Sunday, February 05, 2006

Pendulinus in the Bagus!

Way back in December (or was it November? we forget), the wandering birders ventured down’t south for a rare bird called a “Sociable” Plover (or something like that). The bird however, was about as sociable as fish is to a man with a fishing line and bate (nice analogy eh?) and we failed to see it in the limited time we had.

Anyways, the long and short of it is that not only did we ‘dip’ (that’s what birder’s say when they miss something for those not in the know out their in the blog reading land) on the Unsociable Lover (as we have named it) but we also dipped on Remiz pendulinus (that’s Penduline Tit for those who don’t know Latin bird names... And that’s rare in
Britain for those of you who don’t know about birds in Britain) – flippin’ 5 of them (or more perhaps!) in a flock!

The Plover disappeared never to be seen again but earlier this week the Tits returned, out of the blue (or out of the reed mace you might say). The place this all happened of course, Rainham Marshes, RSPB reserve. Unfortunately the reserve is closed to the public at the moment, whilst preparations to make it into some super site are going on.

Guided walks take place every Wednesday (at 9am sharp- fact fans) and a special walk took place yesterday (Saturday) for birders to get to grips with the Tits (as it were), and around 70 did indeed get to grips with the Tits (in a manor of speaking). Howard Vaughan (from the RS of PB) was kind enough to arrange access and indeed even to alert us to the re-emergence of these Tits during the week, for today.

So, setting off around 6.30am (or half past silly-a-clock as it should be known) the wandering birders plus my Dad, Ray headed down to Rainham. Dan Williams met us at the gate (whom Howard also granted access, rather kindly) and shortly afterwards (about 8.15am) Howard turned up and let us in.

It wasn’t long before some birders already on the site had jammed into the flock of 4 Penduline Tits and we soon managed to get on at least 2 males and a female. Tan-tastic pop pickers!

The group made their way round to the other side of the reeds were we rewarded with some excellent scope views of at least one pair, actively feeding just over a drain from us. Below are a couple of record shots (first of a male then of a female) I got (heavily cropped!).

Penduline Tits, Rainham Marshes RSPB, London.
© William Bowell

As well as these superb birds, we also recorded the reserve’s second Cetti’s Warbler and an absolutely stonking male Black Redstart which was very confiding at times and definitely the best plumaged bird the wandering birders have seen in the UK- no diggidy, no doubt!

Next was Southend-on-Sea where we quickly located the adult Ring-billed Gull which has been frequenting this shoreline for many a winter, but equally quickly lost it. We had around 8+ adult Med Gulls and one 2nd winter as well as the usual Turnstones trying to gorge our eyes out.

Our last stop of the day was Grafham. We were gonna stop at Needingworth for American Wigeon, but no positive and only negative reports led us to not bothered. It was there however; if only it had been reported!

We bagged the Red-throated Diver but little else.

A class day though worthy a blog mention!

Posted by Will