wrens and 8 Siskin,the sun was starting to come out now and on entering the forest there seemed to be a large Crossbill flock although i couldn't hear or see a parrot.I had another nuthatch,few tits,a Green Woodpecker and just before i got to the car park a Firecrest was low in a bush,showing very well,managed to put a couple of other birders onto it,which is always nice,one got a picture of it and has promised to send it to me(cheers Ted).
I made my way round to Heathrow through the Surrey countryside,lots of heathland,something we are not used to in Essex,got a feeling it won't be long until i am back that way....

PS i am on the look out for some cheap start up photography gear,second hand,if anyone knows anyone or anything going,please let me know.Know nothing about it so need a bit of tuition too lol

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Lesser Spotted Woody hooray

Woke up late this morning,due to not getting in from work until past 3am,delivering the good folk of Havering safely back to their humbles abodes.
Was woken by the nipper,who for some reason seems to be happy to see me first thing in the morning,despite the fact that i always look like shit first thing.
After an hour or so of getting myself together i decided to head off to Cely Woods,close by to me,part of which i have found out is in havering and part of which is in Thurrock,courtesy of my blackberry which tells me where certain pictures have been taken.
I arrived just after midday and although it appears to have been a nice morning,the weather took a turn for the worse with heavy cloud for most of the afternoon,although the rain did hold off until i got home.
I ventured into the woods to be greated by a large tit flock with 18 Long tailed tits,many great and blue tits and 5 Goldcrest,a good start to the day.My target birds for today were Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Firecrest but i knew for the Lesser i would have to go to the other end of the woods,this is where i had one last year and where others have told me they have been een more recently.On leaving the tit flock and venturng to the other end the woods suddenly seemed devoid of life,with the exception of a Jay,fieldfare and a few Jackdaw high up and not forgetting the odd grey Squirrel (vermin)
A couple of Green Woodpeckers were heard while walking through the woods which are mixed woodland,probably no more than 1/2 mile long and maybe 1/4 mile wide but in the centre of them you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere despite a reasonably busy lane that runs to the West of the woods.There are actually two parts of the woods,undoubtably at one time they was all one great wood which would of probably spread over most of the surrounding countryside but now they are two very small sites,the smaller of the two areas doesn't usually seem to have too much in there but being only a stone throw away from the much larger Belhus woods probably has more than it seems.
I positioned myself towards the south west edge of the woods,looking up at the taller trees in the Area,after an hour i had seen a single Great Spotted woodpecker,a few tits,crows,pigeons and a lovely Treecreeper,my first in this woodland.After about an hour,with cold setting in,i decided on walking over to Belhus,on doing so i left the woods and within about 2 minutes a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flew out of the woods,across the Scrub and landed on a tree,luckily i had my scope and picked it up straight away,good views for about a minute before it flew back into the woods to which i followed,15 minutes of searching ddn't re find the bird so i left again and wandered over to Belhus,happy and for some reason whistling "summertime" the old Ella fitgerald classic,not sure why but although freezing cold it didn't seem like a mid winters day,maybe i was just happy with the bird or because spring is on its way lol

I headed over to Belhus for my first trip to the Scrape there,its a place i like but doesn't seem to throw up the birds i think it should,i was hoping for a Red Crested Pochard like i had last year there but not much but the usual wildfowl,Teal,wigeon c 50,Tufted ducks c50,c100 pochard,heron,8 Shoveler,mallards,moorhen,coots plenty of gulls mainly black headed with the odd herring & common there.Other birds were starling,Great Spotted Woodpecker,Jay and a lovely Mistle thrush.I decided to go home after this to watch Arsenal but on my way back to the car had a look through the other part of Cely Woods,where i had a blue tit and a starling,which just about sums it up this time of year!!!

It was starting to drizzle now so i headed back to the car,just touching the corner of the main woods where i had another Green Woodpecker,Goldcrest and some tits.The last bird(s) being a flock of around 30 fieldfare at the car park.Arsenal went on to win 3-2 after a ropey first half,happy days,amazing what a team can do after a kick up the backside and the fans actually getting behind the team.
Saturday saw me up around 8.30 and heading to Thames chase Launders Lane again.Nice crisp morning but a bit hazy which didn't help.Many gulls mainly the usual Black headed in the fields and 11 Greenfinch a good number recently.2 Reed Buntings in pretty much the same place as Friday and the Star Bird was a lovely Male Brambling.After this it was off to the Bridge to Watch the mighty AFC Hornchurch v East Thurrock United,battle of the Ryman Premiers Form teams,we won 1-0 with a goal a minute into injury time from Lewis Smith,i missed the goal as i left a minute or so earlier as i was taking people to the airport,gutted but happy we won,we stay 2nd as Billericay and Lowestoft both won but i fancy us for the title.COME ON HORNCHURCH.
Offf to Heathrow tomorrow morning at 6.30 so should be there by 8 and have a few hours spare before a 1pm pick up so aim to get some birding in at the reservoirs or pits over that way.

Lewis Smiths Goal

Friday, 27 January 2012

Birding Back in Essex

After the last few days chasing the birds around North Norfolk,i awoke about 9.30am after a good 10 hour stint in bed,job done.Nipper,who has a little cold like her daddy,had to be looked after by the man with the cold this morning as mummy had a driving lesson,so back to bed the pair of us went for an hour for what nipper calls "daddy cuddles".This basically involved her going back to sleep while i watched Tennis!!
A quick visit to the tip for me and Nipper when Alice got back saw a nice large Female Sparrowhawk hunting near the tip.I had no plans to go birding today as i had a bit of work at 1pm but it was only local and only took half hour or so,so i decided to look at the site i visited last week,the Thames Chase site in Launders Lane which is partly owned by an aggregate company.
It didn't start too well with nothing but a wood pigeon and a few black headed gulls over the gravel pit at the back,that is inaccesible i think(maybe with wellies i may try to forge a path).But then it started to get a bit more interesting.A Green Woodpecker was the first to show itself,followed by two Reed Buntings,male and female,then a Jay,these were all over the northern side of the site.The site is pretty tiny and just has two circular paths of which you could probably walk around in 20 minutes flat,but on entering the southern end of the site,i went down a small hill and immediatly found myself with views towards Cely wood in the East,another woodlands to the South East and a few fields ahead of me.

