25 October 2016

Firecrest sake!

In lieu of September's round up, which I am still working on but a bad back means I can't sit down for any length of time–now being totally recumbent that's a doozie, the Bush Wood Firecrest are back and feisty...

21 September 2016

Patch Locations: The Lovely Jubilee Pond

This is one of a series of posts in which readers can explore parts of the wider Wanstead Patch that we often talk about. Today it is the turn of the scenic and sublime Jubilee Pond.

Or should that be slime? Have you ever been to Jubilee Pond? Don’t bother, it’s totally disgusting, an embarrassment. It used to be a boating lake back in the day, but gradually sank into disrepair. It was refurbished a way back when, and then more recently again in 2013, using funds gained from the Olympics – partly from the rental of Fairground Flats to the metropolitan police for their temporary megabase. The renovations were about cleaning it up, making a nice path to go around the edge, planting cover for wildlife, and of course adding some amenities for the local community to enjoy – some bike racks, some picnic benches, and a small pier for pond dipping. You don’t need me to tell you how the local community have “enjoyed” it. Here are a few photos to show what it looks like. I haven’t posted the dead Mute Swan that was floating with its head underwater at the west end for a few days. It’s probably still there, we rang somebody but they couldn’t be bothered.

note the brand of juice please

So, lovely as I am sure you will agree. Basically Jubilee Pond has found permanent favour as a place to sit and drink yourself to oblivion and then chuck shit all over the place. Ideally in the pond. It’s filthy, it smells, and there are rats the size of beavers. The lack of care shown by those that cause it to be in this state is flabbergasting. I have a solution though, and it is to close the local shop. Shut it down.

 Just across the road from Jubilee is the Dames Road Convenience Store. Convenient if you are after something to throw on the floor. It has a staggering selection of alcohol which it sells indiscriminately to anyone who wants it, assuming they are over 18 of course. Customers place their purchases in blue plastic bags and then go home to consume it responsibly hem hem. This is what the shopkeeper will tell you. What actually happens is that the customer crosses the road, drinks the lot, pisses in the bushes and chucks the whole lot in the pond (or vice-versa, or both). The fact that a great many of the plastic bags, bottles, cans and cartons that leave the shop end up on the floor within 100 yards of its front door cannot have escaped the attention of the owner, who probably has to pick his way through the detritus every day. The question of course is whether or not it is his responsibility? Is it his fault that his clients drop litter? No. However should he feel bad that the local area looks like a total shithole primarily because of his business? Yes he bloody well should. Does he? I don’t know, I might ask, but my assumption is that he does not because it is getting worse and worse. Which must also mean he is making more and more money and therefore is pretty happy with how it is going. I would like to see him going round picking up all the litter, and in some cases, his unconscious customers.

No doubt there will be denials. How can I prove it all came from the shop? Well I can’t of course. Circumstantially however it is interesting to note that the same brand of mango juice that I find cartons of all around Jubilee is the same brand he stocks, and that empty booze bottles are stickered up in the same way, but that’s not proof is it? No. But actually I don't care, I don't need proof and it won't make any difference anyway. What I would like you to do is boycott the shop as they're guilty as sin. You know it and I know it. And they know it. Bastards. Or better still, go and pick up the litter and then walk into the shop and dump it there. Literally empty the bag out on the floor and walk out. Viva la revolucion!

16 September 2016

September 2016: Week 6

Probably the best week we are going to have this autumn: a true mega, some filthy weather, a fine denouement. Totals of Whinchat, Wheatear, Spotted Flycatcher just about more than the sum of August.

Obviously the Ortolan stole the show and that's when we got truly lucky. the morning was grim, low cloud and not much light–to emphasise the point I'd been trying to take a photo of the Wigeon on Alex (yay clawed that one back), not too distant but shutter speeds meant impossible to capture without playing around with settings,and I don't do that!. Ten minutes later when I picked up the call the light was not much better. Clearly from the photos its an Ortolan, my initial views were anything but as straightforward.  I considered OB and checked on my Collins and Bird Guides apps, none illustrated Ortolan in anyway that would have helped with my ID.  OK the bird would have been very slim for a Corn Bunting and the bill not as massive, but the feint marking on the head and breast pointed that way.  When it hoofed it up to the trees I thought the game was up as I stood waiting for about 30 minutes for it to reappear.

