4 January 2017

Dismembered December

December not really as bad as it could have been and that's almost entirely down to the Yellow-browed Warbler that appeared in the willows on the south west corner of Alex on the 7th and behaved impeccably until the new year, by which time it had inspected every remaining leaf at least twice and then hid itself in the evergreens. Now of course it is a complete bastard, not calling and showing briefly if at all.  It took me near enough 10 hours to see it briefly, moving between the islands, and much questioning of my sanity.

Just the 77 species for the month, but that means we managed an average of just over 82 species per month for the year, which sounds better than it probably was as 5 months failed to reach 80.  Golden Plover, Lapwing, Ringed Plover were noted making it the best month for plovers this year! The Little Owl is still with us and reports of its demise premature, no one could be bothered to stay out late for Tawny Owl or Woodcock which are probably present so the month could have been marginally better.

Duck numbers struggled back after November's freeze, and fell away again when the ponds froze again in December, though 3 Red-crested Pochard were noted on the Hollow Ponds on the 20th, but the cold weather did bring in a few good days of Redwing and Fieldfare.

We do have a wintering Stonechat again by Cat & Dog, which may be last year's bird, but that would require me looking at old posts to check.  It has been joined by Meadow Pipits and a few Reed Bunting–which may not be surprising as it is the quietest part of the patch elsewhere overrun by dogs!  Skylarks haven't sussed this yet, and are increasingly hard to find down by Alex.

Little Egret numbers are building up again on Heronry, though way down on last year, with a high of 7 counted, whereas all the Little Grebe have moved off the lakes on to the Roding.  And that was December, so just about 80 days until the Wheatear get here...


Wanstead Flats: 6 Gadwall, 10 Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft/Peter Brinton)

Wanstead Park: Water Rail, 86 Gadwall, 2 Teal, Wigeon, 13 Wigeon, 14 Tufted Duck, 18 Redwing (Nick Croft/Peter Brinton)


Wanstead Flats: Golden Plover (Tony Brown); Little Owl, Common Buzzard, m Sparrowhawk, 2 Linnet, Meadow Pipit, 7 Shoveler, 5 Teal, 2 Pochard, 6 Tufted Duck, Goldcrest (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Common Snipe (Tony Brown); Firecrest, 12 Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, f Sparrowhawk, 130+ Gadwall, 3 Wigeon, 9 Shoveler, 14 Tufted Duck, 2 Pochard, 7 Redwing (Nick Croft); Water Rail on Heronry Pond (Frank Nugent)


Wanstead Flats: Little Owl, 5 Shoveler, Gadwall, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 65 Gadwall, 3 Wigeon, 5 Teal, 6 Shoveler going east, Pochard, 2 Little Grebe, Kingfisher, Great Black-backed Gull, 12 Mistle Thrush, 30+ Goldfinch, 10+ Goldcrest (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 8 Lapwing (Rob Sheldon), 12 Shoveler, 6 Gadwall, 7 Teal, 3 Pochard, 2 Kestrel, 2 Meadow Pipit, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Redwing, 8  Mistle Thrush, 550+ Common Gull, 150+ Black-headed Gull, 60+ House Sparrow (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler on south side of Alex in willows calling and showing well, 2 Goldcrest, 34 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 7 Linnet, 30+ Goldfinch, 2 Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 3 Pied Wagtail, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 2 Pochard, 3 Tufted Duck, 8 Gadwall, 8 Teal, 13 Shoveler (Nick Croft/Bob Vaugan)

Wanstead Park: 20 Fieldfare, 4 Redwing, singing Song Thrush, singing Mistle Thrush, 12 Goldcrest, Little Egret, Sparrowhawk, 2 Little Grebe, 27 Shoveler, 58 Gadwall, 6 Teal, Pochard, 16 Tufted Duck, 300+ Black-headed Gull (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler again in willows on south side of Alex until about 8:30 when it joined a roving mixed tit flock (Jono Lethbridge/Peter Brinton/Nick Croft) - excellent find Nick (JR); 220+ Redwing, 70+ Fieldfare, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Kestrel, 8 Gadwall, 6 Teal, 9 Shoveler, 16 Tufted Duck, 2 Pochard, Meadow Pipit (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 3 Little Egret, 2 Little Grebe, 92 Gadwall, 39 Shoveler, 3 Wigeon, 13 Teal, 22 Tufted Duck, 2 Pochard, 16 Redwing, singing Mistle Thrush, 10+ Goldcrest (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler on south side of Alexandra Lake in overhanging Willows but mobile and only occasionally calling (Tony Brown)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler still on island at Alexandra Lake, c10.30. 3 Goldcrest, m Blackcap, 63 Fieldfare, singing Mistle Thrush, Reed Bunting, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 12 Gadwall, 16 Teal, 12 Shoveler, 9 Tufted Duck, Great Black-backed Gull (Stuart Fisher/Nick Croft et al) recording here

