Thursday, 16 August 2012

My new Photography Website

Here is a link to my new Photography website
More photos to be added soon.
Please feel free to comment and share.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Hanningfield Reservoir 13/07/12

Yesterday I had a very good day at Hanningfield reservoir.
Despite the sky being grey in the morning I decided to take a chance and  go to the reservoir to see what I could find.
The first hide, Lyster was all but Bird less; only the ever present 'raft' cormorants and a few very distant black spots( Coots) were visible. But under the hide a small family of coots were visible including two near mature juveniles and it was nice to watch the families antics for a while.
RAWL hide was much better. There were 2 Red-crested Pochard viewable from the hide and this species was a lifer for the person in the hide with me. Apart from the Red Crests, there was a mixed flock of Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Mallard and a few coots. On the island A 3rd Summer Great Black-backed Gull was nice and a second appeared soon after. Some interesting behavior has seen next when the GBBG's flew off the island ans at least 3 Swift started to mob the Gulls some even making contact. After coming out of RAWL hide I herd reports of a Barn Owl hunting across the Grazing medow but I could not finf the Owl.
Point Hide was next and it wasnt much better than RAWL hide. But a good bird did appear in the form of an adult Yellow-legged Gull. Although distant on the island all the main identification features of the YLG were seen which makes the Gull the 4th Yellow-legged Gull I have seen at the reservoir. On the way back to the visitor centre the butterflies started to come out and many species let me come to with in touching distance of them. Species seen were Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Small and large Skipper and Red Admiral. An unusual raptor call was also herd which was most likely a Hobby and a female Bullfinch was also seen.

Too be continued...

Monday, 9 July 2012

Skomer Trip

Continuing my report on my Trip to Wales...
On Monday my long awaited Skomer trip had finally arrived, My family eventually set off from Borth at 9 o'clock and on the journey down I saw at least 15 Red Kite, some showing within a few metres of our car.
However as we approached Skomer we herd the news that we had been dreading, The island was full (It had been full since 9 o clock). After a quick discussion our family decided we would try and get a boat trip around the island then we would stay in the Deer hill national trust reserve around the island. But I knew that my chances of getting a good Puffin Photo had been dramatically slashed.
 My parents then went off to get a boat ride. After an antagonising wait, my parents came back and said that we had the last place on the boat trip! That meant that I would at least see Puffins (Lifer)
But before the boat trip I had time to do some birding around the peninsular, my Target being Red-billed Chough. And with in 5 minutes I was looking at 2, distant but stunning Red-billed Chough (Lifer). Seeing that my family were heading over to the boat I hurried along as well, I really didn't want to miss the boat. I finally got to the boat jetty and luckily my family were second in the queue. Around the jetty there were some Wheatear and a racing pigeon and a few gannets were flying in the distance. After an hours wait the boat came and we boarded and got great seats. The boat trip started well, I saw lots of Razorbill and Guilemots and a few Herring Gull but so far no Puffins. Then as we rounded the corner Skomer came into view and with Skomer came the Puffins, 100s of Puffins! After the puffin fest came a trip round the island which yielded lots more Razorbill, Guillemot, Puffin and a Shag. Kittiwakes and Great Black-backed Gulls were seen nesting on the island.
Then on the approach back to the mainland I saw a very heavy bodied gull like bird and photos that I took revealed that it was  Northern Fulmar another Lifer.
Back on the mainland I got some good view and photos of Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Common Whilethroat, Linnet, Swallow (Very close swallows) and Wheatear. I also got better views of the Chough and then I saw a flock of 15 Chough. What A sight! So all in all a very good day even though I didn't get on Skomer. And to top the day off, I saw a very close Common Buzzard on the drive home.
Barn Swallow, These Swallows near the Jetty were perfect for Photography

Atlantic Puffin. This was the Closest I got to my target Species. You can see the Sand eels in its bill.

A colony of Razorbills on Skomer

The Only Shag seen.

The only Northern Fulmar seen. A lifer for me.

A rubbish Photo of a Red-billed Chough. A brilliant lifer for me. One of 19 seen.

Bettewr views of Razorbull.

Some of the Nesting Kittiwake's

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Grass Snake

Yesterday I went fishing with my friend to the River chelmer (As all my exams are finished). Well I didn't really go fishing I was birding and reptiling But I really enjoyed watching my friend fish.
From a birding perspective the day was pretty poor, only a few whitethroats, song thrush and warblers were of note. However reptiling was much better as I caught my first Grass snake (0.50cm). The snake was a stunning creature and was very docile, makes me want to catch more. We released the snake after holding it.
Fishing was also good as I saw 2 new species of fish, Rudd and Chub.
In total my friend caught
4 Chub
2 Rudd
2 Perch
1 Dace
1 Roach.
So a really good day, this evening I am off to photograph some Whitethroats.

