Saturday, 23 September 2017


Late September and it should now be getting to the business end of the season, and with Black-billed Cuckoo and Siberian Thrush turning up in the week (neither of which I hadn't seen thankfully), my hopes were high for a weekend of bush whacking. But when Friday came, things looked flat so that was that for today. A day in London...

But it wasn't all bad. A visit to Hornchurch Country Park provided me with probably the best views of a Spotted Crake I have had this century. I grew up seeing a good number of these lads when I was a regular visitor to the reserve formerly known as Inner Marsh Farm, but since living the dream here in London unsurprisingly the urban habitat hasn't been suitable for such regular encounters. I really enjoyed this bird, and the place had a nice vibe to it too.
juvenile Spotted Crake Hornchurch CP, London/Essex 23rd September 2017
 Thirty minutes later, after savouring the delights of a Hornchurch Tesco, it was off to the Roding Valley. A small lake just outside Buckhurst Hill provided a pretty strange setting for a stripy headed juvenile Red-necked Grebe. I can't remember where the last juvenile I saw that looked as fresh as this was, but it is a plumage I'm not completely sure I've ever seen before. And rather predictably, the bird showed nicely too.
juvenile Red-necked Grebe Roding Valley, London/Essex 23rd September 2017
Two great birds within metropolitan Essex, inside the M25 and both only half an hour or so from home. I couldn't not get my gull fix though, and so before the two star birds of the day, Rotherhithe produced a regular 3rd calendar year and there were two 1st-winter Yellow-legged Gulls loving the loaves at Thames Barrier Park.
3rd-winter Yellow-legged Gull Rotherhithe, London 23rd September 2017

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