BIRD FAIR 2017

BIRD FAIR 2017 – FRIDAY 18 TO SUNDAY 20 AUGUST 2017, RUTLAND WATER.

Friday

We was camping at bird fair and staying the weekend. When we arrived we were greeted by a lovely couple called John and Janet (they are the people who run the camping area), they showed us to our spot and mum and dad started putting up the tent. When they were finished we went into Bird Fair.

The first stall we visited was the Urban Birder (David Lindo) as Louise Moss from RSPB Rainham Marshes was working with David during this event. Next we went to the moth releasing. We saw a rare Bedstraw Hawkmoth and now I am 33 on my life list of moths that I just started. We then walked around the marquees.

Moths we saw at the releasing in the marquee

In the afternoon we went on a bug hunt with Mike Dilger and caught many insects. After the bug hunt we went to the bird ringing stall and I was allowed to release a Reed Warbler and my brother released a Sedge Warbler. After dinner (sausages from one of the stalls) dad and I went for a walk round the reserve, we saw a Kingfisher, Red-Crested Pochard and a Marsh Harrier.

Photos frim bug hunt

Saturday

Today we went to the BTO bird ringing stall because the BTO was doing a guided walk. I released a Blue Tit before we went. I really like the bird ringing as you do not know what you are going to find and releasing the bird is a bonus.

Ringing Wren

Warbler about to be released

In the woodland we saw a Goldcrest and heard a Treecreeper. After the woodland we went into the Shovler hide and saw a Black Tern! In the next hide (which was the Dunlin hide) an Osprey flew over and a Red Kite was circling in the distance. Later a Yellow Wagtail flew over. I enjoyed walk as I would have not found the Black Tern without the guides help.

After the walk I noticed Andy Swash was signing his moth book so daddy bought me the book and I asked Andy to sign it. Then I noticed that Nick Baker was also signing his new book which he very kindly signed for my brother. Soon it was time for our bug hunt with Roger and Rosie, we managed to find lots of different bugs. Then dad advised us it was time for Mike Dilger’s “How to be a Wildlife Presenter” so we made our way to the main marquee and took our seats. It was very interesting because he told us different keys to being a presenter.

Then we walked to the RSPB Marquee as we heard Bill Oddie was going to be there signing his new book. We bought his new book which he signed. I forgot to ask him to sign my note book where I write all the species down that I see. As there as no-one in line I asked him to sign it and spoke to him as well. I spoke about what we had seen last night and this morning. He was interested and was asking me questions about what I had listed.

After dinner we went for a walk, we managed to find the Black Tern again and watched the sun set. There was hundreds of geese flying about, which also kept us awake at night. We was also using our bat detector and managed to see Pipistrelle bats.

SUNDAY

Today we got up early because we thought we might see something different. Dad was woken up by the geese again at 6am. First we went to the sandpiper hide. The yellow wagtail flew over again. There were some wader’s on the mud which were a ringed plover, dunlin and a redshank. We then went into the woodland. We saw a group of Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits and with them a Treecreeper was climbing a tree. We continued watching them and a spotted flycatcher was hunting behind us and a Goldcrest hiding in the tree. There was also a Robin, Wren, Blackbird and Blackcap all in the same tree. We then went to the Shovler hide to see if the Black Tern was still there and it was further away. After a few minutes TWO Ospreys flew over. We got told that there was a Black Tailed Godwit over in other hide. We went to find it and saw a Curlew as well as the Godwit.

When we went to the fair we went straight to the pond dipping. We caught lots of dragonfly nymph and great diving beetles, also newt tadpoles. After that we went to the pond creature’s talk which was given by Neil Phillips.

Photos from pond dipping

We started to walk around waiting for when Steve Backshaw was signing books. Then got our book signed by Steve. While we was walking about I got a spider book signed by all the authors. After that we went to watch the Beatrix potter play with all the celebrities and that was funny. After the play we went home.

In total I saw 78 different birds over the weekend.

This year Bird Fair was supporting the Rapa Fruit Dove.

