Sunday, 24 September 2017

Local Birding Bonanza

It's rare to miss a Saturday morning on the patch but with a showy Spotted Crake just down the road at Hornchurch Country Park and a juvenile Red-necked Grebe just 10 minutes away at Roding Valley Meadows, it was an easy decision to make.

First stop was Hornchurch, and I had to wait for just over an hour before the Crake put in an appearance, and true to form the bird crept slowly through the vegetation - just a few metres from where I was standing in the fenced off viewing area. The bird seemed totally unfazed by the clicking of cameras from the dozen or so birders on site and walked straight towards us before disappearing into the reeds. After I missed the last local bird in 2013 at Dagenham Chase, it was good to finally catch up with this one.

Hornchurch, Ingrebourne Valley

Hornchurch, Ingrebourne Valley

Hornchurch, Ingrebourne Valley

Hornchurch, Ingrebourne Valley

Next stop was Roding Valley Meadows. I know the area quite well having checked it out in the past (as it's so close to where I live) and to be fair it's a rather pleasant but unremarkable fishing lake, so imagine my surprise when I received news of a juvenile Red-necked Grebe associating with the resident Great-crested Grebes.

If you get the chance to go and see this bird, go and see it - It's an absolute stunner! Most of my previous Red-necked Grebes have always been distant dots on reservoirs in winter plumage, so to see a smart juvenile with that rusty-red neck up close was simply wonderful - Let's hope it sticks around for a bit longer as I'd loved to go back for seconds.


Juvenile, Roding Valley Meadows

Juvenile, Roding Valley Meadows

Sunday, 17 September 2017

A Redstart to beat all Redstarts

There may well be an American Redstart on the Island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides at the moment, but on Saturday morning on Wanstead Flats a Common Redstart gave me as much of a thrill than if I had travelled the 600 miles or so to see its much rarer Yank cousin.

Of all the Redstarts I've seen over the years on the Flats and elsewhere in the UK this was by far the most accommodating I had ever come across. The bird stayed faithful to one Hawthorn tree in the Brooms fields and repeatedly flitted to the ground and then perched up again, happily fly-catching in Autumn sunshine within just three or four metres from where I and the rest of the Wanstead crew were standing. We must have stood and watched the bird for well over an hour and even though migration was in full swing around us, with Meadow Pipits calling overhead and Swallows streaming passed us, all our eyes were transfixed on this wonderfully confiding and striking male Common Redstart.

Here's a little selection of my favourite images from the 200 plus photos I took.

Male, passage, migration

Male, passage, migration

Male, passage, migration

Male, passage, migration

Male, passage, migration


Male, passage, migration


Male, passage, migration