26th April 2011 - Brickfields LNR
A bit of a clean up this afternoon – Cleared a few branches, logs and plastic bottles and bags from out of the Pond. A couple of hours well spent, it looks better and I managed to have a chat with a few nice people. Most of the people I get to chat with are dog walkers, the responsible ones, the ones who carry the pooh bags and clear up after their dog. These owners seem to have a strong affection for Brickfields and use the place every day, not just for their dogs, but to get out and get some fresh air. One lady said,’’ It is nice to have the countryside on your doorstep’’ could not agree more!

 It ‘s amazing how these big branches and logs get in the water, it must take some effort  to throw them in, perhaps that’s why there are always these plastic energy drink bottles lying around, it hard work being anti –social you know.

The birds were in fine voice, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Wren and a few Blackbirds as well.
It was also nice to see several Large Red Damselflies flying around the pond, these are normally the first ones to be seen in the spring and the recent warm weather has brought them out. I did not remove all the branches with nice twigs on from the water because Dragonflies, Hawkers and the Damselflies need somewhere to settle on. The branches were in the middle of the pond anyway and out of my reach. Went home for a nice cup of tea, I don’t drink energy drinks, rot your teeth!
 I remember when, only ill people bought these drinks from the chemist shop, you now the one's I mean.
Bye for now
Large Red Damselfly

Found throughout the UK.

Months seen: May to September.

Habitat: Seen close to ponds, streams and rivers.

Food: Insects.

        Special features: This is one of our commonest damselflies, and often one of the earliest to be seen in each year.

23rd April 2011 - Brickfields LNR
Walked around the Reserve this morning to see if the trees are o.k. Their doing well after Wednesday’s mulch and water. Very few have not taken, the Wild Pear have not done very well, having lost about half a dozen. The grass has been cut short around the block tree planting area and this makes it easier to walk around and see the identification labels. Some have names on them put on by children who planted them. Well done to them.

Plenty of bird song, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Wren and Whitethroat singing. Saw two Whitethroats and heard more, so another new bird to the list.

Plenty of Butterflies as well,  Orange –Tip, Small Whites and Speckled Woods.

After about six weeks without any substantial rain fall, the pond water level has dropped, have a look at the photograph taken in rain on the 26/2/11 to see how far it has dropped. I know the warm dry weather is great, but we need some rain!
Bye for now.
Orange -Tip Butterfly ;
: A wide range of damp grassy habitats is used, including meadows, grassy areas in woodland, road verges and waterside habitats such as ditches  and Cuckooflower ( Lady's Smock) is the usual foodplant. Great for Brickfields then !
DIscription:Generally white with a bright orange wingtip, the male of this species is easily recognised. The female has dusky grey wingtips, by comparison. They both have dark spots to the mid fore of the upper wing and moss green mottled patterning against a white background on the underwing.

Common Whitethroat
The whitethroat is a medium-sized warbler, about the size of a great tit. It has quite a long tail which it flicks and cocks as it darts rapidly in and out of cover. The male has a grey head, a white throat and a brown back, and is buff underneath. It is a summer visitor and passage migrant. It winters in Africa, south of the Sahara. Found over most of the UK. from mid-April to early October. They eat mainly Insects, and berries.They like shrubland,overgrown bramble and woods with plenty of cover. 