Late Night & Moths at Rainham

Today (01/09/17) there was a late night opening and moth trapping at Rainham Marshes. There were lots of gold finches coming into roost. We heard the ping of a bearded tit near the numbers, whilst walking round and had a nice view of a hobby sitting on a post.

At the moth trapping we caught a huge old lady moth, which was hard to catch. The people were amazed how big it was as it was a similar size to a hawk moth. We caught a few thorns (dusky and august), but you can also get canary shoulder but we did not get one this evening.

The most common moths that we caught were brimstone and setaceous hebrew characters. The brimstones were coming in every few minutes and were bright yellow. We had a few moths going on the wire connected to the bulb, one was an interesting orange swift and a few snouts as well. Some of the snouts had their snouts half missing. There was some large and lesser yellow underwings, when they opened their wings you could see the yellow hindwing.

Closer to the end we caught more willow beauties and a plume moth. The plume moth did not look like a moth it looked more like a giant white gnat but more T shaped. There were also lots of pugs which are hard to identify, we did manage to identify one as a slender pug. We also a caught a clay and a light brown apple moth. There is another late night opening with moths next Friday, I wonder what we will find.

Below are some photos from the evening.

The Wigeon Story

In May 2016 there was a photo competition at Canvey Island and my photos were through to the last round.  Mike Dilger from The One Show was the judge, he was also supervising the guided walks.  We decided to go on one of them before the judging of the photos began.

On the walk I pointed out a Skylark and Reed Warbler by recognising their bird song and Mike was impressed.  As we walked along my dad suddenly stopped  because there was an Adder resting under his foot.  He had noticed it just in time before stepping on it.  As we continued on towards the hide Mike warned us to be quiet as there was a Great Tit nest nearby.  In the hide we saw them flying back and forwards from the nest.  After a look around we spotted two Great Crested Grebes dancing and performing to each other.

Finally some ducks flew in and one was a Wigeon.  I thought to tell Mike straight away because it was strange that they were here this time of year.  Wigeon would normally migrate in the summer to places such as Iceland, Scandinavia and Russia.  I told Mike but he did not believe me. “There’s a Wigeon over there”, I kept telling Mike.  “They have migrated“, he replied, finally he looked and realised that actually there was a Wigeon, that made him a bit embarrassed, but it also made him more aware of my knowledge.

When we got back it was time for the judging of the photo competition.  After he looked around at the pictures he announced the winners.

MikeDilger

I managed to get first and second prizes which was amazing and made me very happy.

Turnstone

My winning photo of a Turnstone on Southend Pier

We all had a good day with other events such as bug hunting, pond dipping, we also played some of the games and climbed a rock wall that they had there.

Couple of days later, we were at Minsmere walking round, whilst looking at a Great Spotted Woodpecker nest we bumped into Mike Dilger, Jason Singh and one of the Springwatch producers.  We said hello and Mike retold the Wigeon story to the other people, after chatting to them all the Producer invited us to be in the audience of Springwatch UnSprung (episode 3 2016).

It was great as I managed to stand behind Chris Packham and Mike in the audience and had a really good view of them both.  My mum said I was also very visible on the screen and she had told all my family to watch.  It was interesting seeing different parts of the set and what they were doing and how it all ran behind the scenes.  At the end of the show Mike introduced me to Chris Packham and I had my photo taken with them.

Unsprung

I also met Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games they all signed my little black nature book. Was a great end to a long day at Minsmere.

Close Encounters of the Adder Kind

I saw my first adder at Chafford Hundred Warren Gorge.  We were participating on one of their events; family fishing and was not catching anything.  So we decided to go bug hunting and there were lots of bugs and I found an unusual fly.  When we investigated it later it turned out to be a Scorpion fly.  Trekking deeper into the nettles a long stick moved … an adder, shocking but amazing to see.

At Minsmere on a hot day, you can get adders on the adder trail, sun bathing heating themselves up as they are cold blooded.  One day about noon we went to check the trail.  We were walking down there and someone was searching already.  They found one!  It was coiled up in a bramble bush; the adder was brown to show it was a female.  This is my first adder at Minsmere.

