Serin,Isla's middle name...

Serin,Isla's middle name...

Friday, 30 November 2012

Berries Everywhere

Went over Thames Chase today,spent the whole day there from dawn to dusk,well not quite dawn as i stopped on the way,close by to look at Two Buzzards in the field,feeding with a carrion crow,something which i suppose could of been rabbit,it was pink anyway,the day ended with another big bird of prey feeding on Rabbit but more of this later.
Thames Chase has berries,thousands of them,England has Waxwings coming in,Thousands of them,end result is that Thames Chase to my annoyance has no Waxwings,but it does have hundreds of Redwings,Fieldfare,Blackbirds and the odd Song Thrush and i managed quite a few decent shots of Redwing today,including one particular bird which didn't mind me getting too close which is strange as they usually dissapear when they catch you in site.
On the Scrape there was the resident Green Sandpiper,i also saw it this afternoon over the other side of the M25 near the Golf Course,i got a half decent shot this morning but it could be so much better if i could actually see the water from the top as its still overgrown,hopefully this weather will kill the weeds off further so we can view the scrape properly.I also had 4 Mallards and a Grey Wagtail on the scrape and 40 flyover Golden Plover.
Didn't see a Kestrel all day which is quite odd for the site as theres usually a couple knocking about.After lunch i made my first visit this winter,inside the woods and around the Alder Trees and found around 20 of each Redpolls and Siskin as well as a Male Bullfinch beforehand near the entry road when i was talking to John,who has kindly donated a very very big bag of Bird seed for our feeders,thanks John,i know you read this,cracking gesture.Talking of the feeders,i did check them this morning,nothing too unusual,a few tits,finches etc so will keep checking.
Back over the woods i had a cracking Female Bullfinch,not sure how good the shots are but it kept going behind twigs making it hard to photo.I had a wander up Pike lane and while doing so,a boy racer in a Vauxhall Corsa,sped by and shouted Wanker at me,800 yards and about 10 minutes later i approached his car,which had smoke bellowing out from the Bonnet and as i walked past,shouted "who's the wanker now",poor little mite looked all embarassed,wanker.
My day finished with a Goshawk,sadly it wasn't a wild bird but a cracking bird all the same,flying around with his master,got a picture of it,not the best,was probably too close and the light was fading,he had blood all over him,think he had just eaten a rabbit,cracking day out.
Reasonably happy with most of the photos,some i am not but my lense keeps playing up,really starting to get on my tits,problems with focussing,think i need to find a few grand from somewhere and get a new Nikon,bosh.
Busy day at work tomorrow from around 7 in the morning,right through till about 5 the next morning,although i do have a few little spaces for sleep and possibly a couple of hours birding.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Feed the birds

Had another trip over to Thurrock today,started off at Stanford Warren,although not too much was going on,in fact in the hour or so I was there,I saw more in the adjacent churchyard than I I'd on the site,saying that,the wind was up so not too much was seen or heard on he reedbeds.I heard a couple of Cettis and a Stonechat but didn't see either.I had 4 parakeets fly over,2 jays and a Wren.Around the churchyard was a group of 8 House Sparrows,the first I have seen in a few weeks,strange seeing as they were so common in my childhood,sadly on the decline.A green Woodpecker was in the churchyard as were around 20 Fieldfare and 14 Redwing,both seem to be increasing in numbers daily.I could hear Bullfinch from behind the church but couldn't see it.
I made my way to Thurrock Thameside next door,on the road up I had a Little Owl dart across the path,then 5 Stonechat and a couple of Meadow Pipits all before I got to the car park,a couple of Skylarks patrolled the car park.Onto the hide,around 10.30am and although high tide was a good 2 and a half hours away the tide was way in,and the mud in front of the hide was pretty much covered,should of gone earlier!!!
Over on the remaining mud in the basin were reasonably large groups of Curlew,Godwits and Shelduck along with a few Dunlin,Redshank,Teal and the odd grey plover.Quite a few gulls and Cormorants were out in the river but on the whole it was quiet,a single Red Throated Diver was the only bird of significance in the hour or so I was in the hide.On the feeders which are nearly empty was Blue and Great Tit,a Wren and chaffinch,the odd Blackbird and Redwing were around the scrub in front as was a Kestrel.I left and made my way over to Thames Chase for the first time in a week,first thing to do on my arrival was fill most of the feeders up,they had been filled since my last visit but were pretty much empty again,I shot down to the farm down the end of Pike Lane to get some fatballs,suet and Niger seed,I stocked them up and the beds came,a few Goldfinch,which weren't really taking on my last visit,Chaffinch,Great tits,Blue tits etc.Will be interesting to see what starts taking all these delights,hopefully can get some of the more exotic Thames Chase Birds on them,maybe Siskin,Redpoll,or even a Nuthatch if there are some around,we get the odd report,one was even sent to me he other night with a picture so who knows.
I walked around the Top part of the site seeing the odd Siskin,single Redpoll a few Fieldfares,Redwings and Blackbirds and some very noisy Magpies who I later found out had been noisy because one of their mates had been taken and half eaten,probably by a Peregrine or Sparrowhawk maybe,have seen oth hunting in the area and he mess was quite a sight.
I shall be back over first thing in the morning to see what's around the feeders after a cold crisp night,lets hope they are starving hungry.
I have some pictures of today,will add them when I get in from work later,nothing special,could of done them earlier but I was messing around with my 30 day trial of Photoshop,still haven't got a clue how to make pictures look nicer!!!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Dog Walkers v Birdwatchers round 2

