29th March 2011
Brickfields LNR
Well if one Swallow does make a Summer....Then Summer is  here (not) for today I saw my first Swallow of the year flying over Brickfields and while walking just past the pond, a Chiffchaff, yeah great, I thought they would be there this week ! Two more for the list.

I have taken some new
photographs of the Trees that were planted on Thursday 24th by Engayne School and on Saturday 26th by the council, volunteers and the 7th Hornchurch Scouts with their leader Alan Hyde, they did a stirling job!  Most of the pictures I’ve put on the photograph page. I have listed below, the species of Tree which had been planted, where they are and how many. This list was kindly sent to me by Benjamin Sanderson who is a Regeneration Officer with the Environmental Programmes Regeneration Team at London Borough of Havering.

Hedgerow Trees :    200 hawthorn, 60 Hazel, 60 Dog rose,  60 Field Maple, 100 blackthorns
                                    6 hornbeam standards, 6 oak standards
The Hedgerow Trees are planted in front of the Car Park and to the left hand side. They are also along the left hand side of the recreation field as a boundary from the houses.

Planting Blocks         40 hawthorn, 25 guelder rose, 40 hazel , 25 oak, 25 crab apple, 25 dogwood, 25 spindle,
                          25 field maple, 25 wild pear, 25 wild cherry, 4 field maple standards, 4 oak standards,
4 hornbeam standards.
The Planting Blocks 
(there are four)  Can be seen in the recreation field, it will eventually form a small wooded area. 
                                                  784 Trees planted , Wow! Well done everybody who helped. How are your backs?

Below the New Trees in the Planting Block
                                                       ( Look at the background this is how they might mature)
27th March 2011
Brickfields LNR - Didn’t  forget about the clocks going forward. Good job really as I went to Church this Sunday morning as normal ( St. Andrews, Hornchurch ) well you have to thank somebody  for the Wildlife and the Birds!  It would be terrible to arrive an hour late, you know go in for the service just as it is finishing and people are leaving...Oh sorry God, sorry Vicar.
After I had arrived home, had a look around Brickfields to make sure the trees were still there, they had not grown at all.  My old Mum was right...No patience! There are now two Moorhen’s on the pond, looking for a nesting site I hope. Plenty of bird activity, the Sparrowhawk was about high above Frank’s Wood. No sign, seen or heard, of any Chiffchaffs, should be here this week. Plenty have been reported locally and I saw a couple yesterday. Didn’t stay too long as I have a thing called a 'backache'..... but the Tree planting was worth it.  Hope to be around over there again soon.
Bye for now

26th March 2011
Brickfields LNR  - Helped out planting some new trees, I started about mid- day and finished about 4:00pm ( just in time for the second half of the England match! ). The planting started at 9:00am. I started at 12:00 as I went out on a  pre-arranged Bird walk near Collier Row ( see sightings below ). Well we must have planted about 200 trees, not big trees but little saplings of Blackthorn and Hawthorn, I know there were other types , however when it comes to Trees, my ignorance shows. On Thursday past, children from Engayne primary  school in Cranham started the process and made a great  job of planting with the assistance of Havering Council Wildlife and Conservation  Services. Perhaps if I had that opportunity when I was at Primary school  I would not be so ignorant of trees, but
 I ‘ve got to catch up now at my age, poor old boy!

I’ll take some pictures this week and add them to this website. That Blackbird was around on Saturday as well, but didn’t have a camera with me again ! Oh pooh ! You watch when I have the camara with me to photogragh the tree planting work, that Blackbird will be too far away to snap! 
Oh must not forget the clocks go forward.
Bye for now

Five Oaks Lane, Collier Row - 8:00 -  10:00  Up nice an early for a trip out with the London Birdwatching, Redbridge Group. A very good morning to this shrubland venue. Guided tour by the group leader Daniel.
Birding sightings : Red Kite (being mobbed by a Carrion Crow), male Sparrowhawk, Little Owl, 3 Stock Dove, c20 Woodpigeon, 1 Feral Pigeon, Pheasant in nearby field, 4 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Green Woodpecker, 7 singing Chiffchaff, 4 singing Skylark, c10 Meadow Pipit, 3 Blackbird, 5 Redwing, 10 Fieldfare, 7 singing Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 3 Dunnock, 2 Wren, Long Tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Carrion Crows, Jackdaw, Magpies, 11 Yellowhammer including 8 singing males (and 3 female), male Reed Bunting singing . ( List credited to Daniel Erickson - Hull et al

25th March 2011
Brickfields LNR - Well the Pond is doing well, the plants and the reeds, are now growing. The Reeds are now at least 18inches above the water level on the pond. Hopefully this might interest Reed Warblers in the coming weeks.Some of the trees have been left and their branches have been left hanging over the water. I would just love it if a nice pair of Kingfishers used it for a feeding ground!  So many more people are using Brickfields since the paths and pond has been cleaned up. I have spoken to people as I go around, but I am really quiet surprised how much people don’t know about the wildlife around them or some of the species that are living on the reserve. So I am going to use this site more for the beginners then I intended to. However I still hope the more knowledgeable find it useful.   It’s nice to be able to stand on the platform and just look. I was doing that today when another new Bird for the list came out from the edges. It was a Moorhen (see Pict), a very common bird, but because the pond was very overgrown last year, I can’t remember seeing one. A lot of people get mixed up with Coots and Moorhens, so have a look at the pictures below and you can see the difference.
 By for now.

