The Dark Room

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Local birding

Rainham Marshes and the Dagenham Chase provided some good local birding again on Monday with the Chase giving up 2 Firecrest, 2 Chiffchaff, male Blackcap, 2 Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail, all showed well but I failed to nail the Firecrest with the lens-shame but cracking birds through the bins.

Rainham Marshes was all about the Short-eared Owls with good views down to about 20m but it was dark and again images were poor at ISO 3200 1/50 so hit the delete button on the back of the camera.

 3 Marsh Harriers were out over Wennington marsh as was this Adult Female below.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Grey Wagtail

Amongst the leaf litter and broken branches that had fallen into the river Rom that flows through the Dagenham Chase NR, this Female Grey Wagtail showed well.

Sunday 20 December 2015

Short-eared Owls again at Rainham Marshes

Spent the last hour of light on Saturday and the same on Sunday afternoon watching the Shorties at Rainham, which is turning into a bit of a obsession with me at the moment. I can't get enough of them........

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Local birding comes good

Started at the Dagenham Chase on Sunday morning in the light rain and very overcast conditions not ideal for photography but the male Firecrest was moving along the river Rom  with two Goldcrest so the camera had to come out of its bag. They're stunning little birds.

 A bit grainy due to ISO 1600 but cracking views  along with Kingfisher, Grey wagtail and a wintering Chiffchaff in with the tit flock.

Then it was off to Rainham Marshes and I wasn't even out of the car when I added a Short-eared Owl to the day list as one stood on a traffic cone out on Wennington Marsh. With the car window down and some record shots of the SEO on the memory card, out of nowhere a calling Dartford Warbler was on top of a bush just left of the Owl. A very welcome site year tick!

Male Dartford Warbler

 A male Marsh Harrier and three Short-eared Owls kept interested the whole afternoon.

Another good day out locally........

Thursday 10 December 2015

Short-eared Owls Rainham Marshes RSPB

Over the last few weeks the views of the shorties on the reserve have been really good probably due to the fact that around seven birds are hunting around the site. On posts, on the deck and I've even seen them box each other when another bird comes in to its hunting territory, its been really good. But trying to photograph them in the dark or rain or they are just to far for the camera lens, has been frustrating, and the fact most of the images have been put into the recycle bin doesn't help. However, you get one bird that makes it all worthwhile.

Handheld ISO 1000 F 6.3 1/200

Sunday 29 November 2015

Great Northern Diver at Fairlop Waters

I enjoyed going to Fairlop Waters on Saturday morning to see the Great Northern Diver which has hung around for seven days now. With a clear blue sky and the sun was behind me when the Diver popped up in front at about 30m away, it was perfect but the fact that my camera was firmly zipped in my bag was not the start I wanted. A few quick handheld shots were made as the diver moved pass in between the large amount of rowing boats which was also enjoying the early Saturday mornings weather, I had to wait another hour before I could grab a few more shots of the best views of a GND that I seen in the London area, as most of my sightings of GND have been at distance on the Reservoirs in the Lee Valley. If time was on my side I would of liked to have spent more time with the Diver but I'd promised our daughter that I go and watch her play Hockey again ( and glad I did they won 2-0 and she scored one ). It does dive for long periods of time and does get moved about a bit, so much so that I'm watching it one minute and the next its over the other side of the lake.  Other than that, a few Siskin over and a chat with Tony Brown from the Wanstead crew, that was it really. If it hangs around I may go again but more than happy with the views.

A great bird to see again and still being able to bird locally makes it much better!

Friday 27 November 2015

Chatting Rainham Marshes RSPB

With a rare day off work today (Friday) and a bit of a lay in I headed to Rainham Marsh RSPB with all good intention of doing the whole circuit but with a few pairs of Stonechat sitting along the side of the boardwalk I did get a bit side tracked and choose to photograph these Chats instead.

The rain stopped play and on the way back to the car I had a quick chat with Dominic M who had two Caspian Gulls 1x1w and a 3rd w near the tip.

 Female Stonechat

 Male Stonechat

Monday 23 November 2015

Ferruginous and Scaup at Dagenham Chase

With work and watching our daughter play Hockey over the weekend I didn't have much time for birding. So I had to make a quick visit to the Dagenham Chase for my weekend fix. Vince pulled out a Ferruginous Duck and a Scaup on the front lake in with a group of Tufted Ducks.

They both showed well but always at range.

