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.
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.