It was much busier this side,a small brook runs through by the trees,although i am led to believe that the fields in the picture above,above the trees will shortly be a golf course!! As if we don't have enough already.Overhead came a Common Buzzard,five minutes later another and a Kestrel was hunting in the nearby fields.2 Lesser Redpolls went over,probably nestling in one of the many immature alder trees that are on the site,i heard plenty of Wrens although only saw 1,robins,dunnocks and it was good to see Greenfinches seemed to be in abundance.12 Long Tailed tits were in with another mixed tit flock.Then,as i was talking to a dog walker a group of 45 Greylag geese came in,settled on the southern field,with them was a White front goose and a single Canada goose.They stayed around a while before being spooked by something,but i couldnt see anything,maybe a fox as i had seen a couple.Below is a picture of the distant geese in the field which is soon to become a golf course,they are above the bushes,good luck with trying to identify any of them lol,i will buy some camera equipment when i get some money lol

My final birds on site,were 4 Corn Buntings,these and Yellowhammers have been a bogey bird for me locally and in Norfolk so far this year and although the hammers have been reported on this site i failed to get them today,i left the site around 4.15pm and drove home,stopping briefly by Berwick Ponds to scan the reedbed in the hope of Bitterns,no luck but i did manage to connect with not 1 but 2 Yellowhammers,yay 2 year ticks in 15 minutes,takes my yearly total up to 158,kerching.Sometimes its the days like these,winter,sunny 11c and a not too promising site,that actually end up the better days,this was definatly one of them,just not quite in Norfolks league lol
Me and Nipper popped round to my mum and dads for an hour or so,where she slept,then came home so my little angel could throw cheerios all over the place!!!

Off to work in a minute once i have soaked myself for a while in the bath,may try to pop back over to Launders Lane in the morning before football,we could go top again tomorrow with a win,fingers crossed,up the Hornchurch

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Norfolk,Gods County

When it comes to Birding,Norfolk is my favourite county and the North Norfolk Coast is where the shit happens.There may be good reserves all around the UK,with fabulous birding but Norfolk takes the piss to be honest.
I arrived Tuesday Morning in the pouring rain,firstly i headed off to Fakenham,which is about 10 miles inland for a bogey bird of mine,the Great Grey Shrike,i have seen them before,just not as often as everyone else,whenever i turn up they are usually asleep and the same appeared to be happening with this bird for a good hour until it flew from a tree towards me,giving me good views for around 2 minutes before dissapearing again,usually i would hang around but as it was chucking it down and i was soaked i decided to jump in the car and head to Titchwell for the Couses Arctic Redpoll that had been frequenting the reserve and mainly the feeder area,it obliged within 15 minutes,by now the weather although still crap,was slightly better to i headed to the Fen hide for my lunch,i had a Spoonbill fly way out towards Holkham and then went to see if any Bitterns were about,nothing,apart from a solitary Water rail!
After lunch i headed to Gun hill near Burnham Overy where we had Lapland Buntings,2 Rough Legged Buzzards,Grey Partridge,Ringtail Harrier,thousands of pink foots,in fact most types of geese,linnets,skylarks,Barn Owls,marsh harriers,common buzzards,the list could go on,birds everywhere.I cut it short about 4pm,just as the geese were starting to come into the area after a days feeding on Norfolk lush surrounds,i didn't have anywhere to stay so thought it best to try to find somewhere.I decided on Wells because of its location and the fact it has a choice of Restaurants/Pubs which i fancied giving a try.I found a lovely B&B at the Merchant House,owned by a lovely couple and managed to get a Double room with a four poster bed for 2 nights all to myself,best couple of nights sleep i've had in a long time.
I popped into the Golden Fleece in Wells,only a couple of minutes walk,if that from the B&B and had a few good beers with the locals before heading across the road for a Curry,traditional Norfolk grub obviously.
I woke up 45 minutes late for breakfast the next morning,top brekkie as well,i arrived at Cley after a 35 minute drive,mainly due to them shutting the roads into Cley village and not telling you where the diversion started or ended but just after 10am i arrived,walked to Pats Pool to get the Western Sandpiper which was 10 yards from the hide,probably the easiest tick i have ever had,looks like a Dunlin,hopped around a lot due to having a sparrowhawk attacking it apparantly.Also on the scrape were 5 Common sandpipers,Dunlin,both godwits,Redshank,green Sandpiper,Spotted redshank,oystercatchers and lots of the usual Wildfowl.I decided to head for the beach for a couple of hours seawatching and while pulling into the car park i bumped into Dave Mcgarry who was up that way,visiting his daughter.We had a few meadow pipits on the way up with the brent geese,A Barn Owl flew over us giving cracking views.I started seawatching with Velvet scoter being my best bird,16 eiders flew east,at least 8 red throat divers and a black throat,13 common scoters,guillemot,fulmar,kittewakes.We had a sparrowhawk putting everything up including thousands of golden and grey plovers.With no sign of any buntings we headed off to Salthouse and within minutes we had 14 snow buntings,on the sea were a few scoters and divers then we went our seperate ways with Dave going for the Great Grey Shrike at Fakenham and me heading back to Wells,i actually went further,back to Burnham Overy where we had c60 Lapland Buntings,at least 4 Rough Legged Buzzard,2 Common Buzzards,4 Barn Owl,Short Eared Owl,Ross goose,Hen Harrier,thousands of geese,mainly pink foot but hade some Beans as well as Brent,white fronts and barneys.The fields out the back had Skylarks,Grey & Red Legged Partridge as well as Hares.Totally shattered i headed back to the hotel Via the Chinese takeaway where i got some Rice,Deep fried squid,ribs etc and woolfed it all down with a can or two of Coke while sitting in the motor overlooking Wells Quay,then went back to my room and chilled out for the night,happy days,dont get much better than that.
Woke up this morning bright and early,woolfed down the brekkie before checking out and heading off to Titchwell,i was going to go Holkham but couldn't be bothered with the extortionate car parking there so decided on Titchwell,i arrived just after the rain stopped and went straight to the Sea for some seawatching,the Sun was now starting to come out and a Barn Owl was quartering across the marsh (crap pictures below).On the Sea were at least 6 Long Tailed Ducks,good views after a while of 3 drakes going West.Also seen were red & black throat divers,Goldeneye,Red necked Grebe,common scoters,kittewakes,fulmars and an Iceland Gull.I headed off for a quick trip down to Thornham where i had 8 snow buntings,linnets,Hen Harrier and a Marsh Harrier.I decided it was time for home and drove back down the A10 towards home,not much on the way home,had a couple of buzzards,lots of Linnets and a Ringtail hen harrier near Ely,all in all a good few days away and back up there for the day,sunday,love it!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Staines Reservoir again,kerching!!!

