Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Tuesday, 31 May 2016


I've been seeing lots of woodland birds recently on my ventures out. All done purposely of course, as I want to catch up with as many migrants as I can. I just felt I needed to get back to some waders once again though, and so I have decided to post a very handsome looking Turnstone on the beach at Titchwell earlier this Spring.

There were plenty knocking about on the rocks at the shoreline, but there was quite a gap between the two groups of rocks. This guy decided to go over the top into no man's land, where I was waiting to shoot him down with my camera.
We both came out on top, as he made it to the other side and I got some lovely pictures.

He can feel the intensity of my eye through the lens.

Sunday, 29 May 2016


Lapwings have been a feature in recent months on my patch in Woodford. Some have been fortunate enough to raise some young, others have not been so lucky. All the while though, the sound and sight of them has been a real pleasure. Their acrobatic displays are always a better distraction than another Woodpigeon overhead. Add to that the sounds they make (a bit like tuning in an old radio) it's all you need to brighten up a walk.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Woolston Eyes Nature Reserve

Woolston is such a large reserve that you never really know what you might see. There could be literally anything lurking anywhere. There are the site usuals that you would expect to see at certain times of the year, and then you get something quite out of this world like the White-crowned Sparrow that turned up a few weeks back.
One of the highlights of the spring and summer are the Black-necked Grebes. Very small birds, but what they lack in size they make up for in colour. They tend to stay away from the shore line and therefore the hides, but with a scope, they are great to watch.
Here are some of the regulars and the not so common Black-necked Grebes.

Shelduck in front of the Morgan hide.

Willow Warbler in song.

Black-necked Grebe in it's fine breeding plumage.

A well hidden male Blackcap.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Where's that Warbler?

A visit to Astley Moss recently meant I got to see a lot of the usual farmland birds. There were Tree Sparrows and Yellowhammers aplenty, and some of the summer migrant warblers too. The song of the Willow Warbler is nice to hear, but they're not always that easy to see. I find that once I've located them I have to second guess where they are going to move to next. Which branch? Up or down? Left or right? Thankfully the trees were not in full leaf and made my life a little easier.

The Common Whitethroat is another bird that doesn't make life easy for you. You can hear it, but not always see it. Then just as you think you're about to lay eyes on it, there it goes, further away than before.

Common Whitethroat, this time playing nicely.

Willow Warbler, before moving off again.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Corn Bunting

I'd only ever seen a Corn Bunting once before and it was a fleeting glimpse from a car as it sat on an overhead telephone wire. Not really the best view. I've been on the search when I think I am in the right areas for them, but with no luck. Sites in Norfolk have always drawn a blank when it seems everyone else can find them.
So the other week when I was at Martin Mere, I made the walk out of the reserve to an area where they were supposed to be. I got good directions and my luck was in. Singing from the top of a tree, there he was. An unusual song. It made a few fluttering flights, almost Pipit/Skylark like and returned.
This one Corn Bunting put a smile on my face, and put my year list at 160.

Saturday, 21 May 2016


The call of the Goldfinch always take me back to my childhood. I have fond memories of gazing out of my bedroom window at the telephone lines, looking and listening to these birds. They were so different to the Sparrows and Starlings that I could identify back then. So colourful from front to back, and a song that was a lot more tuneful than either the House Sparrow or Starling.

Keeping safe in a bush at Martin Mere.

Thursday, 19 May 2016


My last visit to Norfolk, at Easter time, took me back to Sculthorpe Moor near Fakenham. I do really like this reserve. It is peaceful and full of wildlife, you can feel a thousand miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, as though it is just you and nature. Not something that is easy to do in this day and age.
At the Whitley hide you can look across the marshes for harriers and other birds of prey, while close by there are some feeders that brings the smaller birds in.



 The view from the hide. Such a vast area to lose yourself in.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Little Egret - Loughton

When I used to live in Loughton, Little Egrets were a rarity in the country. You'd never see one. If you did, it would have been a Mega situation. Now, when I go back and visit my parents, I find myself being disappointed if I haven't seen one. They are that common in this part of Essex these days.
Last weekend I visited Roding Valley nature reserve several times and saw at least two each time, and four on my first visit. I could stand and watch them all day as they shuffle their feet on the stony river bed and then pounce to catch their prey. All the while, keeping an air of elegance about themselves.

Leaving the roost site.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve

It's a good time for birds all over the country at the moment and Loughton in Essex is no different. The Spring and Summer migrants are back in now and bird song and activity is at its peak.
Around the lake at Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve there is a real cacophony of noise. Reed Warblers are in a couple of locations churring away. Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs are all in competition and then you can here the yaffle of the Green Woodpecker in the background. Every now again you can get the whistle like call of the Kingfisher as it shoots along the River Roding, usually low and out of sight. A special time of year to take a walk.

Reed Warbler.

Common Whitethroat.

Young Mallards.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Wheatear - Woodford

I kept checking and I kept checking, but there had been no sign of the returning Wheatears on my patch on all of my visits in April. I visited Old Hall Lane and its surrounding areas most evenings and at weekends hoping to catch up with them. No such luck. Lots has changed in the area that they used to visit (Woodford aerodrome). 950 houses are on their way and so there is a lot of disturbance with vehicles moving about and noise etc. A lot of the land still remains wild (for now), but I do have horrid thoughts that these may be the last times I will see these birds here. So I was desperate to keep up my search. If they were there I wanted to see them.

April came and went, and it wasn't until the 2nd of May that I finally managed to find one. A couple of weeks later than usual. It was on the golf course, looking superb. It was still there on the 5th and a little closer to the road. I do hope these aren't the last few pictures that I get of them on my patch, but I fear that this habitats days are numbered and that will probably mean fewer and fewer visits, if any, by these stunning Summer migrants in the years to come.

Insect picking on Old Hall Farm.

Perched on the fence between the airfield and the golf course.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Brent Goose

Of the many wintering geese that visit these shores I think the Brent (or Brant) Goose is my favourite.
There is something I find a little different about these particular geese. They are a smallish bird and therefore maybe not quite as intimidating as some of the others. Not that you can get close to any of them. They're certainly not like the Canada geese you get at your local park.
They look dainty and I just like everything about them. So it's sad to see that they'll be gone now until the Autumn time. I look forward to welcoming them back.

In flight above Titchwell.

Quite dainty for a goose.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Mandarin Duck - Macclesfield

I found this very smart looking male Mandarin duck on the banks of Bottoms reservoir in Macclesfield. They have been in the area for a number of years and although not native to this country, they are quite pretty to look at.

Very photogenic and colourful.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Common Sandpiper

I went looking for some Common Sandpiper a week or two ago and drew a blank in the usual local areas. Then I got lucky at Pennington Flash when I wasn't really expecting or looking for them. That's the way it goes with birding. You never really know what you will see.
It's quite a small wading bird, and I was surprised to see it was not too dissimilar in size to the Little Ringed Plover that was close by. I usually see them on their own and for some reason always thought they looked a bit bigger.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Ring Ouzel

This is a bird I always look forward to arriving back on my adopted patch. It's not always an easy bird to spot and not always guaranteed. There have been years where I've not seen one at all, which lead me to think that maybe they are just on passage and my timing was out. This year however my luck was certainly in.
A nice bright and early morning saw me looking  down the valley at Danebower in bright sunshine. I had come across a pair a few nights earlier but they didn't hang around and were quite distant.
This time though, I had one in song from the old chimney.

The valley at Danebower.

The chimney in the quarry. 

The Ring Ouzel. A nice male on the corner of the chimney.

Showing a very nice crisp white bib.