The Dark Room

Monday 30 December 2019

28th December 2019

On Saturday morning with PH we ringed 23 new birds at our little site. Still no Firecrest but 6 Goldcrest was good as was a cracking 1cy male Yellowhammer- only our 2nd for the site.

 3 male Yellowhammer


Thursday 26 December 2019

Sunday 22nd December

On Sunday morning 22nd December I went along to Snaresbrook to see the Adult Caspian Gull which has returned for another winter in London. I arrived just before 9am in near darkness to be honest but the gull was easy to pick out in the gloom and did show well.

After taking a couple of images I headed back over to the A13 in Barking to try for the Siberian Chiffchaff that's been kicking around for two weeks or so, which did show eventually amongst 11 Common Chiffchaff near the sewage works as you walk down the path on your right hand side.


Monday 9 December 2019

7th December

Another good session on Saturday morning with Hawky. 47 birds processed and 17 new Reed Bunting were the highlights.

3 Female

3 Male

Monday 25 November 2019


Over the last few weeks it's been more birding than ringing for me due to weather conditions - it's been to wet or to windy to put the nets up. On the upside I've visited Rainham Marshes a few times and enjoyed the patch. Rainham however produced the goods on 3rd November when I found a Richard's Pipit flying over calling near the landfill site. It's my second one I've found over RM but my third for the site after twitching  Dave Mo's a few years back, sadly no image for this one, just a quick overhead view of a large pipit, long tail and a Sparrow - like call x3.

24th November

Great to be back ringing with Paulboy yesterday. Filling the feeders up regularly over the last few weeks payed off with 82 birds being processed with just with two nets up. 35 Reed Bunting is really good but for me the highlights were ringing my first Adult male Sparrowhawk and Juv female both stunning up close. Just a few images with the Iphone then it was a quick release.




The male was the first bird we caught and the female later on in the session. With the female being 25% bigger than the male it was he who left his mark on my hand. A big lesson learnt but a ever lasting memory of a top Avian predator up close.

Sunday 3 November 2019

North Norfolk

I spent last weekend up north Norfolk with my wife to celebrate 25 years being together. So, it wasn't full on birding obviously but a mixture of birding, eating out and enjoying some of great pubs on offer - Wiverton Belle and the Dun Cow being our favourite two.

Started at Holkham on Friday afternoon with 3 Great White Egret, Red Kite, Marsh Harriers, 10 Grey Partridges and good numbers of Pink footed Geese but failed to find anything decent amongst the tit flocks sadly. Then it was a quick bite to eat at the Victoria and then onto Walsey Hills for the Yellow Browed Warbler. We heard it several times but in the fading light failed to see it.

Saturday was a wash out bird wise, so it only left Sunday morning to find my own stuff  and that was a bit disappointing considering the time of year. Good numbers of common birds but nothing decent.  However I did get to see the YBW briefly on the way home at Walsey Hills.

 Great White Egret at Holkhan

Monday 21 October 2019

Saturday and Sunday

On Saturday morning with PH we ringed 52 new birds, 22 Reed Bunting and our first Redwings (2) of the autumn were the highlights, along with Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Cetti's Warbler, Song Thrush and Chaffinch.

 Male Reed Bunting 1cy code 3


And on Sunday morning we had a short session at our site with 22 new birds being ringed. Highlights were 9 Reed Bunting, 2 Redwing, Song thrush, 3 Blackbird and another female Blackcap. 

Sunday 6 October 2019

Walthamstow Wetlands

After two failed attempts to help out at the ringing demo at Walthamstow wetlands due to very poor weather on both occasions, it was third time lucky on Saturday. With Paul Roper leading, Paul Hawkins, Daniel Whitlegg and myself  ringed 209 new birds, So there was plenty of birds to show the local birders and visitors throughout the day.

1 Grey Heron
8 Wren
5 Dunnock
4 Robin
1 Blackbird
1 Songthrush
4 Cetti's Warbler
1 Lesser Whitethroat
8 Blackcap
32 Chiffchaff
13 Goldcrest
17 Long tailed Tit
1 Coal Tit
61 Blue Tit
49 Great Tit
2 Greenfinch
1 Hybrid Species - images below

(Firecrest x Goldcrest) ?

Daniel with a Grey Heron 

A busy day for all involved but a very enjoyable one, great to show people what we do and to see so many smiling faces from young and old - and there was a lot of people who came along for a chat/ take photos etc.

Monday 30 September 2019


28th September

A short session on Saturday morning up at Paul R's farm produced 29 new and 6 retraps before the wind stopped play. 5 Yellowhammer being the highlights - stunning birds.

Male Yellowhammer

Thursday 26 September 2019

21st September

Saturday 21st September

A quieter morning than of late with 28 new and 5 retraps. 12 Blackcap, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Jay being the highlights with PH.

3 Male Goldcrest

 4 Adult Jay

Also heard 3 Tawny Owl whilst setting up the nets.

