Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Harrow Lodge Park (mostly)

Harrow Lodge Park isn't exactly renowned locally for its abundant bird life, but it has a lake and its 5 minutes walk away so with the evenings getting lighter it makes for a nice hour and a half's stroll with the chance of a couple of Pochard, and the certainty of a whole load of Tufties. Also, it's the quickest route on foot to the Chase, so I do quite a lot of my local birding there by both accident and design. It's the most local of my patches. In fact I quite enjoy it and for the same reason I enjoy the tower: when something unusual does turn up you really appreciate it. Following the drive yesterday, a bit of time away from cars and roads was exactly what I needed.

This post would have been written yesterday, but I fell asleep soon after getting in and eating. So much for the band rehearsal.

It was also a pleasant trip out for my camera, which has been gathering dust lately. It all started with the unmistakably Essex cry of "Oi mate, fotograf this" *drops trousers* Ah, I see the chavs are out.

First up was a Thrush, looks to me like a Mistle. No song from this one, but a couple of hundred yards away I came across another and it sounded like a Blackbird with an imagination, so I'm sticking with my initial impression.

I spent a good 5 minutes chasing this thrush around the entrance, and this is still the best I could get

Then it was on to the main attraction, which in Harrow Lodge Park is its lake. A decent selection of Wildfowl to be found, including a couple of Great Crested Grebes and our now-apparently-resident Black Swan. Far better picture of him this time round.

And just for the lovely Maiden_Lulu (A.K.A 'the missus'), some Mallards, because I know she likes them.

*quack* *quack*

Also by the lake and happily sitting in a tree, singing its heart out was a very photogenic little Robin. This may just be the best Robin picture I've ever managed to take.

If only all birds were so obliging

The star of the show yesterday though was a Little Brown Job, obligingly confirmed by the nice folks at Birdforum as a Chiffchaff. First ever for me at this site, though I don't know of anyone else who birds Harrow Lodge so it might just be me. I reckon its a pretty good record though.

And this one's for Parus:

Evil Passeriformes - a common feature of Essex birding

A wander down the River Rom in Dagenham Chase produced a disappointing lack of anything, but specifically Kingfishers - it seems breaking the seal hasn't lead to the hoped-for flood of them. Still, I'm not greedy. And I got my first Great Spot of the year, trying very hard to hide in the branches at the very top of a very distant tree. Distant enough that based on my initial eyeballing, and before I actually zoomed in on the picture, I thought it was a collared dove. Very conveniently, he managed to leave all his identifying features sticking out, and a few seconds later the sound of drumming filled the air anyway.

Peek-a-boo! I see you...

I'm going to try and head back over this week and see if there are any other interesting little Warblers hidden in the woodland area where I found the Chiffchaff. It would certainly liven the patch up a bit. For now though, I'm still knackered and am off to bed.

Oh go on, have a Blue Tit.


  1. Some really good photos there, well done :)

    Kingfishers still elude me, so you're one better than me on that one.

    Roll on Norfolk for some nice photo oppurtunities

  2. The 'missus' appreciates the mallards... *quack* *quack*
    - they're smiley ducks :-)

    Also impressed with the Robin pic, I agree, best one so far! Caught mid-song too! Clever man.

    And a Chiffchaff! - excitement... I'll have to check up on their appearance and habits and see if I can find one round here...

    And I concur with Spoonbillz - roll on Norfolk! :-)

  3. Small green-brown warbler in a tree? Probably a chiffchaff. The (not necessarily likely) alternatives are willow warbler and wood warbler, the former of which has a nice easy-to-learn song and the latter you won't be finding in harrow lodge any time soon:P Willow is possible though, I picked up 8 in a small area in the Ingrebourne the other day.

    Worth looking at leg colour - dark legs means its most likely (but not certainly) a chiffchaff. More consistant features are the length of the primary feathers compared to the secondary (easier than it sounds), where short winged = chiff, and the face pattern. The eyestripe/supercilium is different between willow and chiff. Apparently chiffs have a "frowny" expression, your photo show this well... but I've see distinctly frowny willows a few times.

    It's a common ID problem, there are LOADS of id pages on these two out there...

    Also, the robin picture is awesome.

    Long comment is long.

  4. The clincher for me was the song, which wasn't very Willow-like at all, but was quite ChiffChaff-like. The general consensus on BF was 'Sings like a Chiffchaff = is a Chiffchaff'. Didn't really get a clear enough photo to go after primaries/secondaries (time to start saving for a super-camera) but if I see him again I'll break out the bins.

    Thanks to others for nice words about the pictures, the light was nicely diffused and it was a good day for photographing anything that wasn't backed by the sky. Got some good silhouettes though.

    Norfolk will be teh 4w350m3 :-)

  5. Parus knows far too much about chiffchaffs for my liking, they're still just LBJs no?