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.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

On manoeuvres along the Suffolk/Norfolk border

This little sortie into Suffolk...or is it Norfolk...or is it both? I get dizzy travelling that road from the M11 to Brandon, just  a stone-curlew’s throw from Thetford Forest. The signs say welcome to Suffolk, then Cambridgeshire then Suffolk again or Norfolk or somewhere then the screeching of tyres and your passengers fly across the car interior as you nearly miss the entrance to Weeting Heath.


Myself and my accomplice on this particular mission, Brenda, are greeted by a gentleman who reminds me of the bull elephant in the Jungle Book. The khaki shorts, handlebar moustache and general air of a time not out of place in the time of the Raj. I’m being unfair as the 'major' is a calm and caring man who has always been stationed at Weeting since I can ever remember. He talks about a time when he lived in central Africa and I can see it. I could listen to his banter all day but we had come to see the Stone-curlews and hopefully the regular Spotted Flycatcher that frequents the thin band of pines that shield the heath from the racetrack of a road.

'Want to see the Spotted Fly?" he bellows as we pay our entrance. "Yes please sir" we respond in regulation military fashion. "Follow me". We march tower the West Hide.

Sure enough and like a soldier resounding to a command, the flycatcher showed itself and showed itself long enough for me to shoot it.

We went into the West hide from where we could easily see (through the heat haze and deceiving rabbits) a family of Stone-curlews, the adult birds with two chicks. There were at least two other adult birds all of which were just far enough away to make a photograph quite pathetic. But we took some all the same.

A pencil sketch might have been better.
From the woodland hide, things were a little closer. Marsh Tit and Yellowhammer were good to see and I have never seen a Yellowhammer on a nut feeder before and in my amazement, I forgot to take a photograph of it. I did get the Marsh Tit though.

We retreated back to the car and the 'major' showed up an Orchid which I fail to remember but it seemed important but I couldn’t get that excited as the blooming thing hadn’t, well, bloomed yet.

We set off to Lakenheath Fen which is only another stone’s throw from Weeting Heath. We had a Cuckoo at the start of our long trek in the blazing sun as it flew past and alighted in a nearby tree but too distant to capture. In the reeds, sedge and reed warblers sang with harmonies (if you can call them that) coming from invisible Whitethroats. To be honest, birds were lacking a little so our focus turned to Damsels and Dragons not that my camera likes to focus that much.

4 Spotted Chaser

Black-tailed Skimmer
Birds were a bit thin on the ground. the occasional Sedge Warbler or Reed Bunting. A couple of Marsh Harriers put in an appearance albeit distantly. It was really all about butterflies and other bugs that took the focus (not in my camera’s sense anyway)

Green-veined White

Large Skipper and Ringlet


Small Skipper


More tortoiseshell!!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Rainham Rules.

It’s amazing really the quality and quantity of wildlife you can see at Rainham Marshes. An oasis within an industrial desert, Rainham Marshes attracts as good a species as the best reserves in the country. From the endangered Water Vole tucked deep in the reed margins to the irrepressible chattering of a Reed Warbler, wherever you looked there was something to see or hear. A cuckoo called and then flew over the woodland. Common Blue butterflies danced swiftly through the wild rose bushes and damselflies that appear to have more than one reverse gear tease and tangle with each other as they hover over the nettle beds.

Most of the wildfowl are now lazy and seem disinterested in the squabbles of the Common Terns on the scrapes. Young coots bob about on the water and the rather weird Marsh Frogs bellow out across the marsh. For me there is no better place to be when the sun shines and the winds abate.

Reed Warbler

Reed Warbler

Female Azure Damselfly

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Four-spotted Chaser

Water Vole
Marsh Frog

Common Redshank