Wanstead Park: 150 Gadwall, 2 Wigeon, 23 Teal, 28 Shoveler, Pochard, 14 Tufted Duck, 3 Little Egret, Great Crested Grebe, 4 Little Grebe on Roding, 2 Coal Tit, 4 Goldcrest, Sparrowhawk, Redwing (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler still SW corner of Alex in willows but (understandably) elusive, 1w m Stonechat, 25 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing, singing Mistle Thrush, Stock Dove, Goldcrest, 3-5 Linnet, 20+ Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, 12 Gadwall, 21 Shoveler, 13 Teal, 10 Pochard, 17 Tufted Duck, 4 Meadow Pipit, 3 Kestrel (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler still sw corner of Alex, Goldcrest, 24+ Goldfinch, 8 Gadwall, 5 Teal, 7 Shoveler, 2 Pochard, 2 Tufted Duck, singing Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler still favouring the SW corner of Alex, 6 Goldcrest, 15 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing (many more calling overhead as I returned home after dark), singing Song Thrush and 2 singing Mistle Thrush, 2 Reed Bunting, 12 Gadwall, 11 Teal, 10 Shoveler, 5 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, Meadow Pipit, Kestrel (Nick Croft et al)

Wanstead Park: 2 Chiffchaff, 8 Goldcrest, Coal Tit, 2 Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, 5 Little Egret, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, 108 Gadwall, 6 Wigeon, 24 Teal, 42 Shoveler, 15 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 4 Mistle Thrush (one singing), singing Song Thrush, 6 Redwing, Fieldfare, 2 Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler, Goldcrest, 102 Fieldfare, 36 Redwing, Stonechat, 12 Linnet, 10 Meadow Pipit, 18 Tufted Duck, 4 Pochard, 5 Teal, 20 Shoveler, 18 Gadwall, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 7 Little Egret, 28 Gadwall, 2 Teal, 17 Tufted Duck, 4 Pochard, 11+ Song Thrush, 14 Redwing, Fieldfare, 2 Siskin, 30+ Goldfinch, Chiffchaff, 5 Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: RBA report Yellow-browed Warbler still on south side of Alex, Ringed Plover heard over SSSI (other records appear to have been deleted from the London Bird Club page, again!


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler showing well on south side of lake at 0830 (John and Janet Cadera)

Wanstead Park: Water Rail, 8 Gadwall (Bob Vaughan); Treecreeper, 2 Nuthatch, Kingfisher, 6 Little Egret (Tony Brown)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler still s side Alex, 2 Goldcrest, Peregrine Falcon, 2 Kestrel, 50 Fieldfare, 23 Redwing, 2 singing Song Thrush, 3 Linnet, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Meadow Pipit, Skylark, WeBS - 665 Common Gull, 144 Black-headed Gull, 103 Mallard, 22 Shoveler, 7 Teal, 9 Gadwall, 18 Tufted Duck, 7 Pochard, 46 Moorhen, 67 Coot (Nick Croft et al)

Wanstead Park: Basin WeBS - 75 Black-headed Gull, 3 Wigeon, Gadwall, Little Grebe, 2 Little Egret, 18 Redwing (Bush Wood), 25 Fieldfare, 12 Gadwall, Pochard (James Heal/Bob Vaughan/Jono Lethbridge)


Leyton Flats /Hollow and Eagle Ponds:
c15 Redwing, 12 Gadwall, 5 Pochard, 2 Shoveler, 2 Goldcrest, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Greenfinch (Simon Worsfold)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler
still on sw corner of western island on Alex, 2 Goldcrest, 9 Gadwall, 7 Teal, 6 Shoveler, Pochard, Reed Bunting, 2 Kestrel, m Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft/James Palmer/Peter Brinton)