Hello followers and those who choose not to follow but to read occasionally,you are all welcome,judging by my stats i am particular big in Romania as well as North America,hello Romanians and North Americans as well as a big hello to anyone not connected to the above.
I had a nice lay in this morning,i was awoken by the nipper shouting "dumbo,goofy,mickey,pluto,chicken? " from her cot,this usually means she is awake and wants to watch cartoons and is usually followed by "podge" which means she wants Porridge,she usually gets Podge as well.
As i had a 2pm pick up from Heathrow,i decided that a little trip to Staines Reservoir was on the cards,conveniantly located about a mile from Terminal 5 where i was picking up,i made my way there,stopping briefly on the way to a spot near Amersham where i have seen Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting before,along with Grey Partridge a long time ago.Today i didn't see any of the above,just 4 Red Legged Partridge.
I made my way to Staines,via a nice little chinese take away that does a crispy chicken curry with rice mega deal for £4,can of drink included,job done,set me up for a nice couple of hours birding,lovely!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I arrived at Staines to find a couple of birders onto something in the distance,getting my scope out it was a Black Necked Grebe,in fact there were 2 there,also way out in the distance was a redhead smew and plenty of Goldeneye along with Tufted Duck,i scanned all the Tufted and found the Scaup again,not easy to distinguish between the two birds especially at a distance and not something i would of had the patience or skill to do a few years ago but i am getting better at it now.On the raft and then towards the corner of the reservoir half hour later was an immature Shag and 14 Cormorants on the raft,also seen was a lovely Slavonian Grebe and Great Northern Diver on the North part,the latter flying right over my head to drop to the North from the South.There were plenty of Great Crested Grebes,gulls and Pied wagtails were particularly busy with at least 25 individuals around.I decided to call it a day around 1.15pm as the flight was due to land at 1.20pm but in hindsight i could of stayed there another hour as they didn't come out the airport until 2.20pm.On leaving the site i was alerted to a Fieldfare on the Grass bank and deciding to scan along the bank i picked up 2 Grey Wagtail and a Green Sandpiper,both taking my Year list up to 139,by far the best start to the year i have had,this time last year i was on 132 although a day later i was on 140 after a trip to Norfolk which included American Wigeon,ironically i shall be on the same stretch of coast and same reserve tomorrow and the next couple of days hopefully getting a lifer in the long staying Western Sandpiper that i was supposed to see last week amongst the other delights of Norfolks wildlife.
I got back from Heathrow around 3.30pm,just enough time for an hour or so local patch work.I headed towards Berwick Ponds and straight away saw c40 Greylags landing in a field behind the fishing lake,i parked up and scanned them and 2 White Fronts were in amongst them,moving on to Bonnetts for the last half hour or daylight,not too much going on,14 Fieldfare,11 Redwing,18 Long tailed tits,goldcrest and pheasant.Still no Yellowhammer or Corn Buntings for me this year but i am sure this will change the next 3 days in Norfolk,its good that i can combine work with pleasure as i am taking a Company work party to leicestershire first in the morning and picking them back up thursday evening,happy days!!!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Birding & Football,don't always make me happy

This time its Football which is the criminal and those pesky little blighters from Bury St Edmunds who dared beat the Mighty and in my eyes the favourites to win the Ryman Premier this season as they are quite clearly the best team in the League,AFC Hornchurch 2-1.
But to start my Saturday i got up at 7.30am and headed for the sunshine coast,or the Thames Estuary as most would call it and Two Tree Island,i arrived just after 8am to find the tide coming in but still quite low,after checking the tide table realised i had got my times mixed up as per usual and was an hour behind,no problem really though as i had a couple of hours and knew there was some good birding to be done.

Upon arriving i scanned the water,plenty of gulls,waders,ducks and quite a few little grebes around,14 i counted,much more than usual on a small stretch of water,in the distance a possible Red Throated Diver went past but it was so far out,probably 1/2 a mile that i couldn't possibly say for 100% but 95 only.There were quite a few waders on the deck,mainly Redshank but a single Spotted Redshank was a year tick for me,it was more or less in exactly the same place as i had it last month on my last visit.
There was some spectacular wader action with large numbers of Knot,Grey Plover and dunlin doing lovely ariel displays as well as around 25 Ringed plover way out,many Black tailed godwits and a few Bar tailed completed the wader action.By now the tide was coming in at quite a quick rate,hundreds of Brent geese were on the move as were the cormorants going down the Thames way out.My final birds was the best of all,a lovely Slavonian Grebe,out towards Canvey Point,by now time was getting on and i had to go home for a bit of late brekkie before heading up to Bury St Edmunds for the footy.
About 50 Hornchurch fans made the trip up the M11/A14 or A12/A14 whichever tickles your fancy,my ways quicker anyway as i am great,obviously.
We started the game well,not letting Bury settle before going a goal behind to some shocking defending,until this point we had been in total control but the goal seemed to spur the home fans on who bayed for Red cards at every 50/50 challenge,they got their wish after around 55 minutes as our centre back was harshly sent off for two yellows,mainly because once the Bury (cheating bastards) players saw who the offended player was the majority ran the length of the pitch waving imaginary cards and screaming at the ref,i watched the rest of the match where worse challenges flew in from Bury without yellows being given until we got a penalty 7 minutes from time because of a handball after a blocked shot.We scored,we celebrated and 7 minutes later we thought we had won it as from 5 yards out Michael Spencer was through,beat the keeper but clipped it wide,they went up the other end,scored,the whistle went then the bury players started annoying my Hornchurch players who are saints and dont hurt anyone,nice boys lol,i went home with the hump,after abusing the ref for a couple of minutes,tosser...
Had to be at Gatwick at 1pm on Sunday(today) so got up around 9.30 and headed to Bough beech in Kent,a big reservoir with good numbers of wildfowl,on arriving i scanned the smaller area to the east of the causeway and immediatly saw Snipe in with the Teal,9 to be precise but probably a few more lurking in the reeds,couldn't see too much of the main reservoir but what i could see were around 20 Mandarin ducks,the largest amount i have seen in one area in this country,a few Goosanders,geese,wigeon,teal,14 Cormorants on a platform and plenty of Black headed gulls.Back on the other side i had a Pied Wagtail,small tit flocks were very active and a Heron was on duty,had a small Roe deer run in front of the reservoir on the bank to finish of a nice couple of hours or so.Got home from Gatwick in time to see Tottenham lose to Man city which is always nice and then sat down to watch the first half of Arsenal v Man utd,started well then we went shit before half time with Man Utd taking the lead,didn't watch the 2nd half as i had to go to Heathrow but i heard we played better but lost 2-1.Really not too bothered as we simply arent good enough this year but what worries me is that a great manager like Wenger,who has no doubt been a great manager is not getting support from the board but is too polite to tell the fans that,yes we've won naff all for a few years but we are the only ones in the top 5/6 who have spent 400 million plus quid on a stadium,don't have rich sheiks or rich russians or dodgy yanks putting the club in debt to stay with the jonesys like the others so i have some sympathy with Arsene,i think the clubs fans should remember all that and the doubles,countless finals,champions league final,uefa cup final and constant top 4 finishing and thank our lucky stars we aren't Tottenham lol.
I think Wenger should probably go,but at the end of this season or next and with him standing down,not being forced out by people who are far too impatient just because the dross down the Seven Sisters have had a good season under the managership of someone who is in court in a couple of weeks for evading tax.In Arsene i trust,for the moment anyway!!!

