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.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Getting a March on

March always brings me a premature hope of Spring; and by Spring I mean Spring migrants. While trying to overlook the boring winter migrants, already ticked and captured on camera, I focus on what  might be or could be seen as the earth spins inevitably toward the prospect of rarities and forgotten friends flying back from their winter homes.

It is a time for re-remembering warbler call notes and pretending to understand impact of weather systems and logical drop zones of early returners to which I am a poor student. So here is a bad school report for the month of March.

6th March – Rainham Marshes

After many attempts at getting a sighting let alone a picture of the long-staying Dartford Warblers on the reserve, my endeavour finally paid off. Thanks to a couple of birders who had the warbler in their sights, I was able to get some adequate images of the birds even though it kept itself at a distance that irritated the photographer in me. Beggars can't be choosers I suppose.

Even though now I have realised my camera settings have been askew for some time, I also had a bit of a champagne moment with the Short-eard Owls. As I left the MDZ, one said bird flew up and right across my line of vision. Without hesitation I just fired off 20 or so shots and one actually came out. I know it’s a bit grainy but who cares? Me. Moving on... Nice poses from Stonechats, Meadow Pipits and a Kestrel made for a reasonably good outing.

March 12th Lee Valley

The Bittern although still about won’t play ball and refuses to appear in any real way when I am there. To be honest, I feel let down. I volunteer at the Bittern Information Point not only to give punters amazing insights into this elusive bird but to take breathe taking images of the damn thing. Feel a bit short changed by the blighter this year. So a picture of a Great Crested Grebe and a Long-tailed Tit will have to suffice I’m afraid.

March 14th – Connaught Waters

I like Connaught Waters. It never over promises and can sometimes throw up a nice bird like a Smew or a Goosander during the winter months. It’s also an odds-on site for the over decorated Mandarin Duck. The fringes hold good numbers of Nuthatch and Treecreeper and if you’ve been a really good boy or girl, then Marsh Tit can sometimes be your reward. I had a nice wander around with Jo and Brenda zooming in on Nuthatches and creeping up on mandarins. There were a pair of Goosanders but they always kept a safe distance from our outstretched lenses and an over-friendly Pintail which made you wonder about it’s lineage.

March 20th

Slim picking at Lee Valley with only a quick walk around before taking up my duties in the BIP. Nice to see the Great Crested Grebes nesting on the Old Lea with a clutch of 4 eggs. Just hope those pesky Coots don’t predate the poor things this year.

March 25th  Lee Valley

Lee Valley once again. Chiffchaff are singing and a Blackcap heard. On 70 Acres, a pair of Shelduck seem to have taken up residence and I look to the skies for the first... no, any sign of our returning Common Terns. Not yet.