Female Scaup

Female Ferruginous Duck

Sunday 15 November 2015

Rough-legged Buzzard

Finally got around to see the long staying Rough-legged Buzzard at Holland Haven CP today with RS in very windy conditions. We watched for over 3 hours sitting on a post in the distance opposite the first hide until two birders flushed it by walking down the farmers track?. So, with some prolonged views of it sitting doing nothing and brief flight views we called it a day.  Not the frame fillers I was after but still a great bird to see in our home county Essex.

Record shot of Rough-legged Buzzard (Essex tick)

Thursday 5 November 2015

In and over

Just for fun I keep a garden list, it stands at a reasonable 80- yes its not a high score for someone who has lived in the same dwelling for nearly 21 years but as I said its just for fun. Two ticks for this year in the garden in as many weeks with a superb Little Owl on 16th October calling and seen on a roof  from the back garden and a Brambling which was more than expected on 1st November which was a fly over. In or over they all count for the garden list. As I look at my list for the garden Waxwing, Crossbill, Green Sandpiper, Lesser Whitethroat are some of the birds seen, I do wonder what's next?

Kestrel above is also on my garden list.

Saturday 31 October 2015

Glossy Ibis at Wat Tyler CP

After enjoying a good morning at Rainham Marshes with 3 SEO, 3 Marsh Harrier and a handful  of Stonechats I  went along to Wat Tyler CP for the long staying Glossy Ibis.

After checking two hides, most of the creeks and fields I relocated it in a small ditch NW of the watch tower. Joined by just 5 other birders the Glossy showed down to about 30 foot. The light though was awful as it shone right in your face and making it back lit but great viewing for us all.

Glossy Ibis 31st October and a Essex tick..........

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Great day Shrike

After enjoying the Firecrests at the Dagenham Chase on Saturday afternoon with Martin Blow. We both went along to Dagnam Park in Harold Hill to see the excellent inland record of Great Grey Shrike found by Colin Jupp and to our amazement we were first on site and to the delight of Colin we managed to got some record shots of his cracking find. The bird was always mobile, perching high up in the trees but gave good views.

A long awaited London tick for me.......


Sunday 25 October 2015

Firecrest at Dagenham Chase

I've spent over five hours this weekend trying to photograph the three Firecrest that Vince found at the Dagenham Chase just along the footpath near the river Rom. At times they showed very well but always in the darkest parts of the scrub area. Associating will the tit flock which included some Goldcrest and a Chiffy but always returning to the Ivy and Holly bushes. At some points I didn't see them at all for long period time but when I did - WOW!

ISO 1250 to 1600 is not ideal but a must due to the poor light under the canopy of trees, so the images look  a bit grainy.

Other birds seen were Kingfisher, Bullfinch, Grey wagtail and my first of the autumn Brambling.

Friday 23 October 2015

Short-eared Owl

I made a impromptu visit to Rainham Marshes RSPB after work on Thursday evening due to Howard Vaughan calling on the phone saying that there was a Glossy Ibis somewhere on Wennington Marsh. After checking the area and the ditches with no sign and being teased by 2 Short-eared Owls and then 3 close by in the fading light, I made the decision to concentrate on them instead of adding the Ibis to the RM year list.

Watching the Owls just float by in search of voles sometimes close but never close enough and even sitting down on the deck waiting for the next attack from the corvids was superb.

Unfortunately photographic wise, slow shutter speeds doesn't help flight shots BUT the whole experience out ways the end product for once...

Sunday 18 October 2015

A weekend at Rainham Marshes

After working most of Saturday I still popped over to Rainham Marshes for a hour or so and a Short-eared Owl was my bird of the day. A brief fly over but a good year tick for my RM year list.

Sunday morning was slightly different as I enjoyed good views of 4 Bearded Tit.

Along with 5 Stonechat

3 Kingfisher was also noted and 5 Redpoll sp over and a Green Sandpiper was still near the Stone Barges.

Its the first time though I noticed that one of the local Kestels has a BTO ring, see photo below.

You can just see the ring on its left leg but sadly unable to read the number. All images of the Kestrel were from the car window.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Little Grebe at Rainham Marshes

Here are few shots of Little Grebes taken from the MDZ hide at Rainham Marshes on Saturday afternoon as the light is behind you at that time and makes photography a bit easier. Although you have to poke the lens through the timber uprights at the viewing platform it was nice to just relax and enjoy watching them up close as they dived for small fish, catch a couple then return to the safety of the far reed bank.

Adult Little Grebe