Sunday 4 February 2024

Red-breasted Goose - Wallasea Island February 2024

Long walk around Wallasea Island today was rewarded when I came across this Red-breasted Goose in the Brent Goose flock that was out on the Salt Pan near Grass Farm Lagoon. It was pretty distant so I had to resort to 'Phone Scoping' the following video. 

The quality is not great given I had to 'phone scope' the bird at distance, in poor light, with strong wind and no phone/scope adapter..maybe i really ought to invest in one. 

Anyway you can see what it is. 

It appears to be an adult and is apparently different to the bird that is across the river at Holliwell Point on south end of the Dengie as that bird is showing pale patching on the breast.


Friday 26 January 2024

Winter Divers

Whilst many birders have been getting to grips with Waxwings this winter I have been thoroughly enjoying the bonanza of the Divers that have graced the Thames and nearby Wallasea Island. 

A big feature with the diver occurances this winter has been the multiple Black-throated Divers that have shown extremely well. Two birds on the Wallasea lagoons, with the Stillings Basin bird especially showy, a point blank bird off Canvey Seafront that was also seen the next day off Southend Pier just metres away...all entertaining stuff. 

Great Northern Divers in the Thames are having one of their best winters in years with at least six present between Gunners Park and Canvey Seafront though there could be more than this involved given the spread of sightings. Southend Pier has had several very confiding birds and they have made it feel like the good old days when GNDs were right under the boarwalk. 

With point blank views of both Black-throated and Great Northern Divers it would have been safe to say it couldn't have gotten much better however it was with total shock that in the afternoon of 25th Janauary I would be looking at a point blank range juvenile White-billed Diver off Southend Pier. Found by Vince Kinsler it was one of those drop everything and go moments and I left work early (4hours early) and made a mad dash to the Pier. At the time it seemed to take an eternity, especially running up the pier as the pier head never really seemed to get any closer but apparently it only took forty minutes from Vince putting the news out to me arriving from Rochford !

Knee and hip hurting next day from the run up the pier, I missed the outbound train by couple minutes and couldn't wait another half hour for the next one, but it was well worth it. 

Absolutely superb bird. 

Despite what the Echo newpaper article there wasn't more to come the next day and it seems that the White-billed Diver is destined to be a half day bird.

The following are my favoutire of the diver photos

   Black-throated Diver: Canvey Seafront - January

   Black-throated Diver: Southend Pier (same bird as the above) - January

    Black-throated Divers: Wallasea Island - January

    Red-throated Diver: Southend Pier - January

    Great Northern Divers: Southend Pier - January

    White-billed Diver: Southend Pier - January


White-billed Diver (left) and Great Northern Diver (right): Southend Pier - January 2024

Tuesday 9 January 2024

Not posted anything on here for sometime, which I will try to rectify on a regular basis. For now I will highlight the bird of the year for me in 2023 and a stunner that has kick started 2024.

On Fair Isle during the autumn news of several very nice mega's on Shetland mainland were proving tempting to twitch off for. The Blackburnian Warbler unfortunately didn't do the right thing and stay to the next day when I could have gone but a few days later a Veery was found up near Lunna Kirk. I waited for a few days and with the bird still present I took the plunge and twitched off the isle for a couple of hours. Luckily I had my car at the airstrip so I was away immediately after arriving. I had about 45minutes with the bird, often I was the only person present. 

The views of this bird bettered anything I have had in North America and I've seen some excellent ones over there. 

I even had time to go and fit in a Siberian Stonechat just up the road before dashing back to the airstrip for the flight back to Fair Isle. 

From a Fair Isle perspective it was a little quiet but that is still relative with Turkestan Shrike, two Lanceolated Warblers, an American Golden Ploverm a probably Stejnegers Stonechat and the best views ever of a Radde's Warbler (around my feet) being the pick of the bunch. 

Shetland then rounded out the autumn in style when a Yellow Warbler was found in Hoswick the day I was coming off Fair Isle and whilst it showed better for the crowds a few days later I was please to have managed at least a couple of acceptable photo's of it. 

2024 was ushered in with a bang when a Northern Waterthrush was found in mid Essex, 8th record for Britain. I left it nearly a week before going as often brief views left many visitors not seeing it. The first Saturday sounded especially unpleasant with around 450 on site not seeing it all day. I went early afternoon on the Sunday when only 30 or so were present and the bird was showing very well. 

Not a bad way to start the year.

Link to the video of the bird here on my Facebook page:

Monday 20 March 2023

Alpine Swift - Hadleigh Castle

The first widely available Alpine Swift was found by Marc Outen at Hadleigh Castle just as he was about to start a 10k run; no bins, just phone video to help get the news out. 

Thankfully it went on to stay for most of the day generally around the Salvation Army Tea Rooms car park and above the wood just to the North West. 

The light was bad with heavy cloud and the bird did mostly stay quite high but it was seen low on a couple occasions and was seen being chased by a Black-headed Gull at one point. 

Despite the poor light I managed to get some usable images which are represented here. 

Quailty find, quality bird

Tuesday 10 January 2023

West Africa Birding

I have added two new pages covering a few of the highlights of a trip to The Gambia and Senegal. 

Part 1 covers selected species and Part 2 is all about Scissor-tailed Kites and Egyptian Plovers. Click on the image to go straight to the page.

    Part 1

Part 2

Sunday 6 February 2022

London Caspian Gulling

Facebook will probably do a great job of reducing the quality of these images but hopefully they will still be good enough to view.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at Thamesmead along the river Thames looking for Caspian Gulls, a species that has dramatically reduced in numbers locally following landfill closures.

I needed a Caspian Gull fix and today was one of the best in a few years with eight different birds seen, an adult and seven 1st-winters, though potentially one of these could well be a hybrid.

Plenty of cheap loaves were deployed on the Thames gulls today.


Bird 1

Bird 2 

Bird 3

Bird 4

Bird 5

Bird 6

Bird 7

Bird 8

Sunday 9 January 2022


Nuthatch is one of my absolute favourite birds, something about them always delights. Today I spent a few hours trying to photograph a pair that were coming to a local woodland feeding station but being on the edge of the wood light was lacking and high ISOs were required to even get anywhere near 1/200th sec shutter speed. Still a few have come out quite well. 

Locally Nuthatch went through a phase of rapid expansion in the local woods but now they are only found in Hockley Woods and Belfairs / Pound Woods. Those that 'may' breed in Belfairs are usually found in Pound Wood in the winter where they can put on a show. 

Lets hope this charasmatic bird keeps its foothold in the local woods.