Sunday, 31 August 2014

The first fall of Autumn

After an evening celebrating a friends 40th birthday I could easily have stayed in bed this morning but for once the decision to drag myself out was the right one, and before 8.00am I was enjoying good views of four Spotted Flycatchers and a smart Common Redstart on Wanstead Flats - this was a prelude for the rest of the morning with a decent fall of migrants scattered all over the Flats.

It's always hard to exactly summarise the total number of birds involved (I'll let Mr Croft figure those numbers out) but I alone saw over 10 Spotted Flycatchers, 5 Common Redstarts, 8 Wheatear, 3 Whinchat, 6+ Lesser Whitethroats, Tree Pipit, and a couple Yellow Wagtails, add into that mix good numbers of commoner Phylloscopus and Silvia Warblers and a small passage of Hirundines and this starts to paint the picture of the mornings birding.

Any regular birder of Wanstead Flats will tell you it's not always like this and at times it can be a real drudge and effort to pull yourself around the Flats without any reward, but when you do get a warm sunny Autumn morning like today, surrounded by fly-catching migrants those dark, cold, wet and windy February mornings soon disappear to the back of your mind.

The only thing missing today was possibly a Wryneck but there's still time this Autumn to add one of those to this years totals, hopefully continuing the run of years this scarce migrant has graced Wanstead Flats.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Wasp Spider, Rainham Marsh

After a particularly heavy Saturday night in town with friends it was midday before I managed to get out for some air in a bid to try and clear my head, and a circuit of Rainham Marsh in search of passage waders was as good a hangover cure as any - and it seemed to have the desired effect. Not only was I starting to feel better but finding 5 Greenshank, 7 Black-tailed Godwit (one of which was colour-ringed), 4 Green Sandpiper and a Whimbrel was worth the toil in the mid-afternoon heat.

Whilst walking around the reserve I also kept an eye open for Scarce or Yellow-legged Tortoiseshell butterfly, although I found and photographed several Small Tortoiseshell there wasn't any sign of those possible channel hoppers from Holland - although a single Clouded Yellow was a nice bonus.

Another bonus from the walk was discovering a striking Wasp Spider close to the footpath at the start of the northern boardwalk near the shooting butts hide. This large female with its unmistakable black and yellow stripped abdomen looked as if it had just devoured another grasshopper and was just hanging around waiting for her next victim - you can't fail to be impressed with these southern european invaders as they continue to expand their range north.

Rainham Marsh RSPB

Rainham Marsh RSPB

Rainham Marsh RSPB