Bough Beech Reservoir:-

Friday, 20 January 2012

Still no Bittern.......Yet

Got up bright and early this morning,refreshed after a good nights sleep (the first for a while,despite feeling like poo before i slept).I left home about 7.30am and headed for Berwick Ponds in the Ingrebourne Valley to,amongst other things see if any Bitterns were around.Was cold this morning but nowhere near as cold as it was earlier in the week.Despite the weather reports,well some,saying it would rain this morning i am pleased to say i stayed dry.I stayed stationary for an hour or so waiting and waiting and waiting but nothing,a few grebes,ducks and fly over linnets,finches,tits and 15 siskins.This time last year i had seen Bittern 4 times at the site,maybe it was because of the harsh weather we had,this year its much more settled with just the odd cold morning,more like autumn than mid winter but definatly easier to get up and out in the morning when its like this.I decided to walk to the other side of the reeds,risking upsetting the usually miserable anglers but luckily there were none around.I did have a nice Little Owl at the corner of the lake and a song thrush in full voice was also nice.As Alice had a driving lesson at 10,i had to go back and look after nipper who made me watch Dumbo for the 50th or so time this week,then it was off to do the weekly shopping via my mums where i had to complete a bit of paperwork for a new customer,fingers crossed.
I went back out at around 1pm for a quick job,on the way back i had another quick look at the ponds before heading off to Launders Lane and the aggregate site which i found out about,but by now it was raining so i just sat in the car for a while,waiting for it to stop,which it didn't so i just watched from the car.I had 38 Greylag geese in the distance which came from the reservoir,one looked good for white front but it was too distant to 100% confirm but one has been seen with the greylags so its very probable.Also had 18 linnets,Green Woodpecker,a couple of rooks and 8 goldfinch,hope to give this site a bash soon as there are some pits to the back and not sure how much it is watched or if i can even view them,got to be worth a ramble though.
Have no work tonight until 12.30 when i have to pick the missus up from London,hopefully they will decide to get the train home early so i can get an early night and get up early to go to two tree island for the crack of dawn,then back for lunchtime to pick a few lads up and then off to Bury St Edmunds to watch Hornchurch pick up 3 valuable points towards their promotion push,number one striker is suspended but i hope we can repeat our 3-1 victory there last season,tomorrow

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Am tired,so here is my entry for today,pah
got up at 4am,took Ant to the airport,it was p1ssing down with rain,next job was cancelled so dropped the idea of going to Norfolk,went back to bed......
Woke up at midday,buggered off to southend for a job,went to Two Tree Island,Leigh,sat watching mud and a few Waders for a couple of hours,quite enjoyable really.
New birds for the Year List :-Bar tailed Godwit,Ringed Plover & Greenshank,Year list stands at 132
Went home,played with the nipper,went out to do another job,ate some Chocolate,hence feel sick and now tired,going to bed which is why this Blog Entry is possibly the shortest and most lacklustre one of mine ever.
Getting up at 7.30 to go Berwick to look for a Bittern,got to be back by 9.30 so probably won't see it,hey ho,night

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Pipits,are they supposed to confuse you???

If ever you want to be confused by Pipits,just head down to the RSPB Reserve at Rainham on a damp Wednesday and by the time you get near the Foreshore,windy!!
I actually started off around 9am at the Stone Barges in Rainham,used to be a good place for Black Redstart among other things but i've not seen one there for a while and not too sure too many have been reported in that time,used to see Tree Sparrows leading up to there but they have gone as well,in fact many species have jumped barge and had it on there toes out of many areas lately,must be something in the water.
Anyway,a little ramble around the Area produced a few teal on the barges with good numbers of Lapwing,a few Redshank were around as were a couple of knot.I scanned the gulls on the tip and apart from a couple of Great black back gulls nothing out the ordinary,then again gulls are not my strong point,i usually wait for someone else to shout "caspian" before watching as they just confuse me,i am not alone in that either,for sure.
Just as i was getting ready to leave i saw my first confusing Pipit,it didn't stay in one place,kept flittering about and in changing light looked like all 3 of the regular Pipits you get at Rainham but after settling down i finally managed to confidently,well sort of ID it as Water Pipit,i bumped into Russ and Dave who had apparantly been watching the same bird a few minutes before who thought the same so we decided on a cup of tea over at the Rainhamn Reserve Cafeteria.For £1.30 you get a big mug of Tea,job done and a huge Sausage Roll for 2 nicker,breakfast done and now time for some Confusing Pipits.
I headed along the Sea Wall,or wall to the Thames rather than the sea,but it is tidal so i suppose its the sea but i call it a river if you get my drift,thats not the confusing bit,that comes in a minute.
First couple of birds i had were 2 Great Crested Grebes going up river,soon after were 5 cormorants heading up river too,on the deck on the sure were around 50 teal,a few Wigeon and the odd tufted duck close in,now for the confusing part,i heard 4 Meadow Pipits overhead,watched them land,then dissapear,then 7 birds re surfaced,half decent views of all the birds but only 2 appeared to be Meadow Pipits,the others were Rock Pipits,or at least 3 of them were.The others with their backs to me started to confuse me,anyway i decided to head down to Aveley Bay when another couple of birds landed on some rocks,close by,these were Water Pipits.They then dissapeared and were seen to be replaced with Rock Pipits a few moments later.Had i seen what i thought i had,or were these pesky little birds messing with my mind,fuck knows to be honest.The water pipits i had seen were definatly water Pipits,the Meadow Pipits were definatly Meadows and the first 3 Rock Pipits were definatly Rock Pipits,so why am i confused,because the fuckers don't stand still like they should!!!
Dazed,windswept and confused,i decided on another cup of tea.....
I decided then to head Down River to Grays,not a place i go to much due to their rivalry with Hornchurch but it does throw some good birds up like last years Grey Phalarope,but nothing but Black head gulls and about 30 sparrows in the bracken close by,but still,nice numbers.Nothing else on the Sea/River either.I headed east to Tilbury,had a scan there by the Ferry but the same again,zilch....
From there i decided to head North to Orsett and the South Essex Fens as i call them,basically flat land with one Drain devoid of any water,running through the Middle,not much luck here either apart from a few Fieldfare in the odd tree and a few Pheasants.I decided to call it a day,just briefly stopping off at Pike Lane on the outskirts of Upminster and stopping in one of my favourite places,a little lay by where you look over a piece of land surrounded by trees but has a clearing in the middle,quite a large area,about 1/3rd mile long and 1/4 mile wide,used to be very overgrown but is now basically a meadow where you get pheasants,Green & gt spotted woodpeckers,redwing,fieldfares,crows,tits etc and today a nice Male Bullfinch,spent half hour there watching rabbits and all sorts before heading to the car wash to get the motor cleaned and then home.
Am away for a couple of days tomorrow,taking a group to Leicestershire early in the morning,pick them up friday evening and in between the plan is to hit Norfolk for some birding.....happy days.......Hard Life