21st April 2011 - A little trip out this morning for a couple of hours over to Fairlop Waters in the Redbridge area.
My first sightings of Yellow Wagtails (4) and House Martins ( 8) for this year. Some Birds  now have their young. See picture below ( click on to enlarge ) of the Greylag Geese with their Goslings. I also took a photo of a Speckled Wood Butterfly.
I'll have another check over Brickfields tomorrow for Whitethroats,they should be there !  you'll probably hear them before you see them, noisy bird.
Bye for now
20th April 2011 - Over Brickfields this morning for a couple of hours, undertaking some practical work, putting more mulching down and  around the newly planted Trees. I was helping out the council's environmential wildlife team led by  Benjamin  Sanderson. Cranham Cllr. Gillian Ford ( Ratepayers Association) was helping as a volunteer as well. I don't think my feedback at the local Ratepayers meeting prompted her to do it as I  know she has been involved over there before it was designated a Nature Reserve. Good on yer Gillian !
We had finished about 1:00pm and had a look around the reserve....It's looking good, plenty of bird song and another bird for the list a Blackcap. Plants are flowering see picture below of the Lady's Smock. But due to the very warm weather,everything is awake now and that included a rather large Grass snake swimming in the Pond.
Up to date now, phew ! see you soon.
Lady's Smock or Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis) is a flowering plant It is a food plant for the orange tip butterfly and makes a valuable addition to any garden which aims at attracting wildlife. In some European countries, including parts of Germany, the plant is now under threat. Often grows close to water and grows best in marshy soil. Ideal for Brickfields.

Grass snake - This is our biggest snake which can grow well over a metre in length.  Typically this snake is grey-green in color with a distinct yellow and black collar round the neck, black bars down the side and sometimes two rows of black marks down the back. The Grass Snake is often associated with water; it swims well and feeds mainly on amphibians and fish. It is a sun loving animal and is most often encountered basking in the sun.

 Blackcap (male).
 A distinctive greyish warbler, the male has a black cap, and the female a chestnut one. Its delightful fluting song has earned it the name 'northern nightingale'. Although primarily a summer visitor birds from Germany and north-east Europe are increasingly spending the winter in the UK.
To see them look in woodland, parks and gardens with plenty of trees and shrubs. In winter they will readily come into gardens.
 Breeding birds arrive in April and May, leaving in September and October. Some European birds winter in the UK, largely in England.
 They eat Insects and berries.

14th April 2011 - Attended the local Cranham Ratepayers Association ward meeting as I was asked to give some feedback about the Brickfields Reserve. This I did with some positive returns. I'm not into politics, but they seem to be more about what effects local people and more about  community based issues. Well done to them !

15th/16th April 2011 -
Yes it all happened late on Friday night, a mad dash to Collier Row to collect my son and d.i.l and straight to Whipps Cross Maternity Unit, where at 1.41am on Saturday morning Harry was born ! Mother and baby doing fine, Grandad relieved. Well where was I expected to get hot water and towels from?  Son and d.i.l remained  calm and only a oooooh from mum to be every couple of minutes. I sounded like Corpral Jones from 'Dad's Army'  Don't panic, don't panic, we're not Dad, you are they said!
 I wanted to call him after a bird. Robin I thought was a good name, Peregrine ? a bit to posh, then they said '' How about we name him after you.....Great Tit''  That's gratitute for you !   So Harry it is and in all that was happening I never saw the Stork !

16th April 2011 - At 11:50am a Common Buzzard was  flying over and made a couple of circles over Brickfields before flying off eastwards. Another bird to add to the list.


10th April 2001 - Hornchurch
 Went along to the Queens Theatre in Hornchurch on Sunday night with my wife to see Chris Packham the B.B.C Wildlife presenter of 'Springwatch' and a few other Wildlife programmes. He is touring the country at the moment with a show called 'A Wildlife Exposed'. He is a great presenter combining humour, facts and the serious side of Conservation. One of his gifts is wildlife photography and most of the show was a presentation of his photo shoots, both at home in his garden and from around Africa. The photos were absolutely stunning; I could not do them justice in words!  From Snow Leopards to Elephants to British Wildlife, Otters and Birds....Wonderful!. He's passion is easy to see and his enthusiasm is very catching. He finished with a plea to parents and grandparents to encourage their children to explore the world around them, let them get dirty, let them climb trees, let them  keep animals as pets, snakes, lizards and other creepy crawlies. This is the real world, not the world of computer games ! He also gave away some good books to youngsters in the foyer. A very good night and if you get the chance to see him ....go !

