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.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Am I going to see the Little Bittern? No, I’m going to photograph Tufted Ducks, okay?

Okay, I’ve just proved to myself that I’m not a bona fide twitcher. If I was, I’d have been bashing elbows with all the other birders of Herts, Essex and London over at Stockers Lake, Herts, for the Little Bittern. Instead, I went to Rye Meads also in Herts for Kingfishers and Kestrels. Okay, the Kingfishers didn’t show so just the Kestrels then and a couple of Green Sandpipers if you will.

Rye Meads is nice (nice cool not nice twee). It’s been a few years since I’ve walked the boards there but I like what they’ve done with the place. I really wanted to shoot Kingfishers and Rye Meads is the place to do it. My problem was timing. The Kingfisher pair are on a clutch of eggs so activity is low to say the least. I gave it a couple of hours but no change of place between the male and female happened in that time so I gave up. All was not lost though as five Kestrel young, almost at the stage of flight took turns to either defecate out of their nest box or have a gander at what the outside world looks like.

There are 5 young kestrels in this box!
I left the 'Kingfisher Hide' (apt term really) and went to check on all the other birdlife on the reserve. I decided to go to the Draper Hide which had a couple of Green Sandpipers on the scrape first.

The paths to the hide had singing Cetti’s Warblers, about 3 or 4 and numerous Blackcaps and Reed Warblers again in song. From the hide there was plenty to see. A Common Redshank probed the shallow waters at the back while a pair of Oystercatchers were in the mood for love and who knows, may breed here. Common Terns made themselves know with their ratchet cries and squabbling.

the Green Sandpipers were annoyingly asleep to begin with with their heads firmly tucked under wing. But as the sun emerged from greyish clouds, so did the Sandpipers. This was as near to a Green Sandpiper as I have got. Normally they skirt the marsh fringes on the opposite side of a scrape to me so getting a few images wasn’t too difficult.

Green Sandpiper

There were two of them. How interesting.

Green Sandpiper
Now with the Oystercatchers getting all romantic, not far away in another stretch of water, things were getting a little hot for one poor female Tufted Duck. At least three drakes were fighting for her attention (Buy flowers and chocolates guys, splashing algae all over her isn’t a good way of softening up the girl of your dreams). Not sure who won, maybe the prize-fighting Coot that also joined the melee got the girl like a strutting little James Dean that he was.
Female Tufted Duck looking in shock after fighting off a couple of frisky drakes
So maybe if the Little Bittern is still around next week, I’ll fight my way through the crowds of twitchers to get the bird.