Then having met up with Barry Jones he confirmed CB ID, with many of the same caveats as myself.  Sadly when "Tenacious" Bob and "Sick Note" Lethbridge turned up, there was no sign of the bird.

Later on the verge of giving up and heading for home I got a request to go help a friend with a powerpoint presentation.  By that time I was exhausted as the grim had given way to heat.  I thought to get a definitive number on the Whinchat as I made my way back to the north side of the flats. Of course the bunting decided to make a reappearance now!

I left it to Tenacious B and Sick Note to find it again, which they did and with pictures.  It was only when these came back on twitter that we could see what we'd got, though views on the back of the camera were leading to some raised questions.


Wanstead Flats: 3 Pied Flycatcher (2 SSSI/1 Long Wood/enclosure), 7 Spotted Flycatcher (1 SSSI/6 Long Wood), 5 Common Redstart, 5 Whinchat (plus 2 Whinchat reported in the park), 5 Wheatear, Tree Pipit, 3 Yellow Wagtail


Wanstead Flats: 5 Whinchat, 2 Common Redstart, Wheatear, Pied Flycatcher, 8 Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail,  (Wanstead Birders)

Wanstead Park: 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler,


Wanstead Flats: 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Common Whitethroats at the Enclosure 07:00 (Quentin Given); ORTOLAN BUNTING (Barry Jones/Nick Croft)18:45 (BirdGuides, Twitter) - last seen 19:05 centre copse (Tony Brown via Twitter) - an excellent record & well done all round : ) (JR); Common Redstart, 7 Whinchat, m Wheatear,  Tree Pipit, 2 Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, 5 Skylark, Reed Bunting, Linnet, 3 Willow Warbler, 20+ Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, Peregrine Falcon, 2 Sparrowhawk, 4 Kestrel, 30+ Gadwall, 6 Teal, 4 Shoveler, Wigeon (Wanstead Birders)


Wanstead Flats: 6 Whinchat, 6 Common Redstart, 5 Wheatear, Stonechat, 5 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Tree Pipit, 20+ Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Whitethroat, 8 Blackcap, 4 Willow Warbler, 20+ Chiffchaff, 2 Skylark, Hobby, 4 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk, Peregrine Falcon, 36 Gadwall, Shoveler, 20+ House Martin, Common Sandpiper (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan/Peter Brinton et al) - a good fall of migrants guys (JR) : )

Saturday was a bit of a wash out when I finally made it on to the patch, but it could have been so much better as I got what sounded spot on for a Barred Warbler alarm call coming from a thicket on the north side of the SSSI. Bob and I spent a good while staking the place out on Sunday morning for nothing positive, but there is still time, before most of the Wanstead Birders head off to Shetland, for another mega. 

12 September 2016

August 2016: Poor to middling

Hurrah it was August and just as it got good it stopped being August and became September.  In all 88 species for all the slog (just behind April in total), and all-in-all a bit disappointing. Migrant numbers well down on what we have come to expect, a similar story being reflected across all London patches. Are things just late as they were in Spring or just bypassing us?

Common Redstart:
Northern Wheatear:
Spotted Flycatcher:
Pied Flycatcher:
Reed Warbler:

Wood Warbler:

Yellow Wagtail:
Tree Pipit:
Sedge Warbler


Common Sandpiper


Only Yellow Wagtail came close to previous years and that helped by a total of 15 on the 24th including 7 birds feeding on the football pitches, when they weren't being booted by dog walkers.  Whinchat too not far off 2014's total, but otherwise poor.  Sedge Warbler were this year's Reed Warbler, even though they had their best year ever on Shoulder of Mutton with at least 3 broods between the 2 pairs.  We would have expected a deluge of young RWs from that direction, but none happened which begs the question where did last year's birds herald from?

Even Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler numbers seemed down on previous highs for the month, and Lesser Whitethroat were pretty hard to find all over the patch. So what is going on?  Reports from coastal patches for species like Tree Pipit were higher than I can remember–even our own Dan H was having a field day with his TP counts in Devon, so perhaps everything went a different route.