I will write up the rest of my Wales trip soon.

The Stunning Grass Snake

My friends perch
My Friend Holding the Grass snake, I held the snake too, what an amazing experience!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Borth Sunday

The day started off very wet and I stupidly went birding in the morning, which was pretty pointless as I only saw a few birds of note; Wheatear, Rock pipit, A few more Manx shearwater and a solitary Razorbill. I came back to the Caravan soggy, wet and cold. Not a good start. However the afternoon was much better. I got my best ever views of a stunning Red Kite being mobbed by a Jackdaw and I had a great rock pooling session. Although I only caught a few crabs I saw lots of fish and anemones in the pools which was great.( Which I will identify later)
So the day ended well, and I had Skomer to look forward to the next day...
Birds seen today of note
Red Kite
Rock Pipit x2
Northern Wheatear x2
Great Black-backed Gull
Gannet x4
Manx Shearwater x20
Commonn Tern
Jackdaw x100
Common Whitethroat.

No pictures today because of the horrendous rain.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Wales Trip Saturday 2nd June

On the 2nd June, my long awaited Wales trip finally began. My family would be based near Borth, Wales, and this gave me some great Sea-watching opportunities that I rarely get down in Essex. The only problem was that this trip wasn't a Birding focused trip so every minute I could spend Birding was precious.
After a long drive up to Brynowen , I finally was able to go birding. I stationed my self at the Borth headland on a conveniently placed bench and began a long evening sea watch. The sea bird life here was fantastic and an hour long sea-watch yielded some impressive birds. The first birds I saw were some diving gannets, I had never seen a gannet dive before so that was very special. The most numerous sea bird though was Manx shearwaters. These fantastic birds performed very well for me and I saw in excess of 100 in this small bay. The highlight of the evening was though my first lifer of the trip, A stunning Balearic Shearwater close to the headland. The Balearic Shearwater is listed by the IUCN as critically endangered which is a shame but at least I have now seen and appreciated it.

One of the Gannets seen and some Herring Gulls
A poor record shot
A full List of birds seen Day 1
Balearic Shearwater 1
Manx Shearwater 100+
Gannet 2
Cormorant 2
Swallow 10
Razorbill 1
Herring Gull 20+
Marsh Harrier 1
Kestrel 1
Carrion Crow 2
Common Tern 2
Rook 10
Jackdaw 100+
Oystercatcher 2
Blackbird 2
House Sparrow 20+

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Hanningfield Reservoir

I had a good day out at Hanningfield reservoir yesterday. I arrived at the reserve at half 12 and Immediately herd the lovely song of many Blackcaps and too be honest for the first 20 mins, Blackcaps were the only good bird I saw apart from some Egyptian geese in the grazing meadow.
The Blue Shield Bug
The Island (Only just!)
The view from Lyster hide was empty of birds as usual, the only birds seen were some Common terns a good 500m away. A quick check of the pond near RAWL hide failed to produce any Migrant warblers but I did spot a Blue Shield Bug which I have never seen before. Unsurprisingly RAWL hide was also very empty and the island (Which is normally the best bit for birds) was almost flooded over so no birds were seen there.
The Red-crested Pochard from a good 300m away (Heavily Cropped)
Things started to get better at Point hide though. A brief scan revealed lots of close Gt crested Grebe, Gadwall and A very close Lesser Black-backed Gull which was good for photography. The on the island I saw a Male Red-crested Pochard, the bird of the Day and my only new bird for this year of the day. A few very close fly-bys of some Canada geese and some fighting coots ended a good stay in the hide.
The close Lesser Black-backed Gull
The way back to the visitor centre was much more eventful than the walk to the hides. Firstly tne blackcaps were back in full song and a few showed very well. But then just passed RAWL hide, I made my sighting of the day a beautiful Weasel and a little Wood mouse. Two very good mammals in one. I actually find Haningfield very good for Weasels. Near the Weasel was a small flock of long-tailed tits and I stayed to photograph them although I was soon distracted by a very close Willow Warbler in amongst the flock.
Three of the ever present Stock doves.
Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff?
Back at the visitor centre I was treated to the ever reliable Stock dove group(4 this time) and a Great spotted woodpecker showing well.

So all in all a good day, now off to revise for my Biology Exam on Monday.

