The Dark Room

Tuesday 27 December 2016

27th December

Spent a couple of hours over Rainham Marshes this morning with the highlights being: 2 Short-eared Owls, 3 Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, 500 Dunlin, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Snipe, 50 Redshank.

Short-eared Owl from the Serin mound

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Yellow-browed Warbler

It's been a fantastic year for Yellow-browed Warblers being recorded up and down the country and with a few records locally  it was the best chance for me to finally add it to my Essex and London lists. So Sunday morning I finally went to twitch one in Wanstead -first one I've gone for, and all I had to do was get off my lazy arse and enjoy the little Siberian gem from the east that Nick Croft found in the week. And being the gent he is he waited for me to arrive and show exactly where to find it- cheers Nick.

With the bird calling on arrival it didn't take to long either for cracking views of it on the island at Alexander lake and with just four birders in total on a sunny morning  it was more than pleasurable and with the other Wanstead birders all putting a good shift in, no doubt I'll be back watching another good bird. Or I might even find one myself having enjoyed their patch so much!

Not great shots but to just hear and even glimpse one in London/Essex I'm more than happy, so these record shots are a extra bonus.


Sunday 20 November 2016

Forster's Tern then mine

On Saturday afternoon when the news broke of  a 1st winter Forster's Tern showing well at Mistley Quay in my home county of Essex , I was watching my daughter play hockey, while others of towie were enjoying superb views of this north American rare. So, Sunday  morning I pick up Martin Blow still smelling of the nights before dinner and beers we turn up to find the tide was out, Arse!

Anyway after some serious searching we couldn't refind it and retreated to the very nice pub that served breakfast called The Mistley Thorn but as soon as our gourmet breakfast arrived the phone when off saying Forster's Tern still west of the Quay, Arse!

We follow the other birders out of the pub and nick the last space in the car park by the rail crossing and connect with of prize that shone and lit up the grey sky and estuary. With good scope views and what looked like it was heading back to the Quay, we too headed back and luckily enough it gave us a much better view and a chance to get a record shot.

Other than counting Pintail by the Quay while waiting for the Tern to show again that was it.(twitching at it's best)

Thursday 10 November 2016


Last Saturday was very similar to the one before, in that  I visited Rainham Marshes, heard a bird call before seeing it but this time it was a Dartford Warbler. Another good bird for the reserve and hot on  the heels of the Dusky Warbler  and self found which is very rewarding as you would expect. It was in the gorse bushes just past the Serin mound on the left, but as soon as it was on view in the bins it flicked down in the brambles below the path and stayed out of sight while I tried to get a record shot.

And just like last week I failed to get any images of the day, so here is one from Iceland where there was no problem getting one.

Meadow Pipit

Sunday 30 October 2016

Dusky Warbler east of stone barges

Having spent 8 hours at work on Saturday, I was looking forward to getting out over Rainham Marshes late afternoon. I kicked off with a Adult Yellow-legged Gull on the foreshore at Aveley bay and 3 Stonechat along the way towards the stone barges. Checking the river again I pick out 2 harbour porpoises mid river- good record for here.

Back on the path heading to the stone barges Reed Buntings and Chaffinches were moving through the small narrow bushes on the right hand side and a few Robins.Then something called 'teck' 'teck' from the bushes close to the green metal fencing then again 'teck'- what the bloody hell is that!. Then a little brown job is moving its way up through a hawthorn bush after not seeing anything for minutes, I get a glimpse of a big supercilum going over its eye Dusky Warbler get in!. A quick check on google on call and ID that I'm not going mad and I put news out to the local birding group and via Twitter.

What seemed like forever Paul Hawkins , Dave Mo, DDL, Steve Smith and some other guy turn up when the Dusky is still calling and showing briefly. Such a relief when others get to see your rare find, that is a 2nd ever record for London and 1st record for Rainham Marshes RSPB.

With the light fading and still no images from any of us, luckly DDL got some good sound recording of it, it was job done.

Sunday morning arrives with a extra hour lay in and so does news that the Dusky Warbler is still present but further along from the barges in the fog, I go back again along with 50+ birders and some familiar faces around we all get descent enough views of this little gem from Siberia.