Wanstead Park: 2 Kingfisher, 120 Gadwall, 2 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 32 Shoveler, Pochard, 18 Tufted Duck, 6 Little Egret, Coal Tit, 3 Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, Kestrel, 2 Redwing (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler
still on Alex but took 2 hours to track down, 2 Goldcrest, 8 Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, 6 Skylark 5 east & 1 remaining resident bird, 4 Gadwall, 1 Teal, 18 Shoveler, 6 Pochard, 12 Tufted Duck, 2 Mistle Thrush, 12 Fieldfare, 6 Redwing, Great Black-backed Gull, 500+ Common Gull, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler
at 11.30 on Alex, looking good in the sun. Thanks for the pointers (Jon Agar); 7 Redwing, Fieldfare, Reed Bunting, 8 Gadwall, Teal, 5 Shoveler, Goldcrest (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 105 Gadwall, 34 Shoveler, 7 Teal, 3 Pochard, 14 Tufted Duck, 3 Little Egret, 6 Little Grebe on Roding, Great Crested Grebe, Nuthatch, 8 Goldcrest, 2 Grey Wagtail (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler
still on SW corner of Alex, 8 Redwing, 100+ Jackdaw (Nick Croft); Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Fieldfare (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler
, 8 Meadow Pipit (Tony Brown et al)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler
still sw corner of Alex, 2 Goldcrest, Teal, 6 Gadwall, Shoveler, 8 Fieldfare, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 69 Gadwall, 11 Teal, 4 Shoveler, 3 Pochard, 13 Tufted Duck, 5 Little Egret, Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Grebe, 5 Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, 4 Redwing, Kestrel (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler
, 2 Goldcrest, Stonechat, 8 Meadow Pipit, 6 Skylark, Reed Bunting, Sparrowhawk (James Heal/Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler
thanks Nick. (G. Gram); 8 Reed Bunting, 4 Linnet, 2 Mistle Thrush, 6 Redwing, 2 Goldcrest, 31 Shoveler, 2 Pochard, 13 Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, 2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 1w Great Black-backed Gull (Tony Brown/Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 90 Gadwall, Wigeon, 19 Shoveler, Teal, 13 Tufted Duck, 2 Pochard, 3 Little Grebe, Little Egret, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, 3 Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler
still on Alex showing well when seen, 2 Goldcrest, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 12 Linnet, Reed Bunting, c30 Fieldfare, Redwing, 3 Mistle Thrush, 2 Gadwall, 25 Shoveler, f Teal, 9 Tufted Duck, 8 Pochard, Stonechat (Nick Croft/Paul Davies/Marco Johnson/Tony Brown et al)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler
still sw corner of Alex in willows, Goldcrest, 7 Reed Bunting, 4 Meadow Pipit, Redwing, Fieldfare, Kestrel, 5 Gadwall, 17 Shoveler, 3 Teal, 2 Pochard, 6 Tufted Duck, 50+ House Sparrow (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 35 Gadwall, 7 Shoveler, 3 Teal, 12 Tufted Duck, 2 Pochard, 3 Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, Great Crested Grebe, 6 Redwing (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler
showed late afternoon between the islands on Alex, 7 Teal, 6 Shoveler (Nick Croft et al)

30 December 2016

Out with the old

 Wheatears always a winner. Pic: J Lethbridge

That time of year again.  The time of collective naval gazing and polishing our crystal balls served up with a side order of tosh.

First off what the others thought of 2016

First up Mr Brown

"Best Bird: Great Grey Shrike [Didn't see that one coming!]
Best Event: The flyover White-fronted Geese, whilst watching a Yellow-browed Warbler. This marginally pipped receiving a man-hug from Jono after getting him onto the GG Shrike
Prediction: More Shrikes! A spring Woodchat in the Old Sewage Works would do!"

Tony's prediction: Woodchat Shrike in the Old Sewage Works and not, as here, on the Norfolk coast

Next up Mr Heal, who had a successful second year on patch reaching the nirvana of 100 species for the year:

"Best moment has to be first hearing the YBW when I realised it wasn't someone playing a tape. My prediction is that I will find a Dartford Warbler in the Brooms on 29 October, 2017. That will follow the Red-rumped Swallow I shall also find flying low over the Brooms on Saturday 22 April."

For Mr Rae it's been a quiet year on the birding front, on the nappy changing front, however, that's another matter...

Richard went for the first Yellow-browed Warbler/White-fronted Goose combo [... I see a trend forming here–one where Bob and I aren't present!] as his best event, finally getting a Firecrest (Long Wood), because of what he puts down to the effort involved.  He is predicting an Iceland Gull and will not be drawn into making the same mistake as last year by stating where.

Mr Harris has had many other things on his mind this year primarily successfully co-ordinating the Wanstead Pan-Listing Big Year, which smashed the target set of 1000 to currently stand at 1505 species.  Apparently he wants to achieve 2000 species in 2017.