Adder 2

Female Adder at Minsmere

This is another one we saw at Minsmere recently.  We were at the North wall trying to find the Stone Curlew, but the vegetation was too high.  So we went on and was watching and listening for the ping of Bearded Tits.  On our way we saw some movement in the grass and something black started slithering away.  I then realised it was a snake and took some photos, this confirmed it was an adder because at first I thought it was a grass snake.

Adder

Black Adder at Minsmere

My last adder story was at Canvey Island.  We were on a guided walk hosted by Mike Dilger.  On the walk we were all walking on the grass to walk quieter so we could listen easier and not disturb anything.  Whilst I was walking my dad suddenly stopped, SNAKE!   My dad’s foot was above an adder and had noticed it just in time.  This is the closest that we have got to an adder and was one of the highlights of the walk.

Best Bird Watching Experiences (so far)

Here are some of my memorable moments when bird watching. 

We joined the RSPB at Rainham Marshes as a family and have been going to the kid’s bird watching club for many years and made many friends.  This has helped with my knowledge on birds, insects and plants.  One particular day we were on a walk with Howard (who runs the KBC), in spring and heard a distinctive call of a cuckoo. We all examined the area of the call.  Second by second, minute by minute, continuing looking, someone shouted there it is with a hobby and another bird of prey. It moved into view, that’s a sparrow hawk.   So there was a hobby, sparrow hawk and a cuckoo all in the same horse chestnut tree more or less next to each other, which was phenomenal.

Northern Hawker Dragonfly

Here is a photo of a Norfolk Hawker that a hobby may eat.

One weekend we thought to go somewhere new, at Wallasea was there was a guided walk & we decided to go along.  In the car park the guide shouted Marsh Harrier with two Hobbies.  While the Hobbies were soaring around catching insects such as dragonflies the Marsh Harrier flushed up a Hen Harrier.  This was a new bird of prey for me.  The guide had been there a few hours before and there was still three Peregrine Falcons sitting on the ground waiting for a meal.  We was just about to leave the car park when a Sparrow Hawk passed over the meadow grassland.  Finally we left the car park.

There were lots of Brent Geese and also whilst we were looking for waders we saw a Buzzard circling in the distance.  After that we continued to walk down towards where they were collecting soil for the reserve and saw a Kestrel hovering.  Finally we made our way back to the car, it was a spectacular day especially for birds of prey.

Avocet

Picture of an Avocet

The first time I saw a Barn Owl at Rainham Marshes along with other interesting wildlife was at a late night opening.   We were at the Butts hide just in time to see a Temminck’s stint and was fascinated how small it was.  Then we walked towards where the barn owl box was near the woodland.  Approaching there was a kestrel hovering hunting for food, like voles and mice.  Suddenly a peregrine falcon the fastest animal in the world, dropped from a pylon, accelerated, speeding from one side of the reserve to the other disappearing into the distance in seconds.

Barn Owl.JPG

Picture of a Barn Owl that I held

We waited hoping to see the Barn Owl, but it did not appear and due to time we had to continue walking round the reserve.  In the Cordite store area we heard a strange screeching noise and I recognised it as being the owl.  I darted as fast as I could round the corner and ran up a viewing platform.  When reaching the top, the barn owl elegantly landed on a post in front me and my dad.  It then took off and I chased alongside it running towards the centre.  When I walked in I had the biggest beaming smile and my friends knew that I had seen my first Barn Owl.

Peregrine

Picture of a Peregrine that I was lucky to hold at Chafford

Our nearest Essex Wildlife Trust is the Chafford Hundred Gorges.  I like to visit them and have done many of the events that they run.  On one visit whilst walking into Warren Gorge down the zig zag, a brown plumage bittern flew in and landed.  I was so surprised and was jumping with joy.  We continued to walk round and found many slow worms, which my brother loves.  Whilst walking along one of the banks, I heard a splash and saw a Water Rail burst from the bank crossing to the other side.  When we got back to the centre we were so excited telling the staff and writing what we had found on their board.  Later I explained to my nanny and granddad what we had seen informing them that the bittern is a bird that is very difficult to see and how rare it is.

Slow Worm

Slow Worm at Chafford Warren Gorge