Saturday, 27 April 2013

Turtle Doves at Grove Ferry

Parking in the pay and display car park off Grove Ferry Road, we cross the road and head along the footpath towards the viewing platform.
Before reaching the platform, we pick up the "purring" of a Turtle Dove. It sounds close but no amount of scanning can locate the bird. 
At the viewing platform there's no sign of the Cattle Egret that has been present for a few days, Good views of a couple of male Marsh harrier's were seen from here. The reeds are alive with the sounds of Reed and Sedge Warblers.
Walking the paths and checking each viewable area for the Cattle Egret still draws a blank. The Konik Ponies are seen but minus the Cattle Egret.
While scanning the flooded fields area just beyond Harrison's Drove Hide a Wood Sandpiper drops in. It quickly disappears back in among the reeds.
Shortly afterwards everything present on the water is put up. A scan of the area reveals the reason why, a male Sparrowhawk is perched on a small tree stump right at the water's edge.
Heading back towards the car, local birder Dave calls to us and points out a Turtle Dove perched atop of a tree. It's too far away for any chance of a photo but it's great to get good scope views of this much declining species.

Meadow Pipit 
 We hit the road and head for Stodmarsh, checking the fields along the road for any sign of the Cattle Egret. Stodmarsh is very quiet, apart from plenty of Swallows flying low over the lake there's only a few Sand & House Martins present.
Cetti's Warblers are seemingly in every bush as we walk along the path and Whitethroats are very vocal.

A brief stop off at Blean Woods in search of any Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers fails to produce any sightings.


So its back in the car and next stop Oare Marshes. A scan of the first pool produces good sightings of Yellow Wagtails. There's also another year tick in the form of three Wimbrels as they fly across in front of us. Birdwise it's again quiet, but the ditches are alive with the sound of Marsh Frogs. 

Before heading for home, there's time for a drive along the entrance track at Elmley Marshes.
Yellow Wagtails are seen in good numbers, as are Lapwings, Redshanks, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. At the car park there's no sign of any Little Owls. Nearly into May and still no Little Owl tick!
Normally Little Owl is on the year list in the first week of January, but not this year.   

Little Egret

With rain and hail stones hitting the car on the way down towards Kent from Essex today, we did well to avoid most the the remaining showers. 
Adding another three year ticks along the way. 


  1. I have seen a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker on my patch this year - South Weald Country Park, and my wife has seen it at the same tree two additional times. Had a good sunday at Fingringhoe Wick and Abberton Resevoir, 5 new year ticks taking me to 131. I too haven't seen a little owl yet (or Short/Long Eared) and if you know any good spots I'd love to hear them!! Also, just a quick question, on Saturday me and the wife went to London and saw some real rarities at St. James' park. RC Pochard and Egyptian Goose to name but two. I've no idea if they're clipped or not (suspect they are), where do you stand on ticking? I've not ticked them, just noted what I saw, but would be interested in your opinion!


  2. Hi Adam
    I have never seen Lesser Spotted Woodpecker on my local patch, So I am a little jealous. In fact I have not seen Lesser Spot anywhere yet this year. I heard what I thought was a Lesser Spot drumming at Stodmarsh earlier this year but was not 100% certain so did not add it to my year list.
    I visit Abberton a few times each year. Sometimes a visit to the reserve, other times we just drive and stop along the causeways at Layer Breton. From this spot you may well see RC Pochard. But these are normally escape birds and have noticeably clipped wings. Sometimes there are 2-3 Red Breasted Geese there as well. These are also known escapes.
    I tend to follow the BOU list. Last time I checked RC Pochard was down as an AC2 (A) meaning they do occur as genuine wild birds and C2 meaning a naturalised breeding bird that were originally introduced or escaped. So unless the birds seen have clipped wings or are ringed or of known suspect origin I tick them. Same with Egyptian Geese.
    I have normally seen Little Owl by the first week of January, and normally it's on my local patch. But my timing or luck has been off this year and I have missed it on several occasions, even though others have been reporting them as present. I even had one sitting on the roof of the house opposite last year.
    Short-eared Owls are normally present in varying numbers at Rainham Marshes Reserve, more so in the winter months. I drive round to the back of the reserve along Coldharbour Lane. The habitat here is more suitable for the owls. Burwell Fen in Cambridge is good for Short-eared Owl sightings in winter and Wallasea Island can also attract Short-eareds. This site can also hold good numbers of calling Quail at the right time of year. You might not see them but if present you will certainly hear them within the long grass, Along with plenty of Corn Buntings.

    All the best

  3. Well checking through the photos it seems the Egyptian Goose is fully winged, and without a ring!!! Can't say the same for the Red Crested Pochard or Barnacle Geese, who looked clipped. Can't zoom in enough to check Ruddy Duck or Goldeneye, so they'll be staying off. But aftet checking bird forums it seems that alot of people have noted a big increse in feral Egyptian Geese in London parks, so I'll be ticking them!!! Thanks for the advice on Owls! Rainham is only up the road and I'll be going on Bank Holiday Monday to see the Hobbys! First Lakenheath Fen saturday fir Cranes and (hopefully) Golden Oriole!

    Good birding to you!

  4. Ruddy Duck is as you may know, the subject of a cull. Therefore many birders myself included will not advertise the presence of any Ruddy Ducks. I think there were less than 100 individual birds left in Britain at the last count. Goldeneye is a winter vistor to Britain and although an individual bird may sometimes linger beyond this time it is much rarer.
    We always head for Lakenheath at some point in May hoping for Golden Oriole. If any are already present at the weekend you should at least hear them. I had some really good views last year. It's also normally very good for Hobby and sometimes you get good sightings of Barn Owl. Maybe even a reeling Grasshopper Warbler.

    Enjoy your day, hope you see many new birds.