Tuesday 24 September 2019


With Saturdays Great White Egret found in the afternoon on the back pool. it puts my patch year list on 113. Common Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Grasshopper Warbler and Whimbrel being the other latest birds seen on the patch. Last years total was 117 which will be hard to beat? Whatever the final score will be, I'm enjoying the patch.

Monday 16 September 2019

Saturday 14th September

With 50 new birds ringed and 2 retraps on Saturday morning with PH it was another decent session. The bulk again were Blackcap, which are now showing good fat scores. A few weeks ago the average weight for a Blackcap was 17g some on Saturday were at 22g.

3 Female Blackcap


Sunday 1 September 2019

1st September

Sunday 1st September

Another good morning ringing with PH at our little site.

36 Blackcap - all juv
3 Cetti's Warbler
1 Common Whitethroat - Adult
3 Reed Warbler
1 Sedge Warbler - juv 
2 Willow Warbler - juv
2 Long- tailed Tit
2 Dunnock - Adults

Also we had a calling Tawny Owl as we arrived in the dark and a flyover Whimbrel.

Sedge Warbler juv (code 3)

Tuesday 27 August 2019

Ringing update

 20th August

26 new birds ringed.

24th August 

57 new birds ringed highlights were 2 Grasshopper Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher and good numbers of Blackcap.

Juv Pied Flycatcher code 3

Grasshopper Warbler Juv code 3

 GW under tail coverts

26th August

36 new birds ringed plus 1 retrap. Highlights were 25 Blackcap, 2 Reed Bunting.

Thanks to PH as always.....

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Before and after

Thursday 8th August

A successful before work session over in Hertfordshire with PR, PH, Louise and Sunita produced 63 new birds. Good numbers of Garden Warbler again, Blackcaps, some nice moulting Adult Chiffchaff and a Kingfisher was noteworthy.

Garden Warbler

14th August

A after work session at our little site with Paul Hawkins and young Jack produced 30 new birds and 2 retraps.

4 Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and 12 Goldfinch all Juv's were the  highlights for this short session.

Willow Warbler


Sunday 11 August 2019

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper

Great to see all the valley birders at the viewing area yesterday afternoon to twitch Dave Mc's Juvenile Wood Sandpiper. It showed really well along with a Green Sandpiper.

This stunner puts me on 106 for the patch year list.

Sunday 4 August 2019

Over the border

3rd August

It was a fantastic morning ringing session on Saturday with Paul Roper and Paul Hawkins and young Max just over the border in Hertfordshire. A massive 177 new birds were ringed with 75 Blackcap, 13 Garden Warbler, 13 Reed Warbler, 2 Bullfinch plus a few Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat were noteworthy.

Garden Warbler

Common Whitethroat 

Male Bullfinch

All images above taken with the Iphone.

Thursday 18 July 2019

Ringing totals

A quick update of the last few weeks ringing totals.

6th July

Out with PH 35 new birds ringed and 1 retrap. 12 Whitethroat, 7 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest and 1 Cetti's Warbler being the highlights of the short morning session.

10th July  

We made our final visit to the Lea Valley area to check on the breeding Black-headed Gulls/Tern rafts. 5 Black-headed Gull pulli and 1 Common Tern was ringed before work.

Common Tern

13th July

On Saturday I helped out along with PH at Blue House Farm Essex for a ringing demo late afternoon for PR., showing the public some of the common birds that visit the feeders but and more importantly PR to talk about the Brent Geese project and the number of geese that visit the farm over the winter months.

17th July

A great before work session with PR, PH and Sunitha,. 87 new birds were ringed 3 Kingfisher, 5 Garden Warbler, Sedge Warbler and a good haul of Blackcaps being the highlights.

Sedge Warbler (code 4)

Adult Female Kingfisher

All images were taken with the Iphone.

Sunday 7 July 2019

Seville and Mertola

On the 16th June myself along with David Bradnum and Howard Vaughan flew out of Gatwick airport to Seville for 3.5 days of birding dawn till dusk. We started the trip at Laguna La Mejorada which is just south of Seville for Western Olivaceous Warbler and Rufous bush-Robin- which are very smart! Before heading over the border into Portugal where our base was in Mertola. We chose this site as it was close to another of our target species White-rumped Swift. With Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Red-necked Nightjar, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Eagle Owl, Rock Bunting, Blue Rock Thrush, Calandra Lark, honestly birds are everywhere in Portugal.

So for now, here are some images and hopefully when I do get more time I'll share some more info/images of a really good trip.......

White-rumped Swift

Red-rumped Swallow

 White Stork


Montagu's Harrier

Azure-winged Magpie

Night Heron

Crag Martin



Cattle Egret

Greater Flamingo

Whiskered Tern

Rufous-scrub Robin 

Great Bustard

Spanish Sparrow

Iberian Grey Shrike

Griffon Vulture

Black-winged Stilt 

Black-eared Wheatear