So my point is, I would have to use the pockets of spare time I have, to write the blogs that record the events of that spare time and thus, I wouldn’t have any spare time to write about anything other than writing non-existent blogs! See? So I save them up for moments like this.
The month kicked off in the Lee Valley on a dark mid-morning (a feature of most of my ventures out) and a 2 hour walk around the south part of Fishers Green covering Hooks Marsh and Hall Marsh. I had a low-flying Red Kite over Hooks but failed to focus the telephoto on it. My lens, which I love, has a real problem in low light. This is mainly because it’s a slow lens f5.6 and basically refuses to lock onto anything distant and moving when the sun don’t shine. It did wake up for the pile of Siskins that busied themselves in the alders a bit later on and the Little Egrets I came across on the path of all places! I managed to locate the sneaky Smew on Hooks Marsh which is an area of water dotted with small tree covered islands before it saw me and sped off behind one of the island never to be found again. I finished with the obligatory visit to the BIP to hope for Bittern but only managed a Cetti’s Warbler before heading home.
My next moment of escape came again at Lee Valley up at Holyfield Farm. The farm has a bit of a hotspot for birds near a hay trough which has a pool of deep mud surrounding it. The Chiffchaffs love the hay in the trough and the Grey Wagtails can always be relied upon to loop in with their tails wagging to find grubs and flies around the mud pool.
We popped into Lynford Arboretum but missed the key species – Hawfinch and any photography was poor. We did see Nuthatch, Marsh Tit and Coal Tit through the gloom but decided to move on the Abbey Farm at Flitcham for the Pallid Harrier. It wasn’t showing but we enjoyed good views of a single Hen Harrier and a large flock of Brambling along the roadside bushes.
It was then off to Old Hunstanton to see the dead Sperm Whale but it had been turned into a giant whale sandcastle so we gave it a miss. We took a wrong turn and ended up at the golf club only to be met by a pair of Grey Partridge on the golf course so worth the detour.
Finally we tackled the windswept beach at Titchwell and saw many waders as they battled with the weather. Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Ringed Plover. On the reserve we got a flock of Twite, Brent Geese and Avocet. The occasional Marsh Harrier hunted over the marsh and Rock Pipits frequented the small pools. Another Brambling appeared on the feeder at the visitor centre just for good measure.
On the 27th Feb it was back to Rainham. It feels a bit like having a mistress, me flitting between the Valley and here...only not as much fun...I guess.
It was another really grey day but brightened by the news of an Iceland Gull on the Kent foreshore. Although very distant, view through a scope the bird was clear to see. Near the Iceland was a Caspian Gull. For this I had to have an expert show me – I’m useless when it comes to gulls so whoever he was, thanks. In Aveley Bay, a pair of Avocet probed the London mud and around 20 Shelduck with Redshank running round them stood watching for danger. An Oystercatcher flew down river piping loudly and a poor old Grey Heron got mobbed by some kind of gull.
On the reserve, Golden Plovers with Lapwing and a few Dunlin scattered skywards as an invisible predator hunted overhead. No sign of any Short-eared Owls and another another no show from the Dartford Warbler.
|Caspian Gull, left-hand side and Iceland Gull over on the right|
|Dunnock (easiest bird in the world to photograph)|
|Mostly Golden Plover|