The Dark Room

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Common Buzzard chicks

I spent most of Sunday ringing Common Buzzard chicks as part of a project run by Paul R, along with a professional climber, his girlfriend and another trainee ringer. Four trees were climbed with one of them having to be abandoned due to it being unsafe. Five gorgeous chicks were ringed, two by myself with a G' ring. All chicks were in very good condition and all around the same age. Prey was found to be similar  in each nest and definitely no Pheasant was found, which will be good news for the concerned farmers around the country. I used my 35mm lens for the images below, bought for £35 from ebay!

ISO 800

ISO 1000

Add in my first found coughed up Buzzard pellet containing fur and beetles below one of the nests, it was a really good day out-thanks Paul.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Gull ringing

It was a early start on Saturday morning with the NTGG for some colour ringing of Black-headed Gull chicks under the guidance of Paul R. A small team of five were chosen to quickly process and minimise disturbance. With 50+ chicks ringed and none of us falling out of the boat the morning went very well.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Drake Garganey

The patch was packed with new year ticks over the weekend with Yellow Wagtail, Cuckoo, Swift, House Martin, Sand Martin but best of all was a cracking  Drake Garganey that I found on Saturday at the viewing area. It stayed most of the day till at least 4.30pm and at times it was heard calling - smart birds.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Spring Ice

A fairly decent morning on the patch with Lesser Whitethroat and Common Tern bringing the total up to that magical number #100. As I said before it's the best start ever and hopefully a record breaking year.

A quick breakfast and I was back out again but over Rainham Marshes to twitch 3 Iceland Gulls near the stone barges - thanks to Jonathan Wasse for the heads up. I did manged 2 out of 3 with a 2cy and very smart 3cy.

The light was good so used ISO 400 1/2000 f7.1 and some brown bread for a closer view.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Arctic Skua

Despite the dull weather on Sunday afternoon and as I spent most of Sunday at work, I still went out on to the patch to twitch Paul's male Wheatear on Ingrebourne hill #97 - you can't beat a spring male on the patch.

With Barn Owl, Green Sandpiper, Blackcap,Swallow, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler and another fly over Hawfinch, the patch has sprung into action over the last couple of weeks. With my opics getting wet from the rain and no sign of getting another year tick I done something different, I went to Rainham Marshes to check the river. With good conditions I stopped off at Ferry Lane and the first bird in the bins was a cracking dark phase Arctic Skua sitting on the Thames! A good scarce bird for the London recording area.

Only on view for a few minutes before it flew east chasing the Gulls.......

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Iceland Gulls

Just for a change I went along to Beckton Creekmouth Nature Reserve this morning for a spot of Gulling. With a few of the London birders doing well with finding Caspian and Iceland Gulls here, I thought I would give it a go to.

Almost straight away on checking the large Gulls sitting on top of the industrail roofs along the creek was a darkish 2cy Iceland Gull. It stayed only for a few seconds then flew round in a large circle before heading out to the river to sit on the mud past the outflow briely before sadly flying east and was lost to view. This bird has smudges on P10 and P9 which hopefully you can see in the images below - Kumlien's type or just a odd Iceland Gull?

 I started checking through the large group of Gulls sitting on the mud along the tide line but couldn't pick out anything else other than 6 Blackwit, Common Sandpiper and a few Redshank, so I went back and checked the roofs again and found a really pale 2cy Iceland Gull. Armed with slices of brown bread I spun some out for the gull to tempt it  closer which it did so but only briefly before it too was lost to view in the melee. Two white - wingers in a morning in London, I 'm happy with that!

The light was grey and overcast so I've used ISO 800, note the P10 and P9 to the bird above.

The images below are of the second bird, a nice pale bird.

On Saturday afternoon Paul H and Dave Mo had a Iceland Gull here to and checking their images it seems to be another bird..

Sunday, 18 March 2018


Despite the slow start on the patch this week and making daily evening visits without finding or seeing anything new, it took till Thursday evening after work I could actually patch tick something new  in form of a pair of Red-crested Pochard on the reservoir found by Paul Hawkins. With 3 Chiffchaff on Friday in the sunshine, the patch was feeling much brighter than the previous few days.

Saturday we saw the return of the beast from the east with cold winds and snow, But this delivered Golden Plover and a Red Kite  and bird of the week was a stunning Hawfinch that flew into the small wood behind the seat on the hill to roost at 4.35pm. Our first Hawfinch for the year at the valley and only my 2nd for the site. A great bird for any patch and it or another bird was seen on Sunday morning by Dave Mo and Paul Hawkins. So with Hawfinch being my 90th for the year the good form continues here at the Ingrebourne Valley.

Trying to juggle birding and photography has been difficult on the patch as I'm keen to find new birds for the year list and keep ahead of the chasing pack ;)

Dunnock displaying near the viewing area on Friday in the sunshine.