After a good end of June for Common Sandpiper, a few records in August is good.  One bird has taken up semi-residence on Jubilee of all places (still present on the 11th September), while we still wait for any sign of Green Sandpiper, so frequent last year.  The only other wader was a calling flyover Golden Plover on the 26th.

Only one record of Common Tern for the month, with an adult and what I believe is the first record of a young bird in tow on the 7th.  Common Gull nearly didn't feature at all, while Lesser Black-backed Gull numbers reached a peak of over 50 birds at one point. We are still figuring a way to get passed the eagle-eyes of Mr J Partridge (Walthamstow's larid expert) with our attempts at Yellow-legged Gull–maybe something here my tickle his fancy?

Only 3 Sand Martin heading south in the month, while Swallow numbers increased and our home grown House Martin buzzed around Long Wood in varying amounts.  the last Swift record was on the 19th which is really early as we usually expect a few to linger into September (oops spoiler alert!).

A female Wigeon was  the only duck of note, associating with Gadwall on Alex on the 21st.  All our other wintering ducks picked up in numbers as they will continue to do ahead of the first WeBs count I believe at the end of September.

Good news on the grebe front, as pairs of Little Grebe were successful on Perch, Heronry and Shoulder of Mutton in the park and on Alex.  The Great Crested Grebe had a second brood of 4 young on Alex be the end of the month.  Not such good news for Little Owls as a predated corpse was found on the flats toward the end of the month, as was an eaten body of  a Kestrel.


Snaresbrook: 2+ Treecreeper
calling near Gilberts Slade (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: 2 Sedge Warbler, 4 + Willow Warbler, 20 + Chiffchaff, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, 20 + Common Whitethroat, Goldcrest, Meadow Pipit, 2 Skylark, 6 House Martin, 5 Gadwall, 6 Little Grebe, Common Gull, 5 1s Black-headed Gull, 3 1s Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kestrel (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats:
2 Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 m Pochard, Gadwall, 11 Little Grebe (5 young), Great Black-backed Gull, Skylark, Meadow Pipit (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Reed Warbler (and what sounds like the second brood have fledged), Willow Warbler, Coal Tit, pr of Great Crested Grebe, 3 Little Grebe (1 young), 8 House Martin, flock of 21 Goldfinch, 2 Swift (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats:
Hobby, 3 Sparrowhawk, Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 10+ Chiffchaff, 10+ Blackcap, 3 Sand Martin south, 6+ House Martin, Tufted Duck with 3 ducklings now & Mallard just one, Skylark (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Nuthatch (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats:
18 Common Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler, 6 Blackcap, 3 Willow Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, 13 Little Grebe, Shoveler, 2 Pochard, 3 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Little Egret, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, 6 + House Martin, Jersey Tiger (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Treecreeper, 2 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 2 young Reed Warbler, 7 Blackcap, 3 Common Whitethroat, 4 Little Grebe, 2 Great Crested Grebe (Nick Croft)



Wanstead Flats:
10+ Willow Warbler, 25+ Chiffchaff, 6 Lesser Whitethroat, 16+ Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, 3+ Blackcap, 1-2 Yellow Wagtail south, 2 Meadow Pipit, 2 Swift, 7+ House Martin, 2 Swift, 3 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk, 4 Gadwall, 5 Linnet (Nick Croft/John Whele)


Wanstead Flats:
8 Willow Warbler, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Kestrel, 2-3 Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, 5 Swift, 10 + House Martin, Gadwall, Meadow Pipit, (Nick Croft/Richard Rae)


