Decided to see what I could drum up locally today, since driving to Rainham would have wasted valuable daylight hours and I hadn't been out around Harrow Lodge for a while. Also took the good digital camera on the assumption that the park would be too cold for the usual yobs hanging round the main lake. I was hoping my luck would still be in following the intervention of the Birding gods at Tower Bridge (turned out I was right; 2 patch ticks - score!).
First up was a regular for the patch, but always a pleasure. Grey Wagtails frequent the river that runs down the left hand side of the main field, but I've never managed to get a picture in the past, so having one posing about 8 feet away was too good an opportunity to miss:
Walking a bit further down added some Grey Squirrels, a couple of Robins, a noisy flock of Long Tailed Tits (maybe a dozen that I saw) with at least one Blue and one Great in amongst the crowd and a suspected Wren, which disappeared almost the instant I laid eyes on it. Since this is typical Wren behaviour I'm happy to keep it on record as a 'probable', if not a definite. A little further round the river, as I turned a bend I picked up patch tick no. 1 - a streak of electric blue flying away from me a high speed. Only saw it for a second but it didn't matter, it could only be a Kingfisher. Sent an excited text to Parus, who has done the circuit with me before and has long predicted that Kingfisher would turn up on that river, and kept walking only to see the same streak heading back towards me about a minute later. Fumbled with the camera and managed to capture the following stunning photographs as it disappeared from sight round the bend behind me.
Just the usual wildfowl on the main lake along with some Black Headed gulls, though it gave me a chance to play with some close-ups of Swans and Cygnets and to see what I could make of the half dozen gulls sitting in a neat row on the railing over the bridge.
Rounding the far end of the lake I sent up a few gulls sitting on the grass and picked up some large windows on the wingtips of one of them. Wasn't big enough for a Herring so patch tick no. 2, Common Gull it is. There are probably loads over there, but I don't get a lot of experience with them so I'm still working on picking them out of a crowd.
After Harrow Lodge I crossed the road into the chase and took an extended walk round. Saw a finch flock of about a dozen Chaffinches, but couldn't pick anything else out from the brief views I was getting. Looking out over the slack didn't turn up any waders or any unexpected wildfowl (saw a m/f pair of Teal and a few Wigeon), though the Herons were out in force (I counted at least 6). What I mostly did over the chase was run around after a particular Kestrel trying (and failing) to get decent photos. It was about half three by this point and a giant raincloud was looming so light levels were appalling. It wasn't all bad for photography though.
Long lens, narrow aperture, low light. Wasn't anywhere near this dark over there at the time. All I've done it crop it and tidy the levels, the light and colour are identical to the original.
All in all then, and excellent day's birding and a good time playing with the Pentax. Really feel like I'm starting to see improvements in my photography, which is good because it justifies the silly money I paid for my camera. Still got a half formed plan to take it to the Tower during one lunchtime and try it on the tame Starlings. Imagine there'll be plenty of time for that in the week before christmas.