Sunday 25 October 2020

Green Urban Birding - The Higham Loop - 22nd October 2020

Thursday saw me amble out for another local circuit with a view to getting to some farmland.  My route took me up to the end of my road (where the Rowans are just perfect for Waxwings) where I found a still flowering patch of Ivy in and ally and could smell it before I got there.  It was heaving with Common Wasps, flies and a couple of Honey Bees but no late Ivy Bees.  Most of the flies were Calliphora with a few Lucilia and it was good to see some Hovers too with Eristalis tenax and pertinax, a female Eupeodes luniger and Episyrphus balteatus.

Ornamental Cherry

Common Wasp

Calliphora sp

Eristalis pertinax

Eupeodes luniger

Episyrphus balteatus.

Lichen on the back of roadsign

Will see if Enid or Bob can help with the id...


I said hello to the rooftop Pigeons as I walked down Crutches Lane and they all looked up to show me a female Sparrowhawk circling above. The Gean and Maples glowed as I walked down towards Great Crabbles Wood but I decided to stay on the lane and head into Higham the fields beyond passing a fiery orchard that I think were Pear trees tucked at the back of a field.

Napping Pigeons - but no for long


Shepherd's Purse

Pear Orchard

Crutches (Kroo Chez) Lane

I wandered past Gads Hill School and then into Higham where a Starling was chortling away on a chimney pot to no one in particular with his pulsating glossy beard and I could hear Goldcrests in the gardens. Some of the front gardens here are so long that you can’t see the house at the top.



I turned onto a new footpath to get out into the fields and found a few more patches of Ivy with the same insect selection before emerging into the expansive view out over Cliffe Pools, Northward Hill and the Essex coast from DP World to the Southend Seafront. 


The fields that held rape and wheat are now bare but I was pleased to discover a good numbers of Skylarks cavorting across the bare ground but favouring the rape fields where there was already some regrowth to provide cover.  Amongst them were a few Meadow Pipits and Linnets and at least 22 Corn Buntings which hopefully stem from the breeding birds I found here in the springtime. Both Larks and Buntings were even jollied into song by the weak sunshine but relatively warm air.

Corn Bunting - easy to lose them out here!


I looped around an had a listen at the deep chalk pit out in the middle as the Sycamores were crying out for a Yellow-browed Warbler and the side wall thickets for something rarer but all I left with were a few Chaffinches and a Dunnock.  Two Small Whites flew by and I looked at all the fence posts for my first home-walk Stonechat but had no joy while Chicory, Yarrow and Bristly Oxtongue were still in bloom in a patch of game bird Brassica cover.

At Hermitage Lane I turned left and went past the one and only duckpond that I have encountered on these strolls and where it had overflowed onto the road the House Sparrows were avidly flapping in a puddle in between disturbance from passing cars.  Pied Wagtails were in the paddocks but no winter thrushes were seen. 

A beautifully clipped Yew hedge adorned with translucent glowing fruits

Flapping in a puddle -

A Poplar loving Lichen

Another new path took me down to Dillywood where I overlooked the salad fields that I had watched grow on my first walks.  They are already ready for another haircut and the arrow straight lines created some strong patterns across the landscape. 


From here I was back on the road until diverting into Broomhill Park. The kids seem to already be off around here and it was full of balls, boards and bikes but the Acer leaves were worth the diversion. 


Buck's-Horn Plantain (Plantago Coronopus) I have found this on most local pavement edges

As I dropped down the other side I found my best clump of Ivy of the day but the poor light precluded any good shots but I did see my fist and probably only Ivy Bee of the year along with the same Hoverfly assortment as earlier but with a few additions with three Cheiloisa soror, two Myathropa florea, Syrphus ribesii and two Platycheirus albimanus.  There were heaps of Wasps and a tiny Fruit Fly, Pollenia sp, Sarcs, Blues and Greens but best of all was a male Stomorhina lunata –the Locust Blowfly - that would not just stay still long enough for a photo in the shade.  I have seen this scarce migrant a couple of times at Rainham now so it was nice to see one close to home.

Seven Spot Ladybird


Sarc - a Flesh Fly

Pollenia sp with those golden hairs!

Pollenia sp again I think

Calliphora sp

Myathorpa florea and tiny friends

and a tiny fly buddy

Calliphora sp

Cheilosia soror

Common Wasp

Stomorhina lunataLocust Blowfly from RSPB Rainham Marshes 30th September 2019


A final shot of a roosting Black-lipped Hedge Snail and a glance up at the darkening heavens and it was time to make the final downhill stretch to home.


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