Today i got up at first light and made my way to the Essex Wildlife Trust site at Thurrock Thameside.After a bit of heavy traffic and some still flooded roads i arrived around 8.30am,The Entry road to the reserve was closed due to Flooding but luckily you can still park at the bottom and walk onto the site,either through Stanford Warren EWT site,which i chose to do or directly onto Thurrock Thameside.I have never been to Stanford Warren before,although being right next to Thameside i have scanned over part of the site.Its mainly reedbed,apparantly the biggest of its type in essex,it is certainly a decent size,probably at least double the size of my local reedbed at Berwick,which itself is quite a size.I didn't see too much to be honest,the wind was up but i managed a couple of Stonechat and heard at least 4 Cettis warbler,a Great Spotted Woodpecker was near the church where you enter the site.I heard briefly a water rail and had Kestrel overhead.There are a couple of fishing lakes either side at the Stanford end of the site but these were pretty much empty apart from coots.I met up with a couple of older birders who i had met last week and carried on walking round with them,eventually ending up through the sluice and back onto the Thurrock Thameside site via the sea wall and the creek where we had a single Redshank,on the flats were around 40 Curlews but not much else apart from the usual ducks,very quiet.Back on the site we had 3 Kestrels and a Buzzard overhead but there wasn't much small stuff about.We were actually talking about my exploits yesterday with the Doberman when 3 Women with 6 dogs approached us,all off leads again on a nature reserve and one of the dogs charged upto us,snarling as i got closer,i just ignored it and walked past but it kept following me,snarling.It then turned and started snarling at one of the older birders,a retired policeman who told it to fck off,clearly he didn't like dogs,his choice,certainly don't blame him but the owners were chatting as if nothing was happening,certainly making no effort to get the dogs back,by now they were all surrounding him.He Asked them why they were not controlling their dogs and a full blown arguement broke out,i tried to diffuse it but they were a lost cause,i told one of them that people don't always like being approached by dogs snarling,that it makes some people uncomfortable but her response was the norm,he is just playing.To which the old boy said "well take him to play somewhere else" and it all kicked off again,it was left with an exchange of words which went,woman "next time i'll set the fucking dog on you" bloke "next time there will be 6 dead dogs then",a bit over the top and he said he didn't mean it but it shows how the two parties seem not to get on,its often an issue on bird chat forums.Something needs to be done about this as it is a problem in some places.Birdwatchers are asked to stay on paths but why on earth is it considered ok for Dogs and their owners to be able to run amok wherever they sodding well like.
As i made it clear yesterday,its not all dogs and its not all owners but some places are designed for dogs and are dog friendly,nature reserves are not in my opinion,although if on a lead then i see no problem.There are enough local parks that they could walk around,off the lead until their hearts are content,what did they do before this site was open????
From here we walked up to the Thames and parted company,i went in to the hide for a little while but came out twenty minutes later,i made my way to the visitor centre but while having a quick scan i noticed a large group of people appearing to be arguing,they were at it again,not sure how it ended but it looked heated.
I spent the next hour or so chatting to the staff in the reserve,checking what was on the river etc but as soon as the tide went back out i went back to the hide,nothing too much going on,around 20 Scoters were going back up river,a Red Throated Diver was way out and in front of the hide around 15 Curlew gathered and a Single Turnstone,just after,with 2 other blokes in the hide,yet another example of ludicrous behaviour fram said dog walkers,a woman came into the hide,sat down next to me,well about 2 feet away and shut the window i was peering out of,when i said that i wanted it open because it was a bird hide,she said it was too cold and that i should just look through the window,her dog was actually on a lead and well behaved but shouldn't really be in there although this wasn't the issue,the issue was that she was obviously an idiot.I opened the window again and she left shortly afterwards complaining she was cold,tough..I left around 3pm after taking the usual poor pictures and deciding to walk back to the car to see if i could see any Owls,i didn't but tried Stanford Warren briefly,again no Owls.supposed to be a nice,if not cold sunny day tomorrow but then again today was supposed to be nice and sunny and it was actually overcast,cold and sometimes wet.