Monday, 7 May 2012

A Birthday treat

As today was my Birthday and a Bank holiday, I decided to take a break form my revision for my exams so I could cycle down and see some good local birds. There were reports of some good waders near Little Baddow Bridge so off I went. A quick stop off at Baddow meads produced some whitethroats and Reed bunting but the floods had now gone and with them the chance of any waders.
So off I cycled to Little Baddow Bridge which proved to be a very difficult cycle. But it was worth it. When I arrived, the first bird I saw was a shelduck a good local bird. This looks promising, and it only got better. A scan of the water grasses produced some cracking birds and finally some waders. The first birds I saw were some Little Ringed plovers with some little chicks which was very nice to see as it was the first time I had seen LRP chicks and it confirmed that they were breeding in the area. I then saw a Common Sandpiper which is a moderately rare bird in Essex as they only really occur as passage migrants. But to my surprise there was not just one Common Sandpiper, 6 of them soon emerged.
And then the bird of the day appeared, a stunning Wood Sandpiper, only the 3rd one I have ever seen( This wasn't a self found, the bird was found yesterday).
Other good birds seen were some yellow wagtails, a few linnets, a few lapwings displaying, Sand Martin, House Martin, Swift, Swallow, two Red-legged Partridge and a few whitethroats. So all in all a very good day with 4 year listers seen: Yellow Wagtail, Little Ringed Plover(The first year I have seen this species before Ringed Plover), Common Sandpiper and Not forgetting the Wood sandpiper.
Sadly I didn't take any photos because of the rain and the birds were quite far away.

Saturday, 5 May 2012


Today I was meant to go to Hanningfield reservoir but at the last minute the Trip was called off.
So I decided to go to Baddow meads instead to see what I could find. When I arrived I noticed that the meads were flooded due to the heavy rains we have had down in Essex and I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to see some unusual, rarely seen birds on my local patch, my main target being waders.
The trip started off well, with a few Northern Wheatear being seen around the bridge of the meads with one female 'greenland' Wheatear being seen amongst the flock. which was a new subspecies for me and wheatear was a year list bird.

A average shot of one of the many present Wheatears
I then started to scan the pools created by the flood with my scope. Sadly there seemed to be no waders but there were lots of Gulls to keep me company, five species in all: Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull. Few more minutes of scanning for waders produced no birds and I decided to move on .
Near the edge of the meads I noticed a lot of corvid activity with three species being noted: 1) The ever present Carrion Crows, 2) A flock of 5 Jackdaw  3) A superbly showing Jay which allowed me to get very close and allowed me to get some reasonable pictures.

An average photo of a jay that allowed me to get very close.
Other highlights from the meads were some Very close Swifts and Swallows a few well showing Pied wagtails and Reed Buntings and finally a wader, not on the meads but flying over were 2 Lapwings.

After the unsuccessful wader hunt, I decided to take a walk along the River Chelmer as I had herd that Kingfishers were showing well. Although my walk yielded no Kingfishers I did see a few good birds. I finally caught up with some Common Whitethroats, this time last year I had seen plenty of Common Whitethroats but this year there has been a noticeable decrease of Spring migrants in the area so it was good to see a Whitethroat. I just hope that it hasn't been a terrible winter for the spring migrants in Africa. Other god birds seen along the river were a Very close Blackcap, A hunting Kestrel that caught a vole and a House Martin.

Finally a Whitethroat!
So all in all the day was a good day although the promising meads failed to yield any Waders.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

A rainy Baddow Meads

Today I decided to brave the rain and head down to a very muddy Baddow meads. I did see some good birds including very good views of A male reed Bunting, very close views of skylark and a very close fly-by from a large Carrion Crow. It seems that the Glossy Ibis has moved on and was last reported up river. However the bird of the day was a Chiffchaff that had an unusual call/song. It may have been a Siberian chiffchaff, but I will never know for sure as I didn't get a good view. One thing I have noticed though is the lack of migrants about. This time last year I was seeing Whitethroat, Sedge warbler and Reed Warbler on this patch but this year I am still awaiting a sighting of any of these birds. I just hope that the reason isn't a terrible winter in Africa.
It was too wet for photography so sadly there are no photos of this outing.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Glossy Ibis self found

Glossy Ibis on Baddow Meads Essex

On the 24th March 2012 I found A stunning Winter plumage Glossy Ibis on my local patch, Baddow Meads, Essex. The Bird had previously been rung in Spain, seen in Wales and then seen in Maldon. I knew this because the bird had the ring number 8J9. On the day I found it I was annoyed that I couldn't go to Maldon to see the ibis and a Green-winged teal (Which I never saw) so I was very surprised to find the bird on my local patch instead. And another plus was it saved me from going on another 'twitch' and personally I don't really like twitching.
The Ibis stayed for at least 3 weeks and was seen by many people.
Here are some pictures of the stunning Bird which is my first major self found.
The bird was great to photograph.
A close up
You can clearly see the ring in this photo.
And as you can see the bird showed extreamly well
My best photo

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


Welcome to my blog.
I will try to update it as much as possible with my wildlife photography and nature/birding trips.
Thanks for visiting.