Monday 30 August 2010

Honey Buzzards

Check out Roger's Honey Buzzard photos from last week:

Sunday 29 August 2010

The Thames Odyssey

Curlew Sandpiper (left) and Dunlin, Oare Marshes, Kent.
Spent the weekend on the Thames Estuary with Simon and Sam. We started off on the Essex side and then made our way on to the Kent Side. Highlights included: Red-necked Phalarope, Kentish Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, 26+ Curlew Sandpiper, 1 juv Little Stint, 1 Garganey, 1 Spoonbill and 1 Wood Sandpiper.

Kentish Plover in flight, Cliffe Pools, Kent (plover on bottom right). Also at Cliffe Adult Pectoral Sandpiper, 20+ Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 2 Greenshank, 70+ Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plover, 150+ Avocet and 50+ Grey Plover.

Juvenile Red-necked Phalarope at Vange Marsh, Essex.

Juvenile Spoonbill at Vange Marsh, Essex. Also present here 1 Little Stint, 5 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Dunlin, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Garganey, 4 Wigeon, 100+ Teal, 10+ Gadwall, 20+ Shoveler and the Red-necked Phalarope.
Golden Plovers at Oare Marshes, Kent. Also at this site 1000+ Black-tailed Godwit, 250+ Golden Plover, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 8 Dunlin, 5 Yellow Wagtail and 4 Ruff.

Friday 27 August 2010


I spent today running from my desk to the window trying to get my work done while being frequently interrupted by phone calls from outside the window. First of all I managed to miss a flock of Grey Plover because I had to go to the yard and on my return I couldn't get onto an Osprey which was heading south. Then shocking news- a Honey Buzzard heading south east which I saw as a tiny dot and then an hour or so later Johnny called me again- another Honey Buzzard over the lake but I just couldn't get onto it. In between all this Simon was frequently calling me of news of a huge seabird push up the Thames- Sabine's Gulls, Long-tailed, Pom, Arctic and Great Skuas in good numbers pushing up river. Seabirds were flying up river past Rainham and a Great Skua at Bough Beech indicated that at least some where cutting across land. I managed to complete my work by 1530 and spent the evening on the farm but it was too late. All I managed to rustle up was a Yellow Wagtail and this adult male Wheatear (in its autumn plumage). At times like this the word 'bugger' springs to mind.

Thursday 26 August 2010

Less waders, more warblers

Had a quick walk round Beddington this evening- lots of Chiffchaffs, a few Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and 1 Lesser Whitethroat. I have missed Redstart and Garganey in the last few days. I only saw single Green and Common Sandpipers and Greenshank this evening. About 10 Swifts darting around.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Musical Interlude

Here is another shameless, irrelevant plug for the band I am in. This song is called Lovely Katie.

Monday 23 August 2010

Azores Stint

I photographed this bird in October 2005 in the Cabo da Praia quarry, Terceira, the Azores. I identified it as a first winter Semi-palmated Sandpiper- in the company of a White-rumped Sandpiper (left) and a Least Sandpiper (right). The chaps from the other side of the pond (from ID Frontiers), have called it up and have concluded it is a Little Stint.

Friday 20 August 2010

Spot Fly

Our first Spotted Flycatcher of the year this evening. Also one Hobby, 50+ Swifts, 20+ House Martins, the 4 juvenile Shelduck, 1 Greenshank, 10 Green Sandpiper, 6 Common Sandpiper, 4 Shoveler, 6 Teal and I dipped the eclipse male Garganey that is around.

Tuesday 17 August 2010


Really enjoying the good passage of Willow Warbler (top) and Chiffchaffs (bottom). Also this evening 1 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 100+ Swift, 15 House Martin, 5 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Whitethroats and this morning I had Yellow Wagtail over.

Monday 16 August 2010

Just love Willow Warblers

I counted 20+ Willow Warblers along the path this evening with a few Chiffys too. Also 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Whitethroat and 3 Blackcap. Very few Swifts tonight and one migrant Swallow going over. Also a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Greenshank, 10+ Green Sandpiper and 4 Common Sandpiper.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Another good day

Classic conditions today for visible migration at Beddington. A light to moderate north-east wind with heavy overcast has the effect of causing major migration pathways to be deflected both westwards and low bringing them into our territory and vision. Birds from the continent are pushed across the North Sea and some make their way up the Thames and then across land to the south coast. It is these birds that we see at the farm. Today was pretty special we had 1 Osprey moving southwest, 1 Marsh Harrier south (pic 1), 4 Whimbrel west, 1 juvenile Ruff (pic 2) circling, a flock of 21 Cormorants (pic 3) drifted southwest, 2 Common Terns flew south and 27 Teal, 10 Shoveler and 3 Snipe arrived on site. There was also 17 Green Sandpiper, 4 Common Sandpiper, 3-4 Greenshank and 1 Whinchat.

Saturday 14 August 2010

Good autumn day

A good bit of autumn birding with a fly over Marsh Harrier, 1st win Wheatear (pic 1), 17 Green Sandpiper, up to six Greenshank, 5 Common Sandpiper, 50+ Lapwing, 7 Teal, 1 Garden Warbler, 10+ Willow/Chiff, 10+ Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, 150+ Swift, 6 House Martin, 2 Sand Martin, 2 Swallow, 1 Hobby, 17 Cormorants flew W, 2 Sparrowhawk, 20+ Long-tailed Tit and also the female Red-crested Pochard (which I forgot to mention before) is still present.