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Ingrebourne Valley,hmmm

Got up at 5.30 this morning to take my friend Sharons parents back to Heathrow,they live in Florida and have obviously had enough of this current cold spell,one that thankfully appears to be coming to an end,for now anyway,in fact it will only be a month or so until i can probably stop paying ridiculous amounts for my fuel bills,happy days.It was -6c this morning when i got up,not nice.
I left Heathrow at about 8am and decided to head back slowly before my next job at Stansted.I stopped for a sausage and egg mcmuffin at south mimms,very nice,temperature was still -4c not nice.
I decided to drive around the back roads to Lea Valley and Fishers Green in search of Bitterns but by the time i got there it was pretty much time to leave as the next flight was about an hour or so early!!
I did however manage a Water Rail and a 1st winter Med gull,which were 126 & 127 respectively on my Year list.
On arriving home around lunchtime and the temperature now a few degrees above freezing i decided on the Ingrebourne Valley for my next stint birding.Although the temperature was well over freezing,the scrape was frozen solid meaning much of the wildfowl was on the grass,included in that total was 32 teal,around 20 mallards,c70 Moorhens,2 Water rail,20 Snipe and a Heron.I decided to head up to the Reedbeds to see if anything was happening elsewhere on the reserve as it seemed very quiet but again,nothing,well not until the immature male Marsh harrier that is doing the rounds suddenly flew about 5 yards from my head,into the reedbed and then back out again.I had good views of this bird for the next hour or so until i called it a day,mainly due to my bad belly i had picked up from a combination of mcdonalds crap breakfast and chocolate.A couple of Bullfinch rounded off a cold but decent days birding.
Off out again tomorrow but still havent decided where to go yet,its supposed to be 12c but i will take a look at the weather in the morning and make a decision,perhaps i will have a dream about somewhere tonight that may spur me on........who knows.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Suffering,liver and kidneys hurt

Been a few days since my last post,you may of heard from me before but we lost 4-0 so i didn't have too much to say saturday night,since then i have been feeling like crap,too much alcohol,not sure i want to drink anymore.....
On a positive note,we had a really good day out,the people of Grimsby were very friendly and welcomed us with open arms and we enjoyed ourselves immensly.
May be able to do a bit of birding tomorrow,if i feel any better,drink is the devil,i tell theee

Thursday, 12 January 2012

I am a filthy Twitcher!!!

Today saw me travelling the 100 or so miles down to Hampshire to TWITCH the Spanish Sparrow in Calshot,near Southampton.I arrived just after 8am with Martin "Blow Monkey" Blow,not nicknamed because he gives head to Michael Jacksons ex pet chimp,just thought i would clear that up for anyone who was wondering.
Walking up to the TWITCH,yes you read it right,a TWITCH,not something i usually get involved with but hey,it was enjoyable,nice bird,50% success rate,anyway,back to the story,on arriving we were reliably informed by yvonne that the bird had been very showy but had buggered off for a gob full of seeds (my words not hers),we were also reliably informed that once the said bird (a male Spanish Sparrow) had finished off his breakfast he would be back with the other House Sparrow for a chat in an hour or so and we was not dissapointed,it arrived back around 9.10am and treated us to some very good views in what must of been better light than those who had seen it about 7.55am.
Next on my TWITCH list was the Dark Eyed Junco to the west of Beaulieu,hants,once again,on arriving we bumped into yvonne who once again reliably informed us that the bird had been showing just a few minutes before at the edge of the clearing.Off we trotted,me,martin and our new friend Rob who lived in California for the last 20 years,came from Kent but was here for a holiday,nice bloke anyhow.Anyway,back to this Junco,about 15 of us spent the best part of an hour looking for a bird that had obviously been there just a minute or so before we arrived,in the meantime we had about 10 crossbills,a single Brambling,both year ticks for me,siskins,Reed Buntings,tits and finches,lovely stuff!!!
The Junco turned up after an hour,once again a lovely bird and well worth the wait,had good views for a few minutes but time was getting on a bit now and we were 65 miles from the next FILTHY TWITCH.
A nice drive to be honest,across Hampshires New Forest into Dorset and down to Weymouth,lovely countryside and quiet roads in comparison to The Big Smoke.We parked up outside a holiday village in the sleepy little town of Wyke Regis on the outskirts of Weymouth,Weymouth holds special memories for me as a couple of years ago that little old pub team from Essex AKA AFC Hornchurch went down there and got a last minute winner courtesy of Simon "Jesus" Parker,such infruriating the Home Club that they refused to serve us in their bar after the game,something to do with someone setting a smoke bomb off at the end of the game,bitter Twats.Anyway,sorry for going off story,just reminiscing,we parked up and walked through the Holiday Camp,as we was walking,Justin (A fellow Boozy Birder) drove past,stopped and reversed,i asked im if he had seen the Humes Warbler but he hadn't,i was fully expecting to get up there,wait an hour as that seems the norm and then find the bird,as it was,we waited an hour,the bird didn't turn up,so we went to look for the Richards Pipit,which was supposed to be not far from the Humes but after a little hunt around for it we decided to call it a day as time was getting on,we then headed back across the South on the long drive back to Sunny Old Essex,a few Buzzards and the usual bits and pieces on the way back ended a cracking day out,one question needs to be answered,does today make me a filthy TWITCHER or not,thoroughly enjoyed it and while i still consider myself a Birder i am definatly more of a twitcher than i was 24 hours ago.........