Tim's best find was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, but after being reminded that the best bird category didn't need to be one of his went with the Corn Ortolan Bunting, which he missed as he was twitching a moth.  He predicts a Richard's Pipit in the Autumn.

  Bob done this

Mr Johnson goes for the original Yellow-browed Warbler as his best bird/event as he was left to find it on his own and predicts a Nightjar which will probably be flushed by a dog walker–well that's OK as long as someone is at hand to appreciate the work of fido

Mr Vaughan had a pretty good year while just shy of his 2015 tally and broke the 150 barrier and joined the illustrious club of two

His best birds were the Dunlin, Hooded Crow and the Ortolan and the best event the Great Grey Shrike [meh!]. He's gone for Pine Bunting [No problems with confusion species there then!]

  Bob done this

Mr Lethbridge did inform me of his choices at the annual drinks, but because I was probably drunk by that stage all I have is a list of drinks. There was some kind of scribble mentioning a Yellow-browed, which I assume was the event of the year because of the supporting cast of ouzels and wild geese rather than purely about gripping off Bob and I.  Best birds for him were the Great Grey Shrike and magnanimously Bob's Hooded Crow, which didn't coincide with a working from home day or illness.  My prediction for him is that he will magically appear when we find something good... His prediction a Black-necked Grebe.

Which just leaves me. 2016, what a year! Not good for celebrities, democracy and the future of the planet but in local patch birding terms another of great surprises. January kicked off with the best possible start and a record count on the 1st, my Great Snipe on the 3rd (the report is currently languishing in the BBRC's inbox awaiting its non-proven status], Bob's Turtle Dove on the 9th (very likely the Rufous Turtle Dove that appeared in Kent not long after, ha!), his Caspian returned by the end of the month and then it went a bit Isabelline.

It was March before something else decent popped up and did the decent thing of hanging around so that James and I could add Hooded Crow to our year lists. No problems for the London Rarities Committee on this one as we got pictures, though I am fully expecting a NP for last year's bird.

Spring was predictable–good, but not so good as last year–it was May that turned up the good stuff.  Long anticipated May's Cetti's was long over due (Mr L's prediction from last year), actually seeing Greenshank instead of hearing them was wonderful, Bob chipped in a brace of Dunlin and a smart male Red Crested Pochard spent the day on Heronry, a Raven by month's end meant that May was this year's April from last year!

 Pic: J Lethbridge

June and July happened and will keep on doing so until we say "No, enough!" and just skip to August, which itself was pretty average bar a Golden Plover and the year's first Tree Pipit and Pied Flycatcher.  While September held no Wryneck it gave us the Ortolan, which is my fourth life tick on the patch (Dartford Warbler I think, Wryneck, Firecrest being the others) and was good for Redstart if nothing else.

 Bob done this

October is fast becoming one of my favourite months, though some of the good stuff was found while Bob and I were languishing in Shetland (and then all the good stuff was found there while Bob and I were languishing here): near enough 1000 Chaffinch going north, a hundred plus Skylark on passage, and a smattering of Brambling. Then the good stuff: Hawfinch(es), Serin (for Stu), Woodlarks, Jack Snipe, culminating in THE BIRD OF THE CENTURY–Tony's great Great Grey Shrike* (I can be magnanimous too!)–and not forgetting a small matter of the Yellow-brows, White-fronted Geese and ouzels.

What will be the cover of the 2016 report, commissioned by James H from one of his pics of the October YBW and illustrated by Richard Allen

November gave us a Merlin and Goosander, while December the small matter of a Yellow-browed grip back that stayed and stayed and stayed... (in your face Lethbridge children!)

My best event: the Ortolan as it took perseverance over the course of the day to actually nail it, and in the end it was quite fun. A close call with my December sprite, which if it can just hang on a couple of more days...

My prediction: Penduline Tit on the Shoulder of Mutton, and in the real world a Marsh Warbler in the Old Sewage Works.


Not quite, there's the little matter of the Wanstead Birding Championship of 2016

A creditable 5th place for James on 102 and a tie for 3rd place with Jono and Tony on 106, which considering Tony was virtually only able to do weekends is very commendable, while Jono is no longer the butt of "he's gone, now lets find some rare stuff", but no doubt is suffering from the lack of air miles he gets coming to the flats–his best find = the end of his street, ha!

That leaves, a now retired, Bob in a clear second on 113. Well done mate!

Ha ha I win again

It matters little

* Predicted by Mr Fisher in last year's almanac