Welcome to my birdwatching blog. This blog will contain stories about my bird watching trips, interesting bird news and other tales that may or may not be bird related. I want to make it useful to the avid birder as well as those who may only have a passing interest in bird watching. I enjoy photographing bird life, common and rare through a spotting scope, not that they always sit still long enough for me. Being on the outskirts of North East London, my reports will not only cover my local patch of Redbridge/Waltham Forest, but also dip into deepest Essex, Suffolk, Kent and Norfolk.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Where Eagles, Gulls, Waders and other amazing birds dare

Following on from my last blog, I started thinking about all the less attractive places us birders like to frequent for the quality of the birds. If you have read my last blog or even just looked at the pictures, you’ll know that I featured an Iceland Gull at the Rainham landfill site. This is clearly not the sort of place you’d want to take a picnic or a place you’d want to impress your other half with by spending the day there with them. But there’s no denying the quality of the birds, if you’re into gulls at least.

So this got me thinking about all the other 'unusual' places I have visited in the pursuit of birds and here are a few that I’ve managed to think of.

Dungeness Nuclear Power Station.
This isn’t that unusual as it is one of the country’s premier birding hotspots. There is a bird observatory and an RSPB reserve just a stone’s throw (and there are plenty of stones to throw) away. But around the station itself, it is often possible to see Black Redstart, Firecrest, Whinchat and Wheatear.

Dungeness Power Station
Wheatear, Dungeness
The 'Patch' is an area in the sea where the waste hot water from the plant is pumped out into the sea from outfall pipes which enriches the seabed and attracts hoards of gulls, terns and skuas.
Common and Black Tern at the Patch

Birchanger Green Motorway Services Car park (off the M11)

This was a one-off but it’s not uncommon for a certain winter visitor to turn up at similar places. I am of course talking about the Waxwing. they love supermarkets especially because the planners always plant Cotoneaster and Pyracantha shrubs which they love.


M40, Junctions 5 -8 
I love the M40. I would even go out of my way to use it even if the M1 was easier because of the magnificent sight of reintroduced Red Kites. I’m surprised I haven’t crashed yet as I can get sidetracked by these majestic raptors as they glide overhead, usually around junction 7-8 in my experience.
Red Kite, more fun than watching the road.
But it’s not just Kites you can see. The ubiquitous Kestrel, hovering at the road edge and often a few Common Buzzards can be seen on trees or soaring over the Chiltern Hills.

Small mention should also go to the M3 for the Black Kite I saw near the Fleet Services.

Wormwood Scrubs
If you fancy doing a bit of bird then The Scrubs is for you mate. A large area of the Scrubs is made up playing fields and open land. There is a line of tress, Birch and Sycamore and an area known as Chats Paddock which is where much of the bird interest lies. Skylark and Meadow Pipit both have a strong presence and during spring and autumn, chats, redstarts, warblers and thrushes all put in appearances.
Wormwood Scrub
I guess the point is, great birdwatching can be undertaken pretty much anywhere. From a train, walking to the shops and even from an airport lounge I seem to recall.

Watch out for the 'How many bird species I have seen walking to the tube station?', coming soon....

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