The last few weeks have unfortunately seen very little time spent out in the field as I concentrate on a couple of commissions, some ecology work in the West country and a mound of computer work. However there have been a few interesting days of note. On the 14th Feb spring had sprung as we noted one of our garden Blackbirds (we ringed her in 2009) collecting nest material, quite a good early record! Here is a dodgy shot of her taken through the kitchen window. Unfortunately she is not nesting in our garden but was regularly coming in to collect vegetation. Phil later found her nest in Ivy against a wall of a driveway a few doors up from ours (Phil is a top nest finder!). On the 22nd February she had laid her first egg, probably during the night of the 21/22nd and in temperatures around 2 degrees celsius!
I have also been on a couple of 2011 twitches, one successful and the other a fine tip dip. I caught up with the Chipping Norton Oriental Turtle Dove, my first tick of the year, going two days in a row and seeing the bird on both occasions. I'd love to be posting some cracking full framers of this bird but I can't! I didn't get an opportunity at all to photograph it, managing okay binocular views on the first day and poor scope views on the second!
On Monday this week Phil and I casually made our way to Rainham Marshes hoping to jam in on the Slaty-backed Gull but it was not to be. After several hours scouring the HUGE area along the Thames and hundreds of gulls on the river, marsh and tip we realised we had indeed DIPPED. We met fellow Shetland/Manchester birder Jason Atkinson (gripping OTD pics on his blog !) whilst I was photographing some tidal rats (!) and fellow 'birdingblogs' author Martin Garner who kindly pointed out a few different ages of Yellow-legged Gulls present ;-)
A few flighty Water Pipits were also noted.
I love this last photo of the rat, look at his little token grey whisker on each cheek....ahhh.