The Dark Room

Monday, 29 May 2017

Grasshopper Warbler

The sound of a mechanical sir'r'r'r'r'r'r... reeling Grasshopper Warbler deep down in cover seems to have been the norm lately but on Saturday morning I finally had good views of one. Although it was a bit distant for the 400mm lens I'm just happy to see one this year after blanking for the last few weeks.



Sunday, 14 May 2017

Brown hare

Normally the view you get of a Brown hare is one of it's rear running away fast in the distance across a field but on Saturday morning this Hare broke all the rules. Defiantly the best views I've ever had.




ISO 400 1/640 plus 1 stop and used the  mono pod and slowly crawled along the path.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Singing Quail at Rainham Marshes - is that your phone?

Rainham Marshes continues it's good run of form with a singing male Quail on the hill 100m West of Aveley car park on Saturday 6th May, my 2nd for London but my first self found. The first one was found by Paul Hawkins at Rainham Marshes  on 5th May 2007. I started off at around 9.30am from the car park with 2 Northern Wheatear and a cracking male Stonechat along the metal fence line. After checking the river with nothing noteworthy I concentrated on the large over head passage of common Swifts only to be interrupted by a call ( 'wet-my-lips' ) which was repeated 3 times -it's a bloody Quail!

Quickly after my excitement two birders came walking towards me, one being James Heal from Wanstead who was looking at his phone? Is that your phone James? and before I went in to detail the Quail called again- phew! A scarce bird nationally but a good one for London and therefore twitched by many over it's 3 day stay.

Sadly no images of the Quail unlike the 5 Whimbrel on the same hill that did show quite well.






Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Face off

With light showers on and off all day yesterday I did hope to find some more newly arrived migrants late afternoon but more than happy to find this Short-eared Owl drying out in the long grass. Not close but still cracking views. Watching it preening and cleaning itself to get ready to start hunting after getting wet was a great way to end the bank holiday, specially when a male Pheasant walked past and stopped to have a face off like boxers do before a fight and carried on walking by - quite comical!







Monday, 1 May 2017

89

With Peregrine, Cuckoo, Egytian Goose, Swift, Hobby, House Martin, Wheatear and finally Mistle Thrush added over the bank holiday, the patch year list stands at a gigantic 89 for the Ingrebourne Valley. Yep, it's the 1st of May and Mistle Thrush is my 89th - no rules on when you see them, just as long as you do.

Missing though is Grasshopper Warbler, Garden Warbler and Whinchat the latter is one of my favourites so I had to go to Rainham Marshes RSPB to get my annual fix Sunday afternoon. Not a great image below but happy to see 3 together and spring males are just stunning to look at......


In between the grass that's a male Whinchat

Sunday, 23 April 2017

In the bag

With Whimbrel, Common Tern added on Friday evening at Rainham Marshes plus Yellow Wagtail and Corn Bunting late Saturday afternoon it was just nice to unlock the camera from its bag and get a few keepers for what seems like months. So much so when my first Whimbrel of the year flew towards me on Friday the camera was still in the bag but I did managed to keep one of the images from the 10 fired off the camera. However on Saturday with the camera unlocked , 10 Wheatears near the tip provided some good photo opportunities and even better to hear the male Wheatear below singing which is something you don't hear often in London bird recording area was a real bonus too.





Whimbrel

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Red

The last seven days birding the valley have been a big improvement of recent weeks, what with the successful twitch of the Jack Snipe mid- week found by Dave Mc which showed nicely from the viewing area and only my third in over 23 at the Ingrebourne and the fact that migrants are now  trickling through.

Saturday morning I started at the viewing with 3 Green Sandpiper and 3 singing Willow Warbler and 1 Reed Warbler and then made my way to the small paddock for a  Redstart or a patch tick Ring Ouzel? but instead more than happy with a tatty Red Kite as it drifted west towards the reservoir. As I high fived the dog walkers, joggers and those who were riding bikes as I crossed the black bridge a male Common Redstart fanned out its beatuiful red tail like a pack of playing cards as it was being chased by a Robin. A all to brief view but a close one of a good patch bird. (77)

 Jack Snipe


 Thanks to Nick Croft for the use of his camera for the after work/dinner mid-week twitch.