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.

Friday, 16 October 2015

September Review

September was a month spent almost entirely wandering about in the brooms and woods on Wanstead Flats (There are other men doing this who don’t do it for the birds so one has to be careful). It was a special time as the place appeared to become a magnet for our more regular migrants and they didn’t disappoint. Otherwise it was the Lee Valley that took up my time. Need to go further-afield come October!

September 29th 2015 – Chingford Plain/Connaught Water
Chingford Plain is an old haunt of mine with some cracking birds seen in days gone past; Ring Ouzel, Richard’s Pipit, Short-eared Owl to name the few. Today it was nice if not totally unexpected to happen upon a pair of Whinchat – they’re getting everywhere this autumn. Connaught Water was just a bit of fun with trying out a few flight shot tips.

Ring-necked Parakeet


September 26th 2015 – Lee Valley Park
Nice sunny day and a casual walk around the park before volunteer duty at the Bittern Watchpoint.

Carrion Crow



Little Egret and Grey Heron

Greta Crested Grebe

Grey Heron

Long-tailed Tit

Reed Warbler

September 23rd 2015 – Vange Marshes
A life tick for me this day as the rather distant Wilson’s Phalarope didn’t get wind of my imminent arrival and happily kept its distance while my camera desperately tried to focus on a blob.

September 20th 2015 – Lee Valley Park
No birds of any note but my first shot of a dragonfly in flight. Also happened upon a Muntjac which under normal circumstances would have fled into the foliage but this one seemed more intent on eating it’s cover.

Common Darter


Southern Hawker

September 12th 2015 – Lee Valley Park
Another grey day but nice to find a pair of Whinchat on a walk towards the farm.

September 7th 2015 – Sewardstone Marsh
Nasty weather, nothing about but a quick stop off at Sewardstone Marsh before Lee Valley duties down the road. Just a bad shot of a Lesser Whitethroat of any note. Moving on...

September 2nd 2015 – Wanstead Flats
Spent most of the time staring at a bush waiting for the Wryneck to show off. Didn’t happen. Saw it fly from one bush to another on a few occasions but no shots unless you like shots of bushes.

Had to make do with Spotted Flycatchers instead.

September 1st 2015 – Wanstead Flats

I have to admit that I’m lost on the flats. Luckily there are guys there who religiously patrol the site recording bird sightings and of this band, a few are usually about to help direct lost souls like me towards the best spots for the birds that are about. There were a few of them quartering the 'Enclosure' area and they roll-called the latest sightings for me. There were loads of Spotted Flycatchers flitting about and a few Chiffchaffs. I caught the tail end of a female Pied Flycatcher as I arrived but failed to pick it up again. A smart male Common Redstart played ball and that was amazing. Amazing because for the next couple of hours, I didn’t see it again.

Common Redstart

Green Woodpecker

Common Kestrel

Spotted Flycatcher


Monday, 5 October 2015

August Review

29th August 2015, Wanstead Flats

A lunchtime sortie to the flats looking for Redstart and Spot Flycatchers. I had no luck there but managed a nice Tree Pipit and a distant pair of Whinchats. I was happy.

28th August 2015, Lee Valley Waterworks NR

Much indebted to Brenda for giving me the opportunity to follow her around as she conducted a reptile survey for the park. It’s not often I let the lady do all the lifting but Brenda knows how to lift a corrugated sheet you know! I was the lucky one who had the job of photographing what we found. God these snakes move fast for an animal with no legs. Anyway after a few missed opportunities I finally got to grips with 'just shoot as the lid comes off but sometimes you just don’t have time. Well, that’s my excuse.

Grass Snake

Grass Snake

Grass Snake

Devil’s Coach Horse

Common Darter

Common Blue

26th August 2015, North Norfolk

So a man gets a day at his leisure to bird in the hallowed corners of Norfolk and it decides to piss down. Undeterred though he (me) set forth to Cley-next-the-sea and was rewarded with some amazing views and birds, not least a Peregrine with a prey that I can only presume to be a Dunlin as there were so many of the darlings probing about on the reserve. After dodging another deluge by having a rather good lunch at the Red Lion in Stiffkey, I ended up at Titchwell where Little Stints were the order of the day although not for my stomach or indeed that of the Peregrine, thankfully.

Peregrine with Dunlin




Common Swift



Sandwich Tern

Grey Heron

Little Stint


22nd August 2015, Lee Valley Park

A random walk around the park in particular direction although I do like to mix it up a bit. With the summer winding down, it can be a bit bereft of any good birds but the light was nice to me and the variety of creatures is plain to see.

Common Whitethroat

Grey Heron

Early morning along the farm trail


Speckled Bush Cricket


21st August 2015, Wanstead Flats

Quick trip to rain ham to try and improve my tally in the Bird race. Added Ruff  and Wheatear to the list. Whoopie-Do!

Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull 
Meadow Grasshopper
Speckled Wood
Northern Wheatear

20th August 2015, Wanstead Flats

The good thing about working from home is that lunch hours can be two hours long and that means I can get to the migration hotspot of London to see the early arrival of such beauties as these Whinchats.

Common Kestrel

17th August 2015, Roding Valley NR

Good place this It‘s supposed to be the largest water meadow in Essex and there is field upon field of wild flower meadows as you wander though. On this trip I was lucky to find Latticed Heaths as the blades of the local council churned up the vista in front of me. I kept ahead of the monster machines as there are countless pockets of fields to find various butterfly and moth species but not for long!

16th August 2015, The Chilterns.

Highlight of the month. A trip to Aston Rowant in the Chilterns was a trip with good friend Brenda to see Red Kites and Chalkhill Blue butterflies. It would have been useful if we had had one leg shorter than the other as the Chalkhill Blues love the sunny slopes of the escarpment that rises up from the M40 motorway. We also saw Silver-spotted Skippers, Brown Argus, Brimstone and Common Blues.

The Red Kites were a bit thin on the ground and equally thin in the air. We saw a few but not many. Perhaps we need to come earlier in the year. They were always just too far away for a proper shot. Nice pub lunch was had though in amongst the bee-encrusted Lavender.

Brown Argus

Chalkhill Blue

Chalkhill Blue

Chalkhill Blue

Common Blues

Juvenile Green Woodpecker

Red Kite

Silver-spotted Skipper

Silver-spotted Skipper
Silver-spotted Skipper

11th August 2015, Rainham Marshes RSPB, Essex

A good couple of hours here if you like sandpipers. Green, Common and two Wood sandpipers were present, all of which I needed for my Rainham Birdrace list. Other than that, it was pretty quiet unless you count the cacophony of Marsh Frogs present all over the reserve.

Green Sandpiper

Marsh Frog

Sedge Warbler

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

9th August 2015, Langdon Hills, Essex

I picked an area close to One Tree Hill for some butterfly photography. There are some good patches of wild flower meadow were Marbled White and Painted Lady can be found. This also proved good for Brown Argus, a butterfly I had only seen for the first time two days previous.

Brown Argus


Marbled White

Painted Lady