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Avocets and a couple of Red Breasts!!

Visited the Essex Coast Yesterday between jobs,had to take a party up to Colchester and wait for them so i decided on a little stroll around North East Essex.First stop was tollsbury where i went to find the Red Brested Goose,which has been knocking around with the Local Brent Geese,i scanned the fields around Back Road where they have been seen but to no avail,although a bit further up towards Tollesbury i managed 8 Tree Sparrows.
I decided to hit Mersea Island and East Merseas Cudmore Grove.I enjoy this reserve,its convenient,a nice 5 minute walk down to the Sea and theres always a bit of birding to be had.
The first bird i latched onto was a cracking Male Red Brested Merganser way out at sea,then i scanned the fields to tick Brent goose,around 150 were feeding in the fields behind me.
Wader numbers were good with Sanderling a plenty,12 coming within 3 foot of me,33 turnstone were seen,black tailed godwits were around 70 with more seen out in the Colne at a distance.A single Avocet was as always a lovely bird to see,other waders were Oystercatcher,Grey plover,lapwing.A good little trip,made better by 15 Snow Bunting on the way back to the car.
I decided to have a last try for the Red Brested Goose at Back Lane and after 35 minutes around 1000 geese had congregated but as usual,its always the last one to arrive,or with the last few straddlers coming in,but at least i got my birdy.From there i headed to Braxted Park where Hawfinch had been seen but it wasw very dark and although i had a possible,i think i will go back and find it in the light before ticking it!!!
Last night Hornchurch went back to the top of the Ryman Premier,albeit with a 0-0 draw against lowly Harrow,not the best of games but i think this may of been due partly to us playing Grimsby Town on Saturday,COME ON HORNCHURCH

Monday, 9 January 2012

My Red Kite Heaven

Evening all,or morning/afternoon,depending on where you live or when you read this,how are you,i am fine thanks.Started the day with an earlyish start,a quick job to Brentwood,which left me close to South Weald CP,so i popped over for a little stroll to see Goosanders,a winter resident on the lakes,i wasn't dissapointed as there were 6 there,4 males and 2 females,lovely looking birds as well.While there (and time was very limited) my next target bird was Nuthatch,which after a few minutes of searching,i managed to locate,then the usual happens and 3 turn up all at once,goldcrest numbers were good as were tit flocks and corvids,a single treecreeper and a Jay rounded the visit off nicely.
My next job was a drop off at Heathrow,the pick up was conveniently about 1/2 a mile from South weald and within an hour i was empty and leaving Heathrow for the Chilterns where my target bird was Red kite,its not the hardest bird to target,you just head up the M40 from the M25 and you see hundreds of them,in fact,the first one i saw was around Watford on the M25 at the Eastern edge of their range,but nethertheless i decided to head for stokenchurch and Ibstone in particular as this was the first place i had ever seen them in England,about 15 years ago while delivering a fridge freezer to one of the houses there.From Ibstone,you can see a valley with Kites everywhere,its a fantastic view stretching miles and only 15 miles from the M25,a fantastic place is the chilterns and as i had a couple of hours to kill before my next Heathrow pick up i decided to go for a drive around,i heade down the road from Ibstone,a steep descent,just before the descent i stopped to take this photo

 and at the bottom came to a junction,by now lost but decided to head west,cant remember the name of the town but it had a pub called brakespear,a lovely quaint little village in the middle of nowhere,not somewhere you would associate with being 25 miles from the centre of London and 10 miles from the centre of bloody Slough.I parked up by some woodland and the birds were in full voice,i had all your usual finches,tits,corvids all using the woods for their pleasure,the smaller birds using the woodland pools to bath in which was nice to watch,overhead on a ridge were 15-20 kites,i took some photos with my phone,they are crap but just about recognisable as Kites!!!

After a while,was talking to one of the Local Landowners who was out walking his dog,he told me to go up the hill,on a steep,narrow track back to ibstone but the views were fantastic and he said in the woods up the top i may hear Bullfinch,so i went up.As time was closing in on me,i got out the car for about 15 minutes but nothing was really happening,certainly no Bullfinch but as i was about to get back into the car,i noticed a Buzzard,just sitting on the fence about 12 foot away from me,the best view i have ever had of this bird,a truly magnificent sight and one to end a cracking days birding or so i thought.
After picking up from Heathrow,i arrived back at Orsett around 4pm with still around 30 minutes decent light,straight out of Orsett i encountered Little Owl and then 24 Red Legged Partridges in a different field,i also noticed a small Corvid roost i had not previously encountered in some woodland near Parker farm Road,totalling around 5-600 birds,certainly no Buckenham but nice anyway.On the drive home i then had a close Buzzard where i had seen the same bird about a week or so ago and finally another Little Owl to end the day.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Norfolk,a good place to be this weekend....

