The Dark Room

Friday 30 March 2012

It's a F-ing White tailed Eagle

Well myself and Paul Hawkins were working at Chadwell St Mary, Essex today and have been the last few days. As the nature of our job we often pop out of the customers house and get materials from the van etc, so it's often we get to look up and may see Sparrowhawk or Buzzard but yesterday, we had a work tick in the form of a Red Kite. Anyway whilst on our lunch break Paul picks up a Raptor and as we checked the patch on the way to work this morning we had our bins with us. So the Raptor circled and made its way towards us. No comments from either of us at that point as it was too far away. It still kept coming towards us and then circled again and then I played catch phrase "say what you see it's got a short tail", then it got closer. "Hmmmm what the hell is it?" I said, Paul was quiet still. Then we both said "It's on flat wings", the wings are broad, not much of a tail. I said "Vulture?" because of its now apparent size. I don't know why I said that but I did. Then I shouted "It's a F***ing White - tailed Eagle" and Paul replied "It's a barn door". Although high up it was massive and to compare size a large gull went underneath it, not close but the WT Eagle dwarfed it. Underneath it was a muddy brown colour with some white, very broad wings and the tail was wedged shaped, huge in size. An immature is what we aged it at. Its right wing had some primaries missing. It made its way west and then out of view. We both made calls to local birders to get news out quickly so people could get onto it and also RBA services and Twitter. I've seen WT before and Paul has too , we are more than a 100% confident of the ID. Remember todays date 30th March, we will for a long time.......

This photo was taken a couple of years ago in Scotland by me of a White Tailed Eagle, but it shows you the silouette is unmistakable. The one today was far more higher up.

Monday 26 March 2012


Like most birders I own plenty of bird books and I actually read them instead of looking at them like ornaments on the shelf, but you can't beat being out in the field and being so close to birds as I've been when helping out with the North Thames Gull Group. I've learnt so much more and have a better understanding of ageing gulls now. You just don't stop learning do you? Below are some more shots of the Kumlien's Gull, What cracking bird and a day that many won't forget!!

Myself and Paul with two Lesser Black- backed Gulls, the one that I am holding is a bird that was rung in Norway.

Saturday 24 March 2012

Kumlien's Gull at Pitsea

Here are just a few shots of the 2w Kumlien's Gull seen at Pitsea today. Where I was helping out with the North Thames Gull Group. It's amazing to think that myself and Paul Hawkins saw this bird at Rainham last weekend and this weekend we were treated to such great views again. It's a cracking looking bird and it's the first Kumlien's Gull to have been rung in the UK. Thanks to Paul Roper and his team for a day that I will not forget in a very long time......

Click on photos to enlarge

Sunday 18 March 2012

Wheatear in top paddocks

After all week trying to get a Wheatear on the patch, today was the day. A pair together in the top paddock. These two are the Ingrebourne's first for the year here,
but like all the first records of the year they like to stay away from the camera. Over the next few weeks, I like most birders will try to get some better pictures of
these cracking birds.

A male Wheatear keeping its distance

Red legged Partridge in the paddock too, this one is my first photograph I've managed to get, as so many are normally seen in flight over the Valley

A Hare was also seen in the paddock

I also popped over Cely Wood and had 2 Peregrine go over although very high up.

Saturday 17 March 2012

Kumliens Gull and Iceland Gull

Had to get up early this morning as I was working and wanted to check the paddocks at the Valley for Wheatear as like most mornings this week, but with no luck. So as I was checking for Wheatear, Paul phone me to say he had got the 2w Kumliens Gull and the 1w Iceland Gull on the foreshore west of the Stone Barges. I said the F word a few times and jumped in the van and headed for Rainham. Luckily they stayed and we had great views of both, especially the Kumliens Gull as it flew over our heads giving us superb views and sitting on the rails next to thr Barges. Firstly thanks to Dom for finding them on Friday and to Paul Boy. Cheers lads......

Photograph by Paul Boy Hawkins

Sunday 4 March 2012

Still Snowing

Here a few more images from Salthouse the other weekend. As this weekend I managed to NO photos at all due to poor weather and fact that I missed the Iceland Gull at the Stone Barges and the Water Pipit and Peregrine were both distant.