Autumn 2016 has quite possibly been the most astonishing season for forty years in the extent and variety of eastern vagrant birds reaching our shores since the last few days in September. Being an inland site (albeit by the Thames) means that we struggle to draw in such coastal delights but we have still been looking in the hope of digging out a Yellow-browed Warbler, rare shrike or one of these new fangled funny stripy yellow Dunnocks that seem all the rage at the moment.
One species well and truly on the radar was Dusky Warbler and we have even been talking up the most likely spots for one of these far eastern Chiffchaff relatives to turn up in. The entrance, road, river wall bushes, Serin Mound and long Sloe hedge by the Concrete Barges have all been discussed and checked most days and not completely unsurprisingly Shaun Harvey struck Patch Gold yesterday evening when the persistant loud 'tooking' of this skulky little rich brown warbler drew his attention as he walked alongside the aforementioned hedge. It showed on and off for the last hour of light but there was only just enough time for a couple of the locals to get there but David Darrell-Lambert did manage to get a sound recording of it before it went to roost.
I was on site in the thick fog first thing this morning but thankfully we only needed to be able to see the hedge and the bird was immediately heard 'tooking' away before popping up and showing itself very well to the huge crowd of three people!
I stayed for a while and had a few more good views before home and a second breakfast called... I believe that it showed on and off all day and ranged the whole length of the hedge. I hope that it is still there tomorrow! This is only the second for the London recording area and I think only the seventh for Essex as well as obviously being a new species for the site too!
Dusky Warbler - Ricky Blackman
... and a few more people later on but about 500m further along the path! - Ricky Blackman
Well two days on and one of our Cattle Egrets is still around although it was not playing ball today and only showed to a few of us at about 10am before disappearing for the rest of the day. Hopefully it will reappear tomorrow.
A shot from yesterday of one with a Field Vole - Dominic Mitchell
Bearded Tit showed well on and off to some and not others with at least ten birds milling around and Cetti's Warblers were especially showy today too. It was so calm and quiet that you have heard a ping drop... sorry....
The evening sky was marginally more impressive than the gloom that we had all day and the atmosphere suited the mighty Ravens to a tee and Russ Sherriff was treated to a fine performance as they squabbled over a pice of French stick!
And and just a quick plug before I go for our Talk On The Wildside this coming Friday evening.... please come along and support Paul and us!
Waiting About a Lot! Tales of wildlife film making by Paul Samuels
Find out all about Paul's experiences making wildlife films (there's a lot of waiting involved!) You'll discover the magic of film making, similarities and differences between stills photography and video, what you need to start film making and how to make the best of it, and all about the process of documentary film making and editing.
With a mix of anecdotal as well as technical features, and chance to ask lots of questions as you go along, this will be an entertaining and interesting talk!
7 pm for 7.30 pm start. Finish c9.30pm There will be interval and the opportunity to ask questions. Please call 01708 899851 to book your seat. Friday 28 October: Price: £6 adults (£5 for RSPB members)
Yesterday the marsh became a bit of an egret hotspot... I was happily at home on my day off, tinkering in the garden when I began to get messages that started off with ' Cattle Egret just dropped onto Aveley Pool' through 'There are now TWO Cattle Egrets on Wennington!' and then 'THREE Great White Egrets have just flown down river...' and with several Little Egrets around too, we had ourselves three Egret day!
I continued with my little jobs, had lunch with my parents who had come to visit and then cracked and leapt in the car and headed north of the Thames on a mini Twitch!
The traffic was kind to me but the birds were not and it took a slightly nervous hour to finally locate one of the Cattle Egrets as it stalked through the grass out on Aveley with that chunky head and short orange dagger of a bill.
Cattle Egret - Max Hellicar
And these three by Karl Price
They always seem such an intense bird, serious looking and concentrating on stabbing at the next morsel in front of them.
Happy with my views I headed back to the centre for a cuppa and a bit of shortbread before making my way home, again with bizarrely no hold ups!
One of the Cattle Egrets is still here today ranging between the cows on Wennington Marsh and loafing around Aveley Pool. It looks like the former is best in the mornings as the bird was seen arriving from the west before 9am and looked like it may have come from as far up river as Crossness.
Good luck tomorrow and a great find by Jonathan Wasse.. thank you!