Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Showy sawbill

I popped into Connaught Water and was pleased to still find the pair of Goosander on the lake, these two birds have been around since the start of January - although I'm not expecting them to be here for much longer as we edge nearer to the end of winter. With March only a few a days away these two sawbills will soon be leaving their winter retreat of Epping Forest and should be heading north or possibly west to their summer breeding grounds along the rivers of Scotland or Wales.

Today the female gave exceptional views as she dived and fed close to the wooden boardwalk at the north end of the lake, seemingly oblivious to the constant stream of dog-walkers and pram-pushers circumnavigating the paths around Connaught Water, this well-groomed redhead happily posed for a few photos before returning to the safety of the centre of the lake.

Female, Epping Forest, Connaught Water

Sunday, 22 February 2015


Yes, yes...that is a photograph of a Ring-necked Parakeet. Personally I'm not a fan of these exotic non-native birds and I'm a little bit disappointed in myself for gracing this wonderful blog with such a gaudy, noisy and invasive species but desperate times, requires desperate measures!

The patch list is currently stuck on 66 and hasn't moved a jot since February 5th. I've tried searching the woods for a Woodcock, the waterways for a Water Rail, the Alder for a Siskin, the football pitches for a Med Gull and the skies for a Peregrine but zip, zilch, nothing!

The month of February is thankfully almost over and March can't come soon enough as thoughts turn to longer days and our returning summer migrants. This winters birding in Wanstead has been poor, very poor with one notable exception and this winters saving grace the Slavonian Grebe. OK, there was a Jack Snipe on the 6th December, but even that was just a single flushed bird with flight views only, so for me spring can't come soon enough, the winter of 2014/2015 has been a non event and I wish to move on, so apologies for the photograph, but currently this is as best as Wanstead can offer, so try to forgive me for my chintzy offering as next month and the return of spring I hope to make a mends with photographs of colourful male Wheatears and singing Chiffchaffs...I do bloody hope so for my own sanity if nobody else's!

Wanstead, London

Sunday, 15 February 2015

What are the odds on that? + UPDATE

The photo below of a few Gulls milling around Jubilee Pond on Wanstead Flats is little uninspiring, that is until you look closely at both Common Gulls on the fence post. On closer inspection the left hand Gull is sporting a red ring (A25J) and the right hand bird has a white ring (JC4P) - and that's what makes a rather dull photo a lot more interesting.


I still await final confirmation from but after reporting both of these sightings, initial reports suggest both birds were ringed away from our shores in the UK and across the North Sea into Northern Europe. White ring (JC4P) was ringed in the region around Southern Norway, near Lista Bird Observatory, approximately 841 kilometres from Wanstead, and the red ring (A25J) was ringed in Northern Germany near Hamburg, some 692 Kilometres away - both are impressive stats, and shows the type of distance's Gulls can typically cover, but what's more impressive is to have both birds in Wanstead on the same day, standing on the same fence post, having both travelled some considerable distance to be there at the same time - now that's impressive.

Colour-ringed, Gulls

Once I receive all the relevant information regarding both birds history and movements, I'll up date this blogpost with the results - finding both these colour-ringed Gulls made a quiet February trip to the patch a lot more interesting than it might have been otherwise.


As I promised, confirmation below of both Common Gulls recovery information:

  • Red ring A25J was ringed as an unfledged bird on the 23rd June 2014 in Moorfleet, Hamburg.

German Recovery Data

  • White ring JC4P was ringed on the 20th September 2012 in Time, Rogaland, Norway which is just south of Stavanger and was aged as a 1st calendar year bird.

Norwegian Recovery Data

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Southend Pier, Mediterranean Gulls - cooking up a treat

My eldest son who is now approaching the grand old age of 9 is oddly a big fan of Jamie & Jimmy's (that's Jamie Oliver & Jimmy Doherty) Friday Night Feast - I think he just likes staying up a bit later on a Friday evening. This Channel 4 cookery programme which knocks up some top grub with the odd celebrity to hand, is filmed and located at the end of Southend Pier - and this is how our ended up at the end of the worlds longest pier photographing Mediterranean Gulls.

I was fully aware of the Med Gulls on Southend Pier having spent more than a few cold winter hours sea-watching from the Pier in my youth, with usually not a lot to show for it other than the odd Guillemot or Kittiwake along with frozen fingers and toes, but it's been a number of years since I'd made the trip. With my son keen to see where his favourite Friday night programme is filmed, It felt like the perfect Sunday afternoon family outing, made even better by a decent weather forecast - dry, winter sunshine and a still wind, along the promise of chips and a Rossi's Ice cream for everyone afterwards.

I saw up to fifteen birds at the end of the pier all of various ages, one of which was a colour-ringed adult bird (E494) which I believe is seen regularly in the area and was ringed as a chick near Antwerp, Belgium in 2010. Apart form the Med Gulls another bonus was finding a Slavonian Grebe feeding close to the pier as we walked the long mile to the end, not a common sight along this stretch of the Thames, and if I hadn't seen the Wanstead bird so well only weeks before I might have got a little more excited about this find.

1st Winter, Southend Pier, Med Gull
Adult, Southend Pier, Med Gull
Adult - moulting into Summer Plumage
Adult, Southend Pier, Med Gull
Adult Winter
Adult Winter, Southend Pier, Med Gull
Adult Winter
Of all the flight photographs I took (and there was many) this was by far the best of the lot, a striking 1st-winter Mediterranean Gull showing its full range of fresh chocolate brown coloured feathers, these birds are the perfect age and subjects for anyone interested in the topography of a Gull.

1st-winter, Southend Pier, Med Gull, Flight

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Colour-ringed Sanderling?

Does anybody know anything about colour-ringed Sanderling?

I found this colour-ringed Sanderling amongst a flock of c100 birds roosting along the promenade at high tide in Southend today. It looks like a combination of colours (2 white or silver rings on the right leg and 3 rings green, blue, green on the left leg).

I had a quick look on the European Colour-Ring Birding Website but I couldn't make head nor tail of it! So If you can work it out or have any further information, I'd love to know the history/movements of this bird.

Colour-ringed Sanderling

Friday, 6 February 2015

A little patch reward

After last weekends forgettable Sunday morning trip to the Flats in which I failed to see one single bird of note - to be honest I struggled to see any form of bird life, the Flats resembled the haunting landscape of Chernobyl - but with dogs! So on a quick Thursday afternoon visit It was good to add another number to the year list (66sp) in the shape of a Common Buzzard high over the Police Scrape, this was being hotly pursued by the obligatory corvid. 

Last year it took me until the 27th December to add Common Buzzard to the annual patch total, so to get one this early in the proceedings made my little trip somewhat worthwhile.

Wanstead, London