Saturday, 18 July 2009

Fstopped 2, bogey birds 0

Following the defeat of the worthy Kingfisher a couple of months ago, the Med Gull has been added to the lists of the fallen.

Just got back from a long and exhausting day's birding. Started at about twenty to seven, an ungodly hour for a Saturday morning, to pick up this person and catch the high tide (08:17ish) down at Two Tree Island near Leigh-on-Sea. Why did I do this? Right now I'm asking myself the same question, but it may have been something to do with the promise of a sausage sandwich (duly delivered and consumed).

My first visit to Two Tree, which is a huge mudflat near the Thames estuary. Catching it at high tide means, in theory at least, that all the birds that would usually be on the mudflat are sitting on the scrape right in front of the hide. Which, considering we stepped out of the car into winds gusting offshore at about force 7, was pretty much what happened. The scope made the trip with me in place of the camera today, so here are some extremely dodgy pictures taken by holding phone camera in front of scope eyepiece:

Black Tailed Godwits everywhere

Avocets in close proximity and NOT fighting.

Ringed Plover, one of about 3 on the scrape, circled for your viewing convenience.

My estimates are for about 300 Blackwits, 60ish Greenshank, c150 Redshank, c100 avocets, c30 common Terns, 3 Ringed Plover and a solitary Shelduck. Also saw a Linnet and heard a Skylark on the way back to the carpark. May not tally exactly with the esteemed Mr Parus, but as they say, close enough for Jazz.

Since we'd done the hard bit of the A13 getting through the Canvey Island magic roundabout, we headed on down to Southend sea front to see if we could pick up some Med Gull. We must have pulled over 3 or 4 times with no result, but on the very last "if we don't see one this time fuck it let's go to Rainham" stop, we came across a large flock of Black Headeds standing just off the main road. Walked over and bugger me if right there in front of us there wasn't a Med gull standing there in a little space of its own.

That really is the best you're getting from me. Better pictures will likely appear elsewhere.

And just off to the right of the picture was a much better example of Larus Melanocephalus, but since you're taking my word for it that this white blob is even a seagull let alone a Med, I don't suppose it matters.


Really, the rest of the day after this passed in a kind of euphoric blur. We headed back to Rainham via Wat Tyler country park where we picked up ANOTHER Med from the car park (easy! easy!) along with some Oystercatchers and a 'Not Very' Common Gull.

Rainham sucked quite hard, as expected. We got partway round and were rescued by the arrival of Parus' missus, which meant making a bee line for the visitor centre for food and tea. Having seen a big fat nothing in our half hour previous, we all headed over to the carpark round the back of the reserve where excitement was provided by incredibly tame Red Admirals, Millions of Gatekeepers, a very late and very faded Painted Lady and a Hobby giving fantastic views as it perched on a post in the middle of a field before soaring up to hunt.

Did I regret leaving the camera at home? Hell yes, particularly when we saw that first Med Gull not 10 yards away. I'm going to have to figure out a way of taking both camera and scope along. The birding wasn't outstanding, but much better than it would have been closer to home. And I got to see the sea - having spent 3 years at a coastal university before moving back inland I miss the peeg vater.

You, plenty good fellas!

Applications for the position of Fst0pped's new bogey bird will be opening shortly.

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