Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Woodchat Shrike, Rochford

On the journey home from Frampton yesterday, news came through of an adult Woodchat Shrike present at Rochford in Essex. Having only seen one before in this country that being a juvenile at Chipping Sodbury in 2017, I was very keen to see an adult bird, and the fact it was in my home County strengthen the feelings. Unfortunately, the diversion from where we were would have added at least two more hours on to our journey, so we decided to wait and hope it stayed overnight.

Fortunately, it was soon found this morning and we were soon heading along the M25 and A127 towards Rochford. We Parked in Mill Lane and from here it was a short walk along the public footpath and we soon saw a small gathering of birders standing along the far edge of the field. 

The shrike was spotted before we had even joined them, but as the wind became stronger it would shelter lower down among the branches, occasionally reappearing in the more open areas only to disappear again.

Woodchat Shrike

Below is a short video taken by hand holding the phone to the scope.

Time was limited, but Wallasea was only 5 miles away and we had time for a very brief visit. We were hoping to get views of Corn Bunting and we found one sitting up singing in a bush very close to the entrance track.

A brief trip this morning to add a much-welcomed addition to my Essex list and two to my year list.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Dotterel at Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire

A visit to Frampton Marsh this morning was well overdue. It's been almost ten months since my last visit to what is my favourite reserve in England. We left early and arrived at the old car park around 7am. The water pools on the wet grasslands were mirror-like to look at. We were hoping a Dotterrel had stayed overnight and we headed off along the sea bank towards the cross-bank in search of it, stopping on the way when a Wood Sandpiper was found. The Dotterel was found soon afterward feeding among a small flock of Golden Plover. If you continue along the grassland trail it takes you back to the car park. We did this and located two Yellow Wagtails in the next field for another addition to my year list.

Dotterel Field with Marsh Farm Barn in the distance

Looking back across the reserve from the sea bank

Dotterel with Golden Plover


As we left the car park this morning we had views of a sleeping Jack Snipe, and when we returned we found it out in the open feeding close to the path.

Jack Snipe

Wood Sandpiper

A walk along the Wash Trail was productive when a Spoonbill was spotted to give Brian another year tick, but I failed to locate any Spotted Redshank among the numerous Dunlin, Ruff, Ringed Plovers, Black and Bar-tailed Godwits. 

It was good to be back at Frampton, with friendly welcoming staff, and during the visit, I managed to add five new additions to my year list before we left for home.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Back birding in Norfolk after 13 months

It's been over a year since I last visited Norfolk. Finally, after thirteen months we made our first trip to Norfolk today. The day started with a brief stop at Hunstanton where the expected Fulmars showed almost immediately. Then it was on to Titchwell, where we planned to spend the bulk of our day birding. We walked to the viewing screen overlooking Patsy's Pool where a scan for a Jack Snipe was interrupted by a reeling Grasshopper Warbler close by. We walked the track alongside the pool and found the gropper perched at the top of a bush in full song.

We returned to the viewing screen and soon found a Green Sandpiper feeding alongside a Common Sandpiper. Another birder managed to locate the Jack Snipe only metres from the viewing screen, and with a few directions, we were all watching it soon afterwards.

Jack Snipe


On the walk to the beach, another two Grasshopper Warblers were heard reeling and Brian added a Bearded Tit to his year list, several flocks of Brent Geese were a surprise but a welcome addition to my own list. The conditions at the beach were challenging to say the least, but I added Knot and Gannet to my yearly total.

Brancaster Staithe was very disappointing, but boats were being removed from the water by cranes and disturbance was understandable and inevitable. We had planned on stopping at Thornham Harbour but with the road to the harbour closed, we drove to Wells North Pools instead. A Wood Sandpiper was showing relatively close to the viewing area upon arrival.

We stopped at Choseley and dad found a single Whimbrel and several Yellowhammers were seen around the bottom of the Pheasant feeders positioned along the edge of the fields.

A final stop at Lynford produced a Marsh Tit for Brians year list and a well overdue Coal Tit for my own. On the return walk, I heard a Firecrest singing in the ivy-clad trees and Brian managed decent views of it. At the feeding station another Firecrest was seen and this time it lingered long enough for all of us to get superb views.


Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Black-winged Stilt, Rainham Marshes

Sitting at home this morning with no plans to go birding, but that soon changed when a Black-winged Stilt was reported at Rainham Marshes. Thirty minutes later the car is parked in the Rainham car park and I'm going through the track and trace procedures at the entrance. After entering the reserve I learn that the Stilt had flown West! A leisurely stroll around the reserve followed, the highlight of which was a self-found drake Garganey. Several Bearded Tits were heard and then seen for a year tick addition, A quick check of the news services and I discover that the Stilt had reappeared on Purfleet Scrape! We headed back towards the reserve centre and luckily met Howard V on the way who kindly guided us to the area the Stilt was feeding in.

Black-winged Stilt

Having returned home Brian phoned this evening to ask if I knew that there had been a report of three Black-necked Grebes present on Roding Valley Lake. The lake is almost on my doorstep, a quick walk to the lake and sure enough, the three Black-necked Grebes were spotted slowly drifting around in the middle of the lake! 

The lake has now recorded four of the five Grebe species seen in Britain, with a Red-necked Grebe seen in 2017 and Great Crested and Little Grebe almost resident. 

Unfortunately, they were not present the next morning having departed overnight. 

Black-necked Grebes

Monday, 19 April 2021

Ring Ouzel. Easneye, Hertfordshire

An early morning visit to Easneye was delayed due to heavy traffic soon after leaving home. Thankfully it was only a relatively short journey and armed with detailed site directions from Ron C, I was soon parked up alongside Wilberforce cottages and heading up the footpath towards Waterplace Farm. Passing the beehives I reached the small horse paddock to find it shrouded in mist. 

The sun rose and began burning the mist off and after several scans I eventually found the Ring Ouzel feeding along the back of the paddock. It soon flew and was relocated feeding in the next paddock with the horses.

It began feeding among the horses before heading back to the previous paddock. It became more settled and began feeding with the numerous Fieldfares, Redwings, Song and Mistle Thrushes.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

White Stork, Lee Valley

Having returned home from watching the Garganey at Hall Marsh Scrape, news came through that a White Stork was now present on the scrape! It appeared to be unringed and was certainly worth an early visit this morning. The Stork was still present when I arrived having roosted overnight. It was asleep but soon awoke and started to feed

It has since been reported as having a clipped wing, but it didn't seem to hamper its flight. As it was recorded flying high above houses. Whether it has a Clipped wing, escaped, or released it's still a stunning-looking bird.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Garganey, Lee Valley

An afternoon visit to the Lee Valley in search of the reported Garganey proved successful when it was found busily feeding in the corner of Hall Marsh Scrape. Although it remained distant I grabbed a photo with my phone handheld to the scope. Luckily the hide was empty allowing time to scan the scrape for anything else that may be present and was rewarded with a single Little Ringed Plover.


A couple of hours birding added five additions to the year list. Garganey, Little Ringed Plover, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, and a pair of Kingfishers were all seen in the immediate area of the scrape.