Friday 13 August 2010


Plenty of passerines around today- at least three flocks of tits and warblers on the west side between the park and common. Must have been 15+ Willow Warbler (pic 1), 3-4 Chiffchaff, 2-3 Lesser Whitethroat, 10+ Whitethroat, 8+ Blackcap (pic 3), Sedge Wabler (pic 2) and 5+ Reed Warbler along this stretch.
I heard a LRP from the obs yesterday morning and on 100 acre there were 10+ Green Sandpiper, 3 Common Sandpiper, 4 Teal and 2 Greenshank.

Wednesday 11 August 2010

Seedlings and Ducklings

Spent the morning putting in some more reeds into the Southern lake. We have to build protective fences around the reeds to ironically stop the birds (who this is all for) from eating them. There are more hungry mouths too with news broods of Tufted Duck (pic 1), Mallard, Moorhen and Coot and also the four juvenile Shelducks (pic 2) are still about.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Turnstone, Blackwit and Ferret

A cold front and rain moving on south west winds produced some interesting vis mig today. The gents at the hide had up to 12 Turnstone and after Roger called me I managed to connect with one from the obs window. Also while I was scanning for the Turnstones, 3 Black-tailed Godwit dropped onto the lake and soon after I look down into the obs garden and saw this creature (pic 1) walking across the lawn. I guess it is someones escaped pet ferret but I've been birding on this farm for 24 years and I aint never seen one of them before.

Also here is a link to a great post showing the remains of the Sutton Peregrine meals- many of these birds were probably caught over Beddington:

Sunday 8 August 2010

Beddington Farmlands 'Early Autumn Bird Walk'

40 people joined in the 'Early Autumn Bird Tour' and we saw a good suite of birds typical for this time of year. On the lakes we saw juvenile Shelducks and also Tufted Ducks with newly hatched broods. As usual there were plenty of Grey Herons on the lakes. A 2nd summer Yellow-legged Gull was on the mounds.

On Hundred Acre Conservation Bed we saw about 10 Green Sandpipers (pic one-click on pic to enlarge), 4 Common Sandpipers, 30+ Lapwing and 5-6 Pied Wagtails. A family party of four Swallows dropped in and a Sparrowhawk darted through.

The group of passerines (song birds) by the burnt field were still present with a small group of Tree Sparrow, a few Whitethroats and at least one Lesser Whitethroat.
We finished off back at the Northern Lake where we found the Greenshank, which was present yesterday, and had closer views of the Shelducks and Tufted Duck families.

David Stanley made a log of the species seen/heard* by the group (52 species in just over 2 hours):

Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Swift, Kingfisher*, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Reed Warbler*, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff*, Willow Warbler*, Jay*, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow,
Starling, Tree Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet

Saturday 7 August 2010

August Downpour

Nick, Gripper and I got soaked in a tropical-like down pour this evening. A few bits and bobs about including 1 Greenshank, 20+ Green Sandpiper, 6 Common Sandpiper, 1 adult Hobby, 4 juvenile Shelduck on the lake and also 4 Willow Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Sedge Warbler and 5+ Whitethroat.

The Swifts have been coming and going throughout the week- groups appear and than disappear so maybe birds are moving south now. Hobby has been daily for the last three days so maybe these are migrants too.

Not many Blackcaps about so perhaps these have moved on and Reed Warblers have either moved on or keeping very quiet.

The Beddington 'Glaucous-winged Gull' Update

The famous Beddington Gull is in the news again. A photo of this fascinating individual has won third place in the British Birds Carl Zeiss Award 2010. This award is presented for photographs which are instructive in the assessment of rarities.
Interestingly the British Birds Rarities Committee commented that the award winning photo was selected because it was considered to have captured the critical features of Glaucous-winged Gull and indeed this is accurate.

However out of the large selection of photographs that were taken of this bird, this was the only photo to suggest so many critical features. If you consider the photo below, this photo captures a very different bird which suggests little in the way of Glaucous-winged Gull structural features.
The optimum way of considering photographs in the assessment of difficult rarities (especially where structure and colour tones are critical) is to look at a range of photographs at different angles and lighting. The 'true' bird should emerge as an interpretation of a balance of this range. On balance the Beddington Bird did not appear to show all the critical features and the award winning photo has captured a moment- a posture, angle, effect of black wire in back ground accentuating depth of bill, angle of photographer, distance of bird from photographer etc. For this reason indeed it is certainly an award winning photo as it very instructive and high lights the perils of interpretating too much from a single photograph in the assessment of a rarity.

More on this gull here:

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Tuesday 3 August 2010

I need a Butterfly Book

I am planning on buying a butterfly book at the Bird Fair. Common Blue I guess?

Planting Day

We (Little Oak) spent today planting reeds at the farmlands and also planting new plants on the Flower Estate.

Been working too hard recently but still kept the bins round my neck. I had a Curlew fly over the obs on Sunday, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull seen overhead on Sunday and on the lake today and also a juvenile Common Gull on the lake today. Hobby this evening.

Sunday 1 August 2010

Thames Estuary Essex

Spent yesterday with Simon checking out a few Essex Thames sites. Numbers of staging waders and terns (Sandwich Tern, pic 1) are beginning to build.

Juvenile Oystercatcher (note dark eye and fresh remiges). Adults have deep red eyes and many are in various states of moult this time of year.

Presumed schinzii Dunlin from Canvey Point in the spring 2010. Note the rich rufous tinged upperparts compared to much darker looking birds at the same location yesterday. This is due to the fringes being worn off- accentuated I guess by the long days and harsh environment of their tundra breeding areas.

Presumed schinzii Dunlin from Canvey Point in late July 2010 (Pic by Simon). In just over two months these birds have travelled to their northern breeding grounds, bred and are now 'back' at Canvey. Schinzii will stage in the Thames and head further south for the winter (many in West Africa)- to be replaced by the race alpina that winters in the Thames.