Day one and a self found tick! At the Bailey Tract, Sanibel Island, we went for a short walk (45 mins), it was pretty quiet so I decided to check some areas off the path and hey presto, Northern Waterthrush! Yes!
Red Bellied Woodpecker - 10 yards from our front door
I should have been packing for my hols but instead sneaked off back to Ferry Lane. I am lovin' it there at the moment. It was the highest tide I have ever seen there. There were no rocks clear of the water and the birds either perched on flotsam or conveniently on the sea wall.
Two female and a one male Black Redstarts remain as well as Grey Wagtail and Common Sandpiper, plus dozens of Teal, a small number of Gadwall, 2 Pied Wagtails, one Great Crested Grebe, dozens of Mallards and a million Black Headed Gulls.
Another hour on the banks of the River Thames at Ferry Lane, Rainham, this norming provided yet more great views of both male and female Black Redstarts, although this time only one female appeared to be present. As well as the Redstarts a Grey Wagtail and Wheatear were present. It was still freezing cold!
Shaun and I headed around the M25 this morning to see the large flock of Hawfinches that have been seen recently around Box Hill, Surrey. We counted 34 birds but unfortunately they stayed quite distant the whole time we were there. It was still the largest flock of Hawfinch either of us had seen. We headed home and stopped at Ferry Lane, Rainham, hoping for Black Redstart, and we were not disappointed.
The first birds of note were a pair of Common Scoter on the Thames, good birds for Rainham, but they were soon chased off by a Herring Gull. Next, was a Water Pipit, good but brief views were had but I couldn't get any shots before it flew up the shore but despite a good search we could not re locate it.
Late Sunday afternoon I popped over to the silts at the west end of Rainham Marshes RSPB with my non birding mate John Rozee. John was keen to see an owl (as he has never seen one before) so when I said there was a good chance seeing Short Eared Owl and maybe even Barn Owl at Rainham, he was raring to join me.
We stopped off at Ferry Lane and caught up with one of the Black Redstarts, although it stayed at roof top height, so no pics I'm afraid.
On the silts as the sun began to go down. It was a glorious evening as we made our way east and got into where we thought would be a good area to view from. The 1st bird of note, in the sunset, was a female Marsh Harrier, and then another. A good 30 minutes had passed, when just 30-40 yards in front of us, a Short Eared Owl appeared from the long grass. We watched it fly over the grassland, quartering, looking for prey for 5-10 minutes when it was joined by another. Pointing the 2nd owl out to John, a Barn Owl appeared too; 3 owls all out hunting in no more than 100 square yards, in front of us.
Unfortunately, the light has began to drop significantly by now, hence the poor picture quality. A cracking hour and a half's birding though!
My name is Monkey, obviously that is not my real name, my parents were not that cruel. It comes from the 1980s band The Blow Monkeys and has shortened to Monkey. Anyway, it could be worse as well as a dodgy surname my parents could have really stitched me up with a girly middle name....how could I forget, they did. Lindsay! Thanks.