Saturday, 15 September 2018

Stone Curlew - take two

So like buses Stone Curlew in SOG this year has put in another twitchable performance.

The bird that I found at Bowers marsh some weeks ago was the first in SOG for 20years, excluding flyovers heard at night, so was a bit of a surprise that we get another lingering bird, this time at Lower Raypits, Canewdon.

Almost the direct opposite of the Bowers bird this one required a long hike out from Lion Creek rather than the relatively short walk from the Bowers Marsh car park. From the hide the bird would show pretty close whereas the Bowers bird was always at the limits of camera range.

Still it was worth the walk as it did show well once I located it, took me half an hour.

Could it actually be the same bird as that at Bowers or a different bird; logic would dictate it is a second bird.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Bowers Marsh : August 2018 part 2

With the Stone Curlew at Bowers Marsh being the main attraction oother birds were inevatibly discovered and I was now bolstered by my find and wanted to get out and see the Great White Egret and Glossy Ibis.

I had some success in this endevour with the Great White Egret finally giving itself up to me on Great Pound pond on 11th August but I missed the ibis despite being on site.

The egret would come and go from Great Pound and resulted in my best views and photos of this species locally despite the heat haze that was quite severe at 11:15am.

Still it was a great bird.

During my visits several other species were seen with scattering of waders being present, Blackwits, Green and Common Sands, Ruffs etc but it was also good for raptors with Marsh Harrier,, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Hobby all being seen most visits.

The Hobby did a suprrb fly over on the 10th August in the evening, right above our heads, stunning bird:

Hopefully I will connect with the ibis at some point or perhaps something even better, Bowers Marsh is feeling like it should finally deliver on the rarity front.

Bowers Marsh : August 2018 : Stone Curlew

As a few early migrant Whinchats had been seen at Bowers Marsh I decided to give the site a look after work and hopefully see them.

I was initially going to go straight to the southern side of the lagoon to where the birds had been favouring but I decided on a qquick look from the main lagoon viewpoint at the double benches. I gave the wet areas a scan picking out a few Ruff, Black-tailed Godwits and Common Sandpipers and then I picked up something odd on the more distant island, beyond the closest island, and around 300-400 metres away.

It was partially obscured but it looked like a heat hazed Stone Curlew. The more I looked the more I was convinced but I couldn't see the whole bird but then it stuck its head out from behind the vegetation and yep it was a Stone Curlew. This was big news for the SOG area birders with the last and only twitchable one back on 1998 so twenty years ago.

I rapidly composed a message on the local grapevine WhatsApp group and was about to send when I had a pang of doubt and went back to my scope, could it have been a wacky female Mallard sticking its head out and I was fooling myself, I still hadn't seen the bird out in the open. Whilst I looked at the spot the bird was it walked out and in all its Stone Curlewness.

I then sent the WhatsApps message. After about 5mins I was surprised at the lack of local birder respsonse so I looked at the message and realised, for some reason it hadn't been successfully sent so I tried again, still not joy. I tried several more times and still I couldn't get the news out. I performed the 1 o 1 trick of turning phone off and back on again, but still no joy. I could also not get the internet to work or retrieve any emails so it seemed like there was a network issue, of all the times......

I prayed that the phone signal would still be working so I started ringing local birders and thankfully I reached several to get the news out and soon they were on their way.

As the hours ticked by many local birders connected and with some adding it to the local lists.

It was last seen shortly after 9pm when several of us on the south side saw it flew to the fields near the barn and that was what we thought would be that.

All happy local birders.

Two days later it reappeared on the nearest island to the double benches where it spent all day pretty much in the same 10 square feet of vegetation but it did allow more birders to see it. At dusk I was the only birder there watching it as it fed on the muddy edges of the island.

Remarkably it was still present on the 11th August, today, in pretty much the exact same spot, and was twitched by a numbers of birders who needed it for their Essex lists. This species has been remarkably difficult to see in Essex with mostly singles being reported per year but never any twitchable.

A great bird at a great site and one that kick off a spell of good 'local' birds with Great White Egret and then Glossy Ibis being found. It was possible to see all three in a day and making it feel pretty much Mediterranean.

The attached images were the best that I could get given the range to the bird, light conditions and heat haze.

Autumn arrives early

Early August saw an unpresedented arrival of Pied Flycatchers down the east and south coasts of England and the Southend area finally shared in the event. Following the first one in Gunners Park on 2nd August, 10 days earlier than the previous earliest ever local record, two were in Gunners Park by the Serin pond near the main car park. They were generally elusive and mobile but did show well on occasion for the patient observer.

The normal arrival time locally for Pied Flys is from around the 21st August onwards so at the time of this posting this is still 10 days away so I think we could be in for some more to come.

Gunners Park this day also had several Willow Wablers, also early in arriving, with the photograpahed bird along the western side of the park.

Autumn: bring it on

Garden Woody

1st July 2018 saw the first juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker in the garden for the year.

Since the loss of the Apple Tree, it died a few years back when the ground became water logged, I've had far fewer sightings in the garden. The Apple Tree continues to bring in a few woodpeckers every now and then as several of its larger branches and mid trunk and used as woodpecker and feeding posts around the garden; great for insects as well.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Red-crested Pochard localy is rather scarce and just about annual. Last year Bowers Marsh saw a female and this year the same site produced thisvery fine but always distant drake.

Taken from the southern path by standing on the 'gull watching' log and straining to see over the top of the reedbed. This side of this site really does need an elevated viewing mound to see the best spots which have birds. Shame the RSPB keep ignoring local birders.

Butterflies of South Essex

We have some good Butterflies locally and a very pleasant walk around Belfairs Woods on Saturday resulted in excellent views of White Admiral, Purple Hairstreak and a few remaining Heath Fritillaries. Still looking foreard to the day we start getting Purple Emperors and Silver-washed Fritillaries floating up and down the woodland rides.

Nearby Benfleet Downs is a hotspot for White-letter Hairstreaks and about six were seen on and around the usual Bramble patches whilst Marbled Whites and Esex Skippers were in the grassland.

A very pleasant day with the butties.

More Hawk Moths

Added two more Hawk Moths to the years tally in the garden. From just two traps run this summer I have caught Lime, Poplar, Elephant, Privet and Eyed. Hawk Moths with several of Elephant and Privet caught. Always stunner.

Slow Summer Birding

Only managed a limited amount of birding in recent weeks but have included visits to Bowers Marsh to see the drake Red-crested Pochard which is a local scarcity and Wallasea Island where Carn Bunting and Avocets were plentiful. Summer = slow birding

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Rosy Pastor, Pink Stink, Rosy Starling or Rose-coloured Starling

As per the title of the post there are many names for Rose-coloured Starling but do any really do justice to the bird that was seen in Rayleigh today?

In the morning it was seen in rather grey conditions whilst a return visit in the evening in much improved light resulted in some nice images. A full suite of these will eventually be posted on my website but in the meantime a few here included here.