           Believe it or not people still mix them up !    Moorhen  is on the left  &  Coot  is on the right.
23rdMarch 2011
Rainham Marshes
for my birding walk and social events day. Apart from viewing the Birds, it’s good to catch up on other bird topics and what other birdwatchers have seen or heard from the area’s where they live. Believe me there is a Birding grapevine. The grapevine is made up of ‘pagers’ , ‘e mails’ and quite a few birders  now have I-Phones, where they can send and receive e-mail and text messages,  getting and giving information, especially ,  if something different or a rarity has been sighted. So today was one of those ‘Grapevine days’ I’m led to believe that over the weekend, not one, but three Garganey Ducks ( see pics) were sighted, a little bit of excitement as these ducks are normally Summer visitors (April- Sept) and they winter in Africa,  they are strictly migratory birds. These Garganey’s decided, Rainham was the place to be!  So this morning Rainham Marshes was a little bit more busy than normal and I managed to see them. Two males and a female, wonderful!  I don’t think they will stay long, could only be a couple of days. I’m glad to see them, as I was told, last year and previous year’s only double figures are normally seen.  

Brickfields LNR    After the excitement of Rainham Marshes, a quick walk around Brickfields with the Dogs. A few Long tailed Tits seen. Most of the birds are now pairing up and a lot of the work is in finding nesting sites and building the nests. Saw Blackbird, Blue tit, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon and House Sparrow with nesting material being collected and flying with it in their beaks. no Chiffchaff seen or heard yet. A new bird added to the list, a Lesser Black Backed Gull (see Pict) was flying over the site. Not unusual, there are good numbers at Stubbers Lake’s which is less than a mile away.

Don’t forget this Saturday ( 26th ) from 9:00am- Tree planting at Brickfields !
Bye for now

                             1.  Female Garganey          these pictures don't do them justice !           2. Male Garganey

                                                                    3.  Lesser Blacked Back Gull
22nd March 2011
Answer the Butterflies of course!
For many naturalists the sight of a Brimstone butterfly in early spring is a sign that winter has finally ended. On sunny mornings even as early as February, this species emerges from hibernation in search of nectar. The male Brimstone’s bright yellow colour even matches the sun. Well the good news is that over the weekend and in the last few days, sightings have been recorded in some parts of Essex, even locally in a friend’s garden in Ingrave. This morning I joined an R.S.P.B Birdwatching group from South East Essex in Hockley Woods.  It was a cloudy start to the day, however it gradually brightened up, the sun came out and the temperature rose to the heady heights of 17C, phew,nearly took my wax jacket off! I know Birdwatching is my thing, but all British Wildlife is special and Butterflies are no exception. So I was pleased to see my first Butterflies of the year.  A Peacock fluttered by, no not the bird...the Butterfly! A few yards away a Comma was on the fallen leaves in the sun (see picture, I managed to take). The best Butterfly surely, was sighted locally,  a Camberwell Beauty which was sighted and photographed at Rainham Marshes. I believe this is a first for the R.S.P.B Reserve, fantastic!

I saw my first Chiffchaff of the year, this morning. Other Birds sighted Nuthatch, Treecreeeper, Stock Dove, Sparrowhawk, Mistle Thrush, Long tailed Tit, Green Woodpecker, Great spotted Woodpecker, and the usual woodland and town birds.
Now all I want to do is transport some of the Birds and Butterflies over to Brickfields....they will come on their own accord, but it’s me who is impatient!
Bye for now.

                   My first Butterfly of the year , a Comma, common and widespread, but lovely to see in March !

I9th March 2011
Brickfields LNR
Sunny Saturday, oh what a change, lovely sunshine. It does put a new colour in the reserve! You can see the birds more clearly and their colours come out much brighter. I was over there about 8:30am, late really for a birder. Very frosty when I rolled out of bed and looked out of the widow at 7:30am. Strange, very bright sunshine, but totally white with frost, glad I hadn’t planted new plants. The daffodils in my garden looked very sad.

Still dressed for winter, off I went, plenty of birdsong, I’m sure the sun cheers them up as well. The pair of Mallards still on the pond, but no sign of any nest building. Plenty of activity with the Woodpeckers, I saw a pair of Green Woodpeckers flying around almost together, looking for a nice tree to bore into I suspect.  A Great spotted Woodpecker  drumming as well . Blackbird and Great tit with nesting material flying about as well. Also a pair of Dunnocks in and out of some brambles. I’m making a note of where the nest building is taking place and see what happens... nosey birder. Counted six Jays this morning as well, they were making a hell of a racket I thought it was me they were shouting at ( they will normally see you, before you see them and all you’ll see is the back end of them flying away, the best alarm system in the woods!) However they had found a Sparrowhawk in a tree and not being the best of friends, they were mobbing it to chase it out of their space..they succeeded and I had a good view of the hawk.

