Tuesday 27 October 2015

Going Steady

This morning started off with a pleasant enough stroll around the trails in the hope of finding something to go with my flyover Tree Sparrow yesterday.  It was warm enough to be wearing my sandals and it was still and dry.  Cetti’s were as explosive as ever and Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs were particularly vociferous in the Cordite where a few Redwings and Blackbirds darted for cover at my approach.  Common Darters and Migrant Hawkers were still on the wing and one Wasp Spider is hanging on in there!

Common Darter
Common Darter
Female Syrphus sp hoverfly on Great Mullein

I was musing about two species as I ambled on. The Reedmace crop is superb this year and it is about time that we got another flurry of Penduline Tits for a winter or two to turn these bullet cigar heads into so much candy floss and the other was Dartford Warbler which we have not had on site for about five years now following a the two cold snap winters that so damaged the inland strongholds. I was historically ticking off both species as ‘Seen Pendies there... seen a Dartford then’ when I heard a scold from the brambles before the Ken Barrett hide but I only registered it the once and thought...’umm... wishful thinking’ and moved on. I even had a chat with a chap about feeling like a Dartford day especially as Paul and Dave had found two at East Tilbury last week.

The Marsh Harriers were having a good fly round and the Buzzard was on his box but it was pleasant rather than outstanding and I headed back to base. I was greeted by a carrier bag in which was a fairly recently deceased Kingfisher. The victim was found beneath our window and must have got things terminally wrong at some stage early in the morning. The all black bill told us that it is a male and I think that the general plumage tone and tiny points on two tail feathers suggest that it is one of this year’s young. Whether or not it is one of our own birds is unanswerable. It was a real pleasure to be able to see such a beautiful bird close up and to lose yourself in the electric blue, teal green and autumn orange with those cute little feet with grippy pads and the fused two front toes and an incredibly sharp and pointy, fish stabbing bill. 

I put him somewhere safe and settled down to cover the shop for a while which all went well until people started coming in telling me about the lovely Dartford Warbler around by the Ken Barrett Hide!  See I was not going mad... trust your instincts and I should have not been so hasty to move on. 

A quick change of plans (sorry Alex) and I was off out again in the sunshine for a very brisk scoot around to the spot where Andy was already waiting with a few others including the Branch family from Carnforth who we saw back home in the northwest in July. There was no sign but I now had other quarry with the solitary Pink-footed Goose miraculously reappearing on the Target Pools so I did not stop and left them looking while I zoomed further round and quickly picked up the goose as it grazed with the Greylags thanks to pinching Caroline’s scope (no not the one in the cafe – the ex RSPB Rye Meads one!).  This is still an excellent bird here and hopefully it may linger with its larger cousins. 

Pink-footed Goose - Andy Tweed

A quick gander and then back to the Warbler, where, after a short wait and better angle, Andy and I were able to relocate it, as it was followed around by the ubiquitous pair of Stonechats. A nice first winter type bird which is quite interesting as it was reported to me earlier as an adult male so who knows... there could even be two.  Five House Martins hawked above the trees and the Barn Owl was grumpily perched in the front of its box.

I left Andy and Smiffy in charge of showing it to any new arrivals and came back to centre to find Alex and Caroline (cafe one this time) donning cycle helmets to go out looking for the missing keys lost by the family that hired the bikes earlier so I hopped back onto reception for a while - well long enough to get a call from Smiffy to say that they had now found a female Goldeneye in Aveley Bay so I was off again for a short sojourn along the wall in the name of helping to look for the keys and nabbing my third new bird for the year on the patch in the bargain.  It was a lovely still calm evening with flat water and a pink sky and a Dark-bellied Brent Goose bobbing around offshore rounded things off just nicely.

Goldeneye - another quality bird for the reserve - Andy Tweed

Time to stop I think....

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