The Dark Room

Thursday 29 December 2011

Southend Pier revisted

I enjoyed myself so much the other day at Southend pier, today I returned again but this time with my family and Martin Redfern family too. We parked at Chalkwall and made the long walk to the pier in very windy conditions. Once at the pier the wifes and kids headed to the tea rooms and myself and Martin headed over to see the Purple sand still sitting there in the same place as the other day. As it was so windy it was just nice to get some flight shots of the gulls with some ok results. After fish and chips for lunch,we were all treated to a Starling spectacular as we watched hundreds of Starlings go to roost making all sort of shapes as they whizzed over head.

2rd Winter Med gull

1st Winter Common gull

Adult Kittiwake

The Purple Sandpiper only stayed for about five mins while we were there



Tuesday 27 December 2011

Southend Pier

Today I went out with Paulboy and Roger for a couple of hours at Southend. Started off with taking pictures of the Sanderling and Turnstone along the front and then caught the train to the end of the pier for great views of the Purple Sandpiper in roost with the Turnstone and of coarse the beautiful Med Gulls. Took a lot of photos today so here are just some of them.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Birding at work

I've been busy working all week and all weekend, so not had time to do much birding. However Wednesday lunchtime I had 2 calling Crossbill go over where I was working in South Ockendon. This got me thinking what else I've seen while at work. Well, I am not talking about twitching the Brown Shirke in my lunch break the other year. I mean just by chance looking out of the window or driving to and from work. Here are some birds that I've seen at work : Osprey,Marsh Harrier,Bittern,Red Kite,Med Gull,Waxwing.

Waxwing on my seen list while at work ;)

Sunday 11 December 2011

Western Sandpiper at Cley

I made my way up to Norfolk yesterday morning to twitch the Western sandpiper at Cley NWT and almost never made it, as my car hit some ice on a bend, for a few seconds it seemed like I was reversing the last two miles there!! Once there though things were much brighter as the sandpiper showed well with a group of Dunlin on a small spit. I was so carried away watching the peep I forgot to take some record shots of it. To me it looked like a well marked miniature Dunlin but fed much more active. I must say I'm glad it stayed as I could'nt get up there last weekend and thought it might do a Friday night bunk. The Green winged teal was on show all the time and both birds were worth the four pound fifty paid for the privilege. After that I stopped off at a few places on the way to Titchwell to try for the Arctic Redpoll but time wasn't on my side as it showed once I left Norfolk after I was there for two hours freezing in the cold. Oh well.....

The Green winged teal at Cley (Pauls ex bogey bird)



Black headed gull at Cley

One of many Robin at Titchwell

Thursday 1 December 2011

Making the headlines!!

Dave, Paul and myself made headlines this week in the Barking and Dagenham Post. Well, not actual headlines page 30!! promoting Barking bay and the birds that can be seen there. So if you have not been there before come along on Saturday morning at 11.00am and the three of us are leading a walk around the site.

Sunday 27 November 2011

High tide count

Today myself and Martin Redfern helped out on the High tide wader count. Organised by Dave Mo. We done ok considering the windy conditions. So here are the results. 415 Dunlin,321 Black tailed Godwit,40 Redshank,4 Lapwing,7 Snipe. Also at the Stone Barges were Rock pipit and a very smart Water pipit. These photographs show how important structures are for roosting birds at high tide and need safe guarding.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Barking Bay

I visted Barking Bay again at the weekend and have started to enjoy this great site. Over the months and years Dave and Paul have found some great birds and I hope that I can too in the future as I am going to visit the Bay more often. I will still bird the Valley aswell and by having these two sites it keeps me interested enough to bird more locally, instead of travelling miles in the car for a days birding.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Short - Eared Owls

With calm and bright conditions this afternoon I choose to go look at the Short- Eared Owls at Rainham Marshes instead of going to see the Humes yellow brow in Suffolk which I still need, and to be honest I can wait for tick. Four Owls were on show and two of them showed really well. One of them marking a very unusual noise when it saw me sitting in the long grass as it went over my head. It beats sitting in the car for five hours any day. So the Humes will have to wait.

(click on photos to enlarge)

Monday 14 November 2011


On Sunday most of my time was watching our daughter play hockey at Wimbledon in a tournament but I still managed to get out and see two Short Eared Owls. Although it was nearly dark, here are some record shots.

Sunday 13 November 2011

Ring ring

Standing on a rubbish tip early on a Saturday morning is not everybodies cup of tea! But I really enjoyed myself, so here are few more photos from the ringing session at Rainham Marshes landfill site.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Gull ringing at Rainham Marshes

Firstly I would like to thank Paul Roper and the North Thames Gull group for a fantastic day spent at Rainham Marshes landfill site, where I was able to take part in ringing gulls. Once Paul went through health and safety, I was able to see the experienced ringers go about there work. Before we even started I noticed a group of Swans going West, which turned out to be 8 Whopper Swans a great start for the day. Also a 1w Caspian Gull put in a brief appearance too. It was great handling and seeing the gulls close, from start to finish it was fun, educational and gave a real insight to gull ringing and something I would like to carry on doing in the future.

The nets laid out and ready to go

A Lesser Black backed gull leaving its mark on my arm

Yellow legged gull

While the others went back, Paul boy, David Callahan and myself waited for our lift back and it was a real stroke of luck as we watched six Yellow legged gulls and a cracking Adult Mediterranean Gull all feed on the fresh rubbish which had just been dumped. While the lorries were moving back and forth the gulls would move out of the way but the Med Gull would always return to the same spot.

Yellow legged Gull

Saturday 5 November 2011

Short eared Owl surprise

On Friday night, we held our local bird meeting up the pub. I say meeting, its just the local birders getting together and having to many beers and eating takeaways that we would not order, if we were sober. As the meeting or piss up went on till late, I didn't have a early start on the patch. The Valley didn't throw up any surprises, just 12 Redpoll, Fieldfare and 4 cracking Bullfinch were the highlights.So I went home for bit of lunch and about 3.30pm made my way to Rainham Marshes to look for Short eared Owls as Dick had a couple last week. Within minutes I had 3 birds hunting in front of me, not close but really great views, Poor light for pictures but stunning views.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Late Wheatear at Rainham Marshes

A couple of hours at Rainham Marshes this afternoon just along the foreshore, where this confiding Wheatear showed down to about 3 Meters. I think it looks good for Greenland. What do you think? Also seen Spot Redshank,Grey Plover and a couple of Dunlin being the Wader highlights.
(Click on to enlarge)

29 years ago was the first time I saw a Wheatear and still enjoy watching them