I have put two new Fatballs out today and put some wild bird seed around a log near the pond. I thought blow the expense!...have the meal on me! It didn’t take long for them to discover the goodies. Blue tits,Great tits and a Greenfinch found them within half an hour. I have not forgotten about the Blackbird didn’t see him yesterday, but saw him again this morning sitting on a roof of a house, but too far away  to photograph ! I’m not a photographer either, more a happy snapper, but I’ll keep trying. Back to the house for a late breakfast and a shower. My  shower  is the only one I hope to see today, sun and a nice blue sky...yeah !

Sightings:  (numbers not counted)  Blue Tit, Great tit, Robin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Carrion Crow, Magpie, House Sparrow, Starling and Blackbird.

 2 Dunnock , 3 Green Woodpecker, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Mallard Duck, 1 Sparrowhawk, 6 Jays.

Bye for now.

16th March 2011
Rainham Marshes
Got up, looked outside, cleaned my glasses, just as I throught it's  misty again ! Off to Rainham Marshes for my Wednesday jolly around the R.S.P.B Reserve and to meet up with my birding mates. We look just like a scene from ' Last of the Summer Wine', Oh that's me in trouble again...sorry Guys !  Well Rainham, looked just like one of it's characters  ' Foggy'.
I won't go through the sightings,but it was not to bad. Mind you, have you ever tried to find a singing Skylark in the sky on a very misty day, I wouldn't bother if I were you, just enjoy the song. Walked along the River wall, usual waders, Redshank, Dunlin, Oystercatchers and Curlew.  Also an added extra a rather large Grey Seal !  this is not the first seal at Rainham, they are getting more regular with Grey and Commom seal being seen. After a chat and a nice cup of tea, returned home.
In the afternoon another little walk over Brickfields. A Grey Heron was inspecting the pond,but flew off when I got near. No doubt he will be back. But someone please tell him the Great crested Newts, which have been seen in the pond are a protected species and they are not to be he's snack. Talking about snacks, the new Fat ball I put up only yesterday is all gone, eaten, just the nylon bag left again. I have not replaced it.  I'll be skint at this rate!  Might take out a loan though. What I would like to do is have a couple of feeding stations around, not Bird Tables, somebody might think they are too good to resist and put them on E - bay.  Just a log with a wooden top on it, would do, so as to put some mix bird seed on, then people can watch the birds at closer quarters without binoculars. Plenty of Chaffinches,Blue tits and Great tits activity about, pairing up ready for breeding.
I counted at least six pairs of Chaffinches at different locations, Well the mist never cleared much, it reminded me of  when I was young, getting on the number 23 bus and going upstairs to be met by a thick fog of tobacco smoke. I knew one of my mates was up there, but had to shout his name to find out where he was sitting. Yes I am of that age !
Bye for now.
15th March 2011
Brickfields LNR.
Over Brickfields this afternoon for a quick walk around, seems to be more Collared Doves then normal, I counted a dozen.
Funny old day, weatherwise, misty and dank, 8C with a Easterly wind at 10mph. In Southampton at Lunchtime, according to the 1:00pm news  it was 16C, their warmest day of the year and in Scotland it was snowing !
Some of the Summer migrants have arrived a Wheatear, Chiffchaff and Little Ringed Plover have already been recorded at Rainham. Chances of seeing a Chiffchaff at Brickfields are good, possibly not just yet though. Saw two last year over there, near the Pond area.
One thing I did today is put up a new Fat ball, The one I  put up a few days ago has been eaten up, not a bit left, just the little Green nylon sack it came in !    I'm going to photograph the culprits and send them the bill !  Also if I get the chance, is to photograph a Blackbird that's around Sunnycroft Gardens and the Brickfields car park area. I won't tell you about it, wait and see, but it is different.  Now I've started this mystery, I hope it does not take weeks to photograph.  All I can say is I saw it again today , but did not have a camara with me !
Bye for now
14th March 2011
Coming soon to Brickfields.....
 As you might be aware, a lot of changes have taken place over Brickfields, for a start, despite some terrible wet weather, hardened pathways have been put down. You can see some of work undertaken, click on photographs. I have also put in the photograph section some drawings of Way markers (sign posts), a lectern which will give useful information. The Way makers are going to be wooden carved posts depicting some different types of birds and other creatures which have been seen or recorded at Brickfields. The carvings and the artwork have been commissioned by the council and Alan Harris is to undertake the artwork for the panels and Steve Portchmouth is to produce the Sculptures. I am sure these artists will produce some added beauty to the site. A new leaflet is to be produced as a written guide to what can be seen and where. It will also show the walks and trails you can take. I for one am looking forward to the additions.   A date for your diary - Saturday 26th March, more tree planting, so come along to help or encourge others who can do the work !  Tools are provided.  Help planting the trees will leave a lasting legacy and you can say I did that !
While you are there you can have a look around the reserve. I will be there, however I feel a backache coming on.......

Below the drawings of a Bench with carvings, a post with a Sloworm & Butterfly, another with a Frog & Water Vole, all to be carved....Delightful !