With Paulboy finding a Grey Phalarope on friday at Coalhouse Fort and Tony Brown finding  Great grey Shrike is been a very good weekend for the east London birders......

Sunday 23 October 2016

The Long and Shore of it

After birding the valley and Rainham Marshes for the last few months it was nice to go somewhere else for a change. So along with Russell Sheriff we made our way to Kent and started off at Recuvler, as we walked past the towers about 200m a Lapland Bunting  flew up calling and landed on the sea wall then dropped down on the beach again. With the camera still in the bag I was lucky to get a record shot of it as it quicky moved on.

1w Lapland Bunting

A bit further down from the towers the 2 Shore Larks were feeding on the shingle and showed really well in the strong wind on Wednesday morning. Cracking birds!

And just like the Lap Bunt the larks moved on further down the beach and so did we for a quick cup of tea in the nearby cafe. Next we drove to Oare Marshes for the Long-billed Dowitcher which showed well from the roadside which was my second one here for the site having seen one a few years ago.

1w Long-billed Dowitcher

Saturday 8 October 2016

Bearded Tits

I was out looking for Ring Ouzel this morning near the stone barges end of Rainham Marshes but I could only kick up a single Wheatear. On the reserve 11 Bearded tits near the dragonfly pools were on the move but this male paused for a few moments between the reeds.

Monday 29 August 2016

Turtle Dove

A short weeks break in Ibiza staying at the resort Santa Eulalia del Rio produced Audouin's Gull, Sardinian Warbler, Serin, Spotted Flycatcher and Turtle Dove all from the hotel gardens. With up to six Turtle Dove seen daily and probably the best views I've had of this normally shy small dove, here are some images below.

Monday 8 August 2016

Gaps in the ice

Like I said in the last few blog posts about Iceland I did take a lot of images but still there were some gaps in the short trip. Raven, Redwing, Glaucous Gull, Redpoll were all seen but either to far away or just down to myself not getting a clear view/not good enough or like the Red-breasted Merganser that Jono suppressed while I was photographing something else I had some gaps from the trip but more than happy with the images that I did get .

Here are some more of them...


Arctic Tern


Arctic Skua

Red-throated Diver

Thursday 23 June 2016

Waders in Iceland

With so many images taken on our recent trip to Iceland here are some more of the waders seen in probably my favourite birding break to date. Many thanks to Jono for sorting out the logistics. It really was amazing place to visit!




Red-necked Phalarope

Golden Plover

Black-tailed Godwit


Tuesday 21 June 2016

Harlequin Duck in Iceland (part 4)

We only counted three Harlequin Ducks all weekend but boy are those males smart, stunning and a tick for me to. This pair were on a fast flowing river with the sunlight behind them making hard to get the right exposure, add to the fact both birds were very wary of us and the afternoon light was harsh for photography, so we just sat there with our bins glued to our eyes......

With only these two images to show I just might just have to go back and have another crack at them one day.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Common Snipe in Iceland (part 3)

There was plenty of Snipe seen in Iceland on posts,diplaying and making that lovely 'drumming sound' they do with their tail feathers even up till mid-night Jono and I enjoyed all these below  from our hire car window which was our mobile hide for the all to short bank holiday weekend.

Sunday 12 June 2016

Red-necked Phalarope in Iceland (part 2)

These tiny little waders were on most pools and steams we looked at and sometimes just by the roadside in not much more than a small puddle.With not much cover around they would tuck into the edge of the pools and just sit tight just below your feet giving amazing views!.

With loads of images taken, here are just a few and will probably do another blog on them?

The idea was to get low down to the pools or streams and get a clear background and also try to get some nice mirror like images.


Sunday 5 June 2016

Iceland ( part1)

This time last week Jono and I were enjoying the amazing landcape and excellent birding/photographic opportunities found in Iceland and with good weather we made the best of the long bank holiday. Lots of images still to go through and here are just a few to start  with.....

We met up with a local birder/police officer just by chance one afternoon and he passed on info for Slavonian Grebe,12 in total on varoius pools but  this one showed nicely.

Up to six male Ptarmigan seen over the three days these two being the best and were just by the road side.

To hear these Red-throated Divers calling was a first of me and they to showed well to.

It really was a good weekend!