Monday, 19 May 2014

Garden Warbler woes

There's no shame in admitting that on occasions I've struggled to separate the song of Garden Warbler and Blackcap - why? Well basically I just don't hear enough singing Garden Warblers each spring to completely familiarise myself with the subtle differences in each of the birds songs.

Therefore having two very vocal Garden Warblers on Wanstead Flats at the moment, both belting out their slightly rushed but continuous (when compared to Blackcap) fluty song has been a bit of bonus and more to the point a little re-education, especially when they're within ear-shot of the more numerous Blackcaps. I spent over an hour listening to the bird currently frequenting Long Wood in hope of the song finally sticking in my head long enough to recall another one in the near future. The problem is, I most likely won't hear many more this summer, and then next Spring comes around and the process starts all over again, and I have to re equate myself with those subtle differences once again!





Saturday, 10 May 2014

Starstruck butterfly

As with many of other birders, I have more than a passing interest in nature and in particular anything that takes to the skies - whether that be: bats, dragonflies, bees, moths or butterflies (non-bird related post coming up!).

I was aware of the small population of Green Hairstreak butterflies on Wanstead Flats but I've never taken the time to properly seek them out, so given my luck recently (see last but one post) on the birding front, I took it upon myself to track these little beauties down - and what stunners they are, especially close up. Concentrating my search around the Hawthorn trees - now looking their best in full bloom. I soon found what I presume were two males chasing each other in the sun, before long I had six Green Hairstreaks around one Hawthorn tree. Apart from the obvious emerald green underwing, which flickered turquoise in the light, what struck me most were the white framed Judy Garland-esque bug eyes - for a short while I was definitely starstruck by their beauty!

Butterflies

Butterflies

Butterflies

Butterflies


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The sounds of Rainham Marsh

Do birders still get up early or do they just wait on news before setting off for the day? I only ask because it must have been nearly 2hrs and around 8am before I saw another birder on Rainham Marshes Sunday morning - still, nice to have the place to myself for a couple hours.

The days target (excuse the Rainham pun) birds were Grasshopper Warbler, Cuckoo and Hobby with anything else a bonus.

RSPB, Targets, Marsh
Shooting butt
As I walked the paths west from Serin Mound an early morning chorus of Warblers were in full voice with Reed, Sedge and Grasshopper all very vocal from this end of the marsh, Common Whitethroat and Blackcap chipped in from the sidelines, a distant Cuckoo and a Greenshank both called from the direction of the old silt lagoons and the unmistakable sound of a male Skylark was singing high in the sky above me.

Rainham, RSPB

Rainham, RSPB

Making my way along the sea wall and onto the RSPB reserve a pair of Northern Wheatear were feeding along the salt marsh tide-line, Swifts were back and had returned in numbers and a single male Stonechat briefly sat up on the perimeter fence. Aveley Bay was strangely quiet with just a single summer-plumaged Dunlin the only wader of note, whilst a dozen or more Common Terns were noisily feeding mid-river.

Rainham, RSPB

I briefly stopped at the Marshland Discovery Zone hide to check in on the breeding pair of Kingfishers, I didn't have to wait long before the male put in an appearance, perching on the reeds before disappearing into the nest hole. As the mornings temperature began to rise a pair of Hobbys circled Target pools, a Marsh Harrier joined them in the sky and finally I had my first views this year of not one but two Cuckoos as they raced passed me in the direction of the woodland and in to cover.

An enjoyable early morning jaunt, with most birds you would expect to see when visiting Rainham Marsh at this time of year with one notable exception, Yellow Wagtail - I didn't even hear one!