So it finally arrived,the eagerly awaited BoozyBirders trip to Norfolk,hosted by our leader and Top bird man Howard "the cat" Vaughan.Sam was meeting me at mine at 5.30am but in good old Robert fashion,i was not ready.To be fair,i didn't get in from work till 1.30am so i had every excuse of being late but we managed to get to Brentwood for 5.45am to meet the others.Loaded up with a minibus full of birders and more cakes and savouries than Greggs we shot up the M11/A11 to our first port of call,Thetford Mcdonalds,where i smashed the granny out of a Double Sausage and Egg Mcmuffin and the complimentary Hash Brown that accompanies it.An hour or so later and we was arriving at Cantley,in search of wild Geese,especially the Lesser White fronted goose.On arriving i noticed the front wing of my car was knackered,it turns out that someone had hit me over night,scrapping all my paintwork and causing at least £500 worth of damage,probably a lot more,although with a chip sticvk and touch up it doesn't look that bad.If i find out who it is they are dead,whoever it was had a blue car,just hope its not the ex army northern bloke across the road as he is fucking massive.
Anyway,back to Cantley,we didn't actually stay very long and i dont remember too much about it to be honest as i was still fuming about my car.The usual geese were on parade as were Peregrine,Buzzard and a kingfisher.Anyway,i got a call from Martin Blow who alerted us to the Lesser White front,which was being seen at Buckenham,cheers Martin,shaun et al.
We arrived to a packed Car Park at Buckenham but with some superb driving in my classic 8 seater with buggered wing,we managed to squeeze the old boy in,crossing the rail tracks we scanned the field for the Lesser but no such luck,until Sam Latched onto the bird.You really have to know what you are looking for to id such a bird,i could not tell the difference just by scanning,its only when you look at the birds properly you can tell but a lovely bird all the same.Other geese were some barnacles,a few eqyptians,white fronts and taiga beans.On the scrapes were hundreds if not thousands of "wild" Wigeon,i emphasise the wild as you would not believe they were wild as you walk within 6 feet of them and they seem not to give a hoot about your pressence.Other birds of note at Buckenham were Ruff,Thousands of very active Golden Plovers,Gulls a plenty,corvids a single Skylark and healthy flocks of Linnets.Late morning we nipped to Strumshaw fen where apart from a Marsh tit,we really didn't see anything of note.The wind was howling and clearly affected the place in terms of bird numbers.We stayed there for our lunch in the car park where it was a bit more sheltered and this at least seemed to help bird numbers.We headed back to Buckenham for the rest of the Afternoon where we had more of the same,mainly finding and watching the Lesser white front with some Barn Owl action before Dusk.We then went back over the Railway line and up the road to watch the Corvid roost,what a spectacle it was,i have seen the Ham wall starling roost,which numbered a couple of million plus but this was something else,the noise was unbelievable,definately recommend it and i will be going again,fantastic stuff.On the way out in virtual darkness i managed to get a Little Owl standing on a manure heap,a cracking end to a cracking days birding.
After a couple of hours back at our hotel,the Travel lodge in Acle,we then descended to the Swan Inn in Horning,nice little drive to a lovely pub set on a marina/broad (not sure it was dark but looked wet),we had a fabulous dinner which everyone enjoyed,still not sure how Pat managed to finish it off with bread and butter pudding,but he did and hats off.For what its worth i had King Scallops with braised pork belly for starters,absolute top gear and hunters chicken for main,once again,it hit the spot.Then back to the hotel for a decent nights sleep before day 2..................
Day two,i woke up late again and missed breakfast,not a problem as there was a Spa next door which sold crap,so i reverted to my second pack of savoury mini eggs purchased in Sainsburys Friday,er very nice,not,but did the job.
First port of call was Ranworth for the Ring Necked Duck,DIPPED!! but we did manage a Treecreeper though,another on the year list.After this we went looking for the Great Northern Diver at Rollesby Broad,DIPPED!! But we did manage an Otter and some Goldeneye,worth dipping to see only my second Otter in the UK.From here we headed to a field to find Bewicks & Whoopers,with lunchtime approaching we headed to Tescos in Stalham for some snacks,they had fck all so i bought some more Savoury Eggs,now if you are not in tune with the world of Savoury Eggs then Tescos is the place to go,more meat than Sainsburys.From here we headed to waxham for some seawatching,good job as well as we had plenty of Red Throated Divers,C35 fem common scoters,11 Snow Buntings,Black throated diver,plenty of Kittewakes,Purple Sandpipers,oystercatchers,2 Turnstones,superb seawatch.From here we headed to Hickling and Stubbs Mill for the roost,straight away about 2pm when we arrived were 4 Cranes feeding out in the fields,we got upto 13 but they soon dispersed apart from 2 who hung around for a while.We must of counted 35 Marsh harriers,a lovely Ringtail Hen harrier,3 Merlins,kingfisher,barn owl,redpolls,stonechats,Pink footed geese.We left around 4.30pm with most of us totally knackered after what was a cracking two days,we drove home but i had to stop twice as i was absolutely shattered,arriving home about 7.45pm,many thanks to Howard for organising it and everyone else for a cracking weekend,message to Howard,any chance of another one soon,maybe North Norfolk next time,have passenger vehicle,will and want to travel........

Thursday, 5 January 2012


Bit windy last night and today,hazardous for driving,especially around the poxy M25 which always seems to have a higher proportion of wankers on it than any other road in harsh weather.
Because of work,i haven't really done much Birding today,at least not getting out of my vehicle to look for birds but there have been a few highlights anyhow!!!
My first job was at a local school picking up youngsters and taking them to mile end college.I arrived 20 minutes early and parked up overlooking the school field.I have always liked school playing fields,used to spend most of my youth on them playing football and i would often see all sorts of birds hanging around.In the half hour or so i was waiting,i saw a few different species from 50c Black Headed Gulls,2 Herring gull and a Lesser Black back gull.Star bird was a lovely Mistle thrush with 16 fieldfare,2 redwing and a Green Woodpecker.A Kestrel hovered over the school.Other birds were 6 greenfinch in a neighbouring garden along with 14 House Sparrows and a robin bullying everyone as per usual.
After dropping the kids off at Mile End i made my way through North London (past the emirates) onto Luton Airport,i had a bit of time to spare so stopped off at the Services where i was rewarded with my first Common Buzzard of the year overhead,very large bird,not my last of the day as i managed another 8 on my way upto Luton,then 3 on the way back.Only surprise is that it has taken me 5 days to get it on my year list,such is the explosion of buzzards in the south east the last 10 years.
After getting back from Luton i had a bit of household shopping to do,off to rainham tescos i went and 15 minutes later after an express shop i was on my way home.Had Alice done the same shopping trip it would of taken an hour or so because they walk around dilly dallying,get in,get out,thats my moto.
Driving back through the lanes didnt reward me with anything other than a couple of Mute swans on Berwick Ponds and some Canada geese and the usual wildfowl on the reservoir.
Am currently cuddled up with Princess Isla on the bed,she is very cuddly lately and last week she told me she loved me for the first time,and i love her too
Here is a picture of me and her last night

A Work of Art,shame i look a bit ropey,excuse my nipple!!!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Bloody Partridges