Wanstead Flats: 2 Common Tern (adult and 1w)
, 6+ Willow Warbler, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler, 10 + House Martin, 2 Swift, Gadwall, 3 Shoveler, Tufted Duck still with 3 young and the Mallard chick, 3 Kestrel, 3-4 good candidates for young Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 10 + Goldfinch (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: Kingfisher, Little Egret, 5 Little Grebe (3 young), Great Crested Grebe have one young so far in their second brood, 2 Gadwall, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Nuthatch (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: 30+ Common Whitethroat
, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 7+ Blackcap, 3 Willow Warbler, 15+ Chiffchaff, 11 Swallow feeding with House Martin by Long Wood, 2 Kestrel, 2 Skylark, 3 Meadow Pipit, 3 Gadwall, 50+ Lesser Black-backed Gull (including 11 1w) in roost (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats:
30 + Chiffchaff, 10 + Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 9 Swallow, 6 + House Martin, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kesttrel, Gadwall (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Flats:
first returning f Wheatear of the autumn, Yellow Wagtail, 2 Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 6+ House Martin, Gadwall, 7 Little Grebe, 35+ Lesser Black-backed Gull (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 6 Willow Warbler, 7+ Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Common Whitethroat,  7 House Martin, Kingfisher, Little Egret, 2 Teal, 5 Little Grebe, 2 Great Crested Grebe (female still incubating), 2 Sparrowhawk (youngster heard calling) (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats:
30+ Chiffchaff, 10+ Willow Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Skylark, 10+ Gadwall, 4 Pochard, 37 Greylag Goose, 11 Little Grebe (6 young), (Nick Croft/"Biker" Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: Little Egret, Gadwall (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats:
5 Swallow, 15+ House Martin, 30+ Chiffchaff, 5+ Willow Warbler, 20+ Common Whitethroat, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, 3 Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck (+ 4 chicks + Mallard chick going strong), Grey Wagtail and one young, 2 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Reed Bunting, Linnet (Nick Croft/john Whele)

Wanstead Flats: Sedge Warbler,
2 Hobby, 20 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Skylark, 12 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2  Herring Gull, 50 Black-headed Gull, 10 Common Whitethroat, Sparrowhawk (Bob Vaughan, James Heal)


Wanstead Flats:
14 + Willow Warbler, 20 + Chiffchaff, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, 2 Yellow Wagtail, Skylark, Swallow, 15 + House Martin, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, Gadwall (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Little Egret, Kingfisher, 5 Little Grebe, 5 Great Crested Grebe (3 young), 2 Goldcrest, 2 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 3 Swift, 4 House Martin (Nick Croft) Reed Warbler singing sub-song (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats:
first returning  Spotted Flycatcher of the autumn in SSSI, 5+ Willow Warbler, 15+ Chiffchaff, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 20+ Common Whitethroat, 5 Blackcap, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 11 Swallow, 5 House Martin, Swift, Sparrowhawk, 10+ Gadwall, 2 Teal, 5 Pochard, 6 Tufted Duck, 10 Little Grebe, Linnet (Nick Croft/John Whele)


Wanstead Flats:
first returning Whinchat of the autumn, Spotted Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtail, 5+ Willow Warbler, 20+ Chiffchaff, 15+ Common Whitethroat, 5 Swallow, 3 Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: 2 Yellow Wagtail,
Swallow, 7 House Martin, 3 Swift, 5+ Willow Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, f Teal, 4 Gadwall, 6 Pochard, 8 Little Grebe, 2 Skylark (Nick Croft/John Whele/Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: 1-2 Spotted Flycatcher,
6+ Willow Warbler, 20+ Chiffchaff, 20+ Common Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 6+ House Martin, 20+ Gadwall, 5 Teal, 5 Pochard, Kestrel, 2 Common Gull (Nick Croft)



Wanstead Flats: Whinchat
in  brooms, Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Sedge Warbler, 6 + Willow Warbler, 20+ Chiffchaff, 15 + Common Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap with thick white wing bar, Goldcrest, Swift, 8 House Martin, Yellow Wagtail, 11 Gadwall, 7 Pochard, f Teal, 7 Little Grebe, 2 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 3 Mistle Thrush (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: Little Egret, 2 Coal Tit (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: Spotted Flycatcher
still Long Wood, Garden Warbler, 3 Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Yellow Wagtail, 2 Hobby, 2 m Kestrel, 3-4 Sparrowhawk, 2 Common Gull, Skylark, 10 + House Martin, 5 Tufted Duck, 4 Pochard, 6 Little Grebe (Nick Croft/Johnathan Lethbridge)