Friday 8th April 2011 - I’m sounding like a Twitcher. Busy week chasing around trying to see the new arrivals and neglecting my patch, well I have been over Brickfields, but only briefly. Apart from the several chiffchaffs that are now there, I have not seen or heard anything different, but it’s not to say the new arrivals have not landed. With the changes in the weather pattern, spring has surely sprung with a large boing!  Butterflies, Bumble Bees and Frogs (Marsh Frog) are out and about. I’m not surprised, its been just a tad over 70F in the last two days (Wed & Thursday).  Big decision to be made over the weekend, I feel, should I leave my vest off and get my shorts out, second thoughts, we might get a late frost !
 Looking forward to seeing Chris Packham at the Queens Theatre,Hornchurch on Sunday.
I also think next week is going to be hectic as well; a new arrival and an addition to the family is imminent!
So here are some reports and pictures of my trips out..... See you soon.

Thursday 7th – Redbridge Birdwatching Guided Walk – Five Oaks Lane, Redbridge
Highlights  and how is this for a choir, at least six  singing male Yellowhammers, 2 singing Skylarks,  5 singing Willow Warblers, 3 Singing Song Thrushes, sounds like the’ Twelve Days of Christmas’ but without  the  Turtle Doves, Oh and no Partridge in a pear tree, but we heard three Pheasants in a field !
Other Birds sighted ; Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Pied Wagtail, Blackcap and Chiffchaff.
A Little Owl was seen and sat well for us to watch for a good fifteen minutes and just to fool everyone who thought Winter was over two Redwing were seen, they are very late in the departure lounge, but coming the other  way in arrivals a Swallow flew over.

Wednesday 6th
Rainham Marshes: There were 17 reported Wheatears on the RSPB reserve and along the waterfront, however managed to see four of them feeding around the cattle. A good place to scan, as Wheatears love and eat insects, so when the cattle are grazing, insects get kicked up, the Wheatears pounce and say thanks very much, bon appetite!  Yellow Wagtails do the same and they will be arriving very soon as well! The Marsh Frogs  have come out in the warm weather as well, looking for a suitable mate. Their croaking can be heard and it seems when one starts they all join in. So that’s were Paul McCartney got the Frog song from!

Below  -   Yellowhammer  &  Little Owl  at Five Oaks Lane, photo’s credited to Peter Warne 
               Marsh Frog  &  Wheatear  at  Rainham  Marshes.
3rd April 2011
Brickfields LNR
Over Brickfields about 12 noon on the swings and slide,not me, but my little Granddaughter. She is now at the toddler stage,into everything. So while my wife is cooking the Sunday roast, yes I know its Mothers Day, but  she likes the kitchen to herself !  It was my job to keep Isabelle occupied and wear her out for my son  & daughter-in -law who were coming to dinner later on. No excuse for me not to go over Brickfields, so off we went, me pushing the buggy and trying to view the birds. Even though the new hardened pathway makes life much easier to push buggy's, its nigh on impossible trying to focus on birds with a pair of binoculars, while pushing a buggy. Why not stop? because every time I stopped she cried and the birds flew away.
Anyway more spring arrivals, heared about four Chiffchaffs and saw two. So going from none at the beginning of last week to six or more today, not bad. I will probably be over there a couple of more times during the coming week to see if anymore Warblers arrive like, Reed & Sedge Warblers, they have already be seen over Rainham and the Hornchurch Country Park. Swallows,Sand Martins have been seen in numbers with a few House Martins being sighted too.
Lovely Sunday Dinner, Grandad fell asleep, Granddaughter wide awake, Nanny won the bet !
Daffy Duck has flown away,sorry about that !
Bye for now.


1st April 2011
Brickfields LNR : They said  hurry over Brickfields there's a Big Black Duck at the end of the pond, great for photographing, as it is a great big poser, showing well. Got there double quick time, got two pictures ( view them in Photographs).

Two Chiffchaffs seen today and another new Bird for the list...A male Pheasant, seen and heard in the field leading to Franks Wood. To much excitement for today !
Bye for now.