In between holidays we’ve done a reasonable amount of local birding, but I’m only going to go through the not-necessarily-chronological highlights, rather than spend loads of time trying to remember everything…
It started with a day out at Bramfield before I went to Finland. The highlight was undoubtedly our first Cuckoo sighting of the year, which we heard just as the road left the wooded areas north of Hertford. It took a bit of work but I eventually spotted the bird through the heat haze on a distant tree. The hedgerows brought our first Whitethroats of the year too, and there were the usual Red Kites and Buzzards. We got chatting to a farmer who told us of a good area for Crossbills, but we’ll probably check that out next time we visit instead.
Another sunny day, this time at Staines Moor, brought Redshanks, Kestrels, Meadow Pipits, Common Whitethroats and Skylarks.
An afternoon walk around the close brought us a nice Lesser Black-backed Gull (which I originally thought might’ve been a Yellow-legged Gull until confirmation from Birdforum put me straight). There were also fledgeling Long-tailed Tits, young Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and a brief flypast from a Kingfisher. The wharf our cloe is on is also home to a large family of Canada Geese which we see in our garden most days, and sometimes in the car park too. There’s usually a young Greylag with them as well.
There have been two visits to Rainham Marshes: the first on a cool and breezy day just after I got back from Finland. There were Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers and Reed Warblers, plus a nice Redshank that perched on a fence post and called for some time. The second visit was made in the hope of adding Bearded Tit and Hobby to our yearlists, and we were successful in both counts. It’s been a bumper year for breeding Beardies at Rainham and we saw several young birds amongst the reeds around the Dragonfly Pool. As we waited a Hobby swooped through from the direction of the river wall, but it was just a passing visit. Added bonuses included our first Green Sandpiper of the year, and a nice view of one of the resident Kingfishers.
Speaking of Kingfishers, we also had a good view of them – as we usually do – at Rye Meads. Plenty of Common Terns were also seen, as well as Blackcaps, squabbling Buzzards and a basking male Blackbird.
The reservoirs next door to our close also brought us our first Common Sandpipers of the year, along with more Common Terns. An afternoon wander around the wharf that our close is on also brought a Lesser Black-backed Gull, newly-fledged Long-tailed Tits, a family of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and a Kingfisher.