Wanstead Park: one flock of 50+ Great and Blue Tit, Coal Tit, 2 Chiffchaff, Gadwall, 6 Little Grebe, House Martin (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Flats: Tree Pipit
(TB), Wigeon, Yellow Wagtail, 10 Gadwall, 6 Pochard, 3 Swallow, 2 Meadow Pipit, 2 Willow Warbler (Tony Brown/Bob Vaughan/Jonathan Lethbridge)


Wanstead Flats: 1w m Common Redstart, 2 Spotted Flycatcher
(enclosure), 2 Yellow Wagtail, 7+ Willow Warbler, 20+ Chiffchaff, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 8 House Martin, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 20 Gadwall, 4 Pochard, 4 Teal, 4 Shoveler, 8 Little Grebe (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Little Owl (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: 1w m Common Redstart, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Yellow Wagtail,
7 + Willow Warbler, 15 + Chiffchaff, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, 10 + House Martin, Coal Tit, 3 Kestrel, 2 Gadwall (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan) Common Redstart in enclosure (possibly a second bird), Spotted Flycatcher still, Lesser Whitethroat (James Heal)



Wanstead Flats: 2 sub adult m Redstart, Whinchat, 15 Yellow Wagtail
(including flock of 7 on deck), 3 Meadow Pipit, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Swallow, 10+ House Martin, 10+ Willow Warbler, 20+ Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, 5 Skylark, Nuthatch, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 20+ Gadwall, 7 Shoveler, 6 Pochard, Teal, 6 Little Grebe, Little Egret, Linnet (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)


Leyton Flats: Whinchat, 2 Yellow Wagtail,
2 Willow Warbler, Kestrel, Grey Wagtail, 3 Pochard, 4 Blackcap, 2 Common Whitethroat, 2 Swallow, 2 Coal Tit (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: 6 Whinchat, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Swallow, 10+ House Martin, 10+ Willow Warbler, 20+ Chiffchaff, 20+ Common Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, 3 Skylark, 3 Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, f Teal, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge)


Wanstead Flats: Pied Flycatcher, 7+ Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat, Golden Plover, Common Sandpiper,
  Tree Pipit, 2 Meadow Pipit, 3 Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, 5+ Willow Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Goldcrest, 14 Swallow north, 6+ House Martin, 2 Kestrel, 6 Gadwall, 3 Shoveler, Pochard, Teal, 6 Little Grebe (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan/Simon Worsfold)


Wanstead Flats: Pied Flycatcher
reported (Bruce Carson), Spotted Flycatcher, 2-3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whinchat, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Skylark, 6 + Willow Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, 20 Gadwall, 3 Shoveler, Teal, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 8 Swallow, 10 + House Martin (Wanstead Birders et al)

Wanstead Park: 7 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 11 Little Grebe, 2 Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Sparrowhawk, 4 House Martin (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 2 Wheatear,
2 Willow Warbler, 15+ Chiffchaff, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 10+ Blackcap, Swallow, 18+ House Martin, 3 Skylark, 1w Grey Wagtail, 10+ Gadwall, 3 Teal, 2 Shoveler, Pochard, 2 Tufted Duck, 4 Little Grebe, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft/John Whele/Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: 2-3 Whinchat
(Richard Rae), 5 Wheatear, 4 Willow Warbler, Lesser Whtiethroat, 11 Swallow, Sand Martin, 10+ House Martin, 3 Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipit, 10+ Gadwall, Shoveler, 2-4 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, Linnet (Nick Croft/Rob Sheldon/Bob Vaughan/James Heal)

Wanstead Park: Great Crested Grebe with 3 young (Tony Brown)



Wanstead Flats: Whinchat, Wheatear, Spotted Flycatcher,
6+ Willow Warbler, 15+ Chiffchaff, 15+ Common Whitethroat, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, 6+ Blackcap, 10+ House Martin, Skylark, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 10+ Gadwall, Teal (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 3 Whinchat, Wheatear, Spotted Flycatcher,
20+ Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 8 Swallow, 11+ House Martin, 2 Kestrel, 10+ Gadwall, 3 Teal, 4 Tufted Duck, 3 Shoveler, Meadow Pipit, 2 Yellow Wagtail, Skylark (Nick Croft/Simon Worsfold et al)