My early morning patch listing over the Ingrebourne Valley took a hit this morning as i had to get up at 3am to drive to Heathrow to pick some customers up,coming in from Lagos,Nigeria,wish i hadn't bothered.My previous experiences of Nigerians are bad,ok there is only one when i worked for a Nigerian company,but it left a sour taste in my mouth with them owing me £2'000,money i have never received and wrote off some years ago.Todays experience was no better,rude and arrogant is the polite words i shall use.After dropping them off,while trying to make small talk with them,letting them use my blackberry phone charger and giving them a good service,they got out the car into their Emerson Park mansion without a thanks or a goodbye,then an hour later the father calls me and says "you got my bag in your car" to which i replied "there's nothing in there but i will have another look anyway for you", "phone me back" he says and the phone goes dead.I go to the car,nothing in there apart from a mouldy banana and tolberone stuck to my seats.I ring him back and say "sorry sir,there is no bag in the vehicle" to which he replies "i have the bag"and puts the phone down,again no thank you etc.Tosser,i have just posted the banana and tolblerone wrappers through the arrogant tossers letterbox,glad he wasn't actually one of my customers as i was given the job by someone else.
I got home about 8am and slept till midday,then decided to extend ones year list further.Still being tired i decided to bird by car for most of the afternoon,visiting farland in the area in hope of partridge,thrushes,raptors etc.First stop was a country lane near me(no Partridges) where i have seen Peregrine before on a pylon and i was rewarded with a first class view of one on a pylon.A good start to say the least and this was followed by a lovely Song thrush in the same lane,i then headed to the thames chase forest visitor centre for a cup of tea and upon parking i had a Sparrowhawk and then a lovely Meadow Pipit on the grass in front of the centre.From here i decided to visit Fen lane(no partridges),this area is farmland with plenty of ditches,hence the name "fen" but there was nothing but c50 fieldfare around.I then headed towards Orsett to a notorious Partridge hotspot,took about 20 minutes but i got my bird,also 20 siskins and a few linnets were passing through.
I then decided on a change of scenary,so headed towards London on the A13 and to Rainham Marshes,i decided to go to Coldharbour lane first where almost immediatly i locked onto the Short Eared Owl,watched it over the sluice for a few minutes before heading up the road to the car park overlooking Aveley bay,i watched for a few minutes where i had 3 Curlew,a number of shelduck,cormorants and teal with the odd Redshank for good measure.Overlooking the reserve there were plenty of gulls but too far for me to check for any unusual ones,not that i would be able to Id anything out the ordinary lol.
From there i went to the Visitor Centre for another cup of tea and a slice of chocolate cake,job done!!!
In the centre a quick scan out the front produced a snipe,which was hard to pick up in poor light but i got it as it was moving otherwise an impossible task.On leaving i had two Ring necked parakeets going back over the Thames to their roost in Bexley.By now it was 3.50pm so i headed towards home via the lanes in the hope of an owl but no such luck although i did encounter a muntjac near berwick ponds.
Since i got home i have been playing with the nipper whose vocabulary seems to be growing every day,instead of calling me daddy,she now calls me Robert or Bob,not sure i am comfortable with either,think i should be given the respect i deserve and she should be calling me dad,daddy or dada.Quite a handful at 21 months she is already,anyway 3 days left till the Boozy Birders weekend away up at Norfolk,starting at Cantley at 8am Saturday,good times and good birds hopefully,especially when our devoted leader Sir Howard Vaughan has his eyes and ears to the ground and skies........Come on H,give us some specials.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Super Hornchurch from The Bridge

Been a few days since my last post,in which time we lost to Canvey Island 4-1,a result that was not on the cards until one of our players was sent off with twenty minutes to go,and us leading 1-0.After that,it went downhill rapidly against what is probably the poorest Canvey Side i have seen in years,certainly since they came back up 4 years ago.Have also done a bit of birding,with my year list underway but the word "bit" should be highlighted as that is about all i have done,more of that later though.
Today,the mighty Hornchurch,still smarting from New years Eves defeat on pig island,took on title Favourites Lowestoft Town,a team with double the playing budget that we have.A seasons best crowd of 450 (around 100 from Lowestoft) Saw the Mighty Hornchurch completely outclass their Suffolk counterparts who won the previous encounter at Lowestoft in August,today we had the upper hand winning 3-0,with goals from Martin Tuohy,who starts a 3 match ban next week for his sending off on New Years Eve,Lewis (better than torres) Smith and Hornchurch's very own Roberto Carlos,Joe Anderson.In truth 3-0 flattered the visitors who were completely outclassed and with Hornchurch having visited all of the top 6 teams away from home must surely now be the title favourites,if not get your money on them as they are a class apart from the rest it would seem.

As for my Birding,I woke up at around 11am on New Years Day after a 5 hour sleep,fresh from working all over Essex in the 8 seater the night before.First stop was over to one of the local patches,Bonnetts Wood,it was very quiet with not much going on at all,plenty of the usual starlings,black head gull,finches,tits etc but nothing out of the ordinary,probably the best two birds were a lovely female Reed Bunting and a Goldcrest but very little else,not even a woodpecker or two.After about an hour i decided to have a drive around the local lanes to see if i could add to the year list but apart from Mallard,tufted duck and pochard on a local pit which i am not supposed to be anywhere near,nothing.

Being only a mile or so from Rainham Marsh RSPB i decided to nip over there for lunch and an afternoons birding,but as soon as i arrived the heavens opened and actually lasted for the next 6 or 7 hours,the small amount of birding i did do there was on the foreshore of the thames and included kestrel,golden plover,redshank to name a few,as soon as the weather got too bad i settled down on a table armed with a sausage roll and a cup of Rainhams finest char and sat down for some Visitor Centre birding where i added Heron and wigeon to my list.After an hour or so in the centre,talking to Howard about our impending trip to Norfolk (YAY!!!) Next Saturday,where he is the expert and i get to drive the expert around and find loads of cool birdies i decided to head to the other end of the reserve just on the off chance of seeing a short eared Owl,this was actually cut short by first,the weather worsening,not really Owl weather although i had seen the Shortie on the 30th December in Rain and secondly a job coming up.

This morning i had a job out of Canary wharf (no canary seen,would be a nice tick lol) and on the way back had a little hunt locally but again nothing to add to the list,no pheasants or Partridge which are usually a given,eventually giving up and heading off to footy around 12.Am off to Gatwick in a minute to pick up a customer,should be in bed by 12.15 and then up and off to Stansted with two of my regulars,Jan and Rich at 5am,may nip over to Stevenage where a Great Grey Shrike has been seen,although it is equally possible that i come back to bed for a couple of hours before heading off to start my Ingrebourne Valley Year List Tomorrow,if i do Bittern and Marsh Harrier will be high on my list of priorities.Happy Birding to you all.Rob