Saturday, 21 March 2009

A productive day

Quite apart from the awesomeness of the rugby (mentioned below), today was a rather good day for birding.

I took a wander over to Harrow Lodge park/Dagenham Chase riverside and saw many interesting things.

First off was finch sized thing that flitted out of the tree as I was passing beneath (trying to put the sun behind me for a better view), but as it went I got a definite impression of greenness, and I got a very good earful of its song. Rapid high pitched notes, not a Great Tit - sounds like Greenfinch to me. Nice site tick.

This is the point at which I started to wish I'd bought a camera, because what was supposed to be a quick bird before the rugby started was beginning to get interesting. Yes they were only Coots who happened to be nesting in the weir pool, but they'd managed to incorporate some kind of bright orange sweet wrapping into their nest, and being the kind of birder I am, I desperately wanted to find out what brand of confectionery they had chosen to honour with their approval. Sadly, I was unable to read the label with bins and don't have any pictures to trawl the Internet with in comparison. HOWEVER, they will be there another day.

So I crossed the bridge and decided to bird the far side of the lake, which turned out to be a pretty good choice as it turned up my best ever view of some Little Grebe (which usually disappear with a 'plop' whenever I round the corner), and 2 Great Crested Grebe (the first of the year for me). They were at opposite ends of the lake, so no sign of weed waving as yet, but I got excellent views of both necking small silver fish. Enter lack-of-camera regret no. 2.

Harrow Lodge park was topped off when a SINENSIS CORMORANT of all things arrived on the lake just as I was walking away. Now being a Tower Bridge birder I know a Sinensis Cormorant when I see one, and I was rather shocked to see one in Harrow Lodge park, so that was really the site-tick icing on the cake.

And so I moved onto Dagenham chase. Didn't get much time to do the chase really - it's huge - so I stuck next to the river for the most part. Saw my first butterflies of the year, and spent most of the walk trying to work out how to tell Robin song from Blackbird song as both were prevalent.

Almost walked onto a Mistle Thrush on the way in - it had a very pale brown back, but the chest markings were fairly unmistakable, and the pale ring around the eye was very much present. It started hopping away when I walked in, but once I'd spotted it and settled down it quite happily got on with munching its worm and I got some very nice views :-) Nothing much else on the chase end of the river, so I crossed the road to the riverside walk and, not 10 metres in, saw a large brown thing with blue feathers streak past. "Jay!". Also saw some LBJs - One of which I'm certain was a Wren from its behaviour (skipping between twigs at ground level) and its call, but the others just went towards highlighting my current limitations as a birdwatcher. They are on the record as 'interesting but unidentified' for the moment. Birding wouldn't be fun if it was all easy.

Noticeable by their absence were the many Kingfishers that populate the river, but I'll get the buggers some day, just wait and see...

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