Friday 9 April 2010

It's about time!

Avocet, Elmley

This morning negative news came out on the Rainham Black-winged Stilt, and I was pretty cheesed off. Despite this, Phil and I headed up to that area for general birding in the area.

Our first stop was, naturally, Ingrebourne Valley for what I thought would be another dreadful failure in finding my main tart bird (at least I would be able to add it to the long list I give to people who say 'You still need Gropper!?!?' which is full of places I've tried in desperate attempts to tick off my main tart).

To our surprise, we managed to find the right spot (even though directions were really dodgy) and after a short while I heard the distinctive reeling song of the Grasshopper Warbler and called Phil down.We enjoyed close range views of the bird as it sang, though it was elusive most of the time.

Unfortunately, Phil wasn't quite quick enough to get a shot of it, and it moved before I could digiscope it but I did get a really dodgy shot with Phil's SLR that I'll put up when he sends it to me. I was just elated to finally connect with this embarrassingly tarty species (a very nice one at that, my sort of bird) and relieved to have such a big weight off my chest as a result (also it was convieniently in London).

Other birds in the area included my first Common Whitethroats of the year (a pair and a solitary singing male), a handful of Cetti's Warblers, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs.

We made a very brief trip to Dagenham, failing to locate yesterday's Ring Ouzel then Rainham, which ended up just being lunch in the cafe, before heading off to Minster, Sheppey to have a look for another Ring Ouzel (Phil's main tart bird). This also failed and the only birds of note were an adult and a 1st summer Mediterranean Gull.

A drive up and back again along the Elmley RSPB entrance track produced little of note, but it was nice seeing the nesting Redshanks and Lapwings close up and seeing large congregations of Curlew. A showy Brown Hare kept us occupied for a few minutes. Scanning from the toilets, 4 Avocets, a year tick, were noted before heading home.

And a couple of photos of one of the 3 Northern Wheatears that were at Canons Farm yesterday . . .

. . . and one from Wednesday, when 5 were on site together . . .