Saturday, 20 May 2017

Gropper Topper

I'm not sure why I stopped at the patch this morning as it's officially dead, but the briefest of circuits did result in a fly through Peregrine - thanks to an alert Jono for picking that one out (yet another year tick falls) so it wasn't a total waste of time. Next stop and my main focus for the morning was Rainham for another attempt at this 1st-summer Bonaparte's Gull which is commuting up and down the Thames, and after missing this bird last weekend I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it another go.

I gave it an an hour from Ferry Lane, scanning for small Gulls on the river, looking in the direction of Crossness on the southern side and Creekmouth to the north, but nothing. So I headed to the reserve from the western-end and checked Aveley Bay and the foreshore, still nothing just a few Black-headed Gulls milling around - on's not as if I haven't seen a couple of Bonaparte's Gulls in London on the same stretch of the river before.

Walking along the river path towards the visitors centre and the last of this Springs passage Wheatear's was still hanging around the rocky foreshore, and a couple of Cuckoo's called and chased each other over the marsh. I could also hear two reeling Grasshopper Warblers singing away, one of which was quite close to the path, and after a few minutes moved out into the open and gave excellent views in the early morning light. I then received news the Bonaparte's Gull had been seen again from the Stone Barges before flying up river - probably right passed Ferry Lane! It did cross my mind to go back and have another look for it, but this Gropper was giving such good views, I decided to give the elusive yank Gull a miss and instead lapped up the sight and sound of a Grasshopper Warbler in full voice.

Gropper, Singing, Rainham, RSPB
A Grasshopper Warbler in full fishing reel mode

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Owl Things Considered

Spring passage on the patch is virtually over with only handful of Swallows still moving through and the odd Yellow Wagtail calling overhead. With the year list now siting in the nervous 90's after adding our resident but often heard and not seen Little Owl thoughts are already turning to the autumn - as summers on the patch are virtually a bird free zone. There are a couple of omissions I could still add, with both Peregrine and Treecreeper still avoiding me and then there's always the chance of Common Tern going over, so although I may not give the patch as much time through June and July there's still a couple of reasons to return until we hit the tick-trail again in August.

After finally adding Tawny Owl to the patch list Thursday evening, with two noisy juveniles calling loudly in Reservoir Wood, this mornings Little Owl also happily obliged for once and sat out in the open, allowing a few photographs to be taken before disappearing higher up into the canopy of the copse - with Short-eared Owl still missing from the patch list (after several near misses) this is just another reason to skip Summer and head straight to Autumn.

Owls, Wanstead, London

Owls, Wanstead, London