12 February 2011

Med Gull redux and a lot of Dogs.

Started off on the Flats scanning Gulls in the hope of pulling out the candidate Ring-billed Gull from yesterday. No joy, although there are enough Common Gulls on the Flats that finding a Ringer wouldn't come as a total shock - probably in excess of 700 in total, with several hundred Black-headed Gulls. With all the rain of late, the football pitches are proving extremely attractive for worm-hunting, and are thus swarming with Gulls early morning. On the western Flats where I started, I had around forty Herring Gulls, which was my highest "normal" count (the record is from late February 2010 when Wanstead Flats resembled a large puddle, with 3000+ Gulls including 82 Herring Gulls).

On the plus side the Med Gull from yesterday was still around, though mobile and unhappy posing for photographs. Gradually the footballers took over, so I headed with Tim to the Park, Nick having forsaken God's own patch for Rainham (honestly, who would do such a thing?).

The Park was crawling with dogs. A 360 degree scan from the Tea Hut of Happiness (and openess) revealed no fewer than 22 dogs, including an enormous one that bore more than a passing resemblance to a Grizzly Bear. You couldn't move for canines, ninety percent of them out of control. A tip for those who contemplate sitting down to enjoy their cup of tea - stand. We observed two dogs pissing against the Tea Hut's chairs, it's disgusting. Today was all about dogs, until about lunchtime they ruined my walk, running amok through habitat, jumping on me, in all the ponds, even swimming in the Roding. It was so bad I briefly entertained renaming this blog Wanstead Dogging, but somehow it had a slightly unsavoury ring to it. Mind you, it would probably get a lot more hits. By mid-afternoon dog levels had declined to something bordering on tolerable, but the birding remained quiet. Not sure how many miles I covered, but on my third visit to the OSW I managed to connect with a Little Egret that flew south and out of sight.

Other birds of note included a drumming Lesserspot at the far northern end of the Ornamentals (and another in the centre Copse on the Flats), and finally a Kingfisher on the Roding, calling stridently as it zoomed past south roughly level with the Canal. The regular Egyptian Geese were on Heronry in the afternoon, though not in the morning, and the Treecreeper was reported from near the Grotto.

And finally a plug for the 2010 Bird Report, a link to which you should see over on the right, or there is a tab at the top where you can also access 2009. Tim has put together two top-notch reports that show how good this area is, illustrated lavishly with stunning photography, ahem. The 2010 is hot off the metaphorical press, and it's free!


  1. Nicely produced report.

    On what basis are records such as Black Kite, displaying Goshawks, Honey Buzzard, flyover Woodlarks, Red-throated Pipit and Yellow-browed Warbler etc included, (although I noted the last two are 'probable' only)?

  2. Observer records only, though I believe that Gos etc are being written up for the County Recorder - I didn't see any of them unfortunately. Oh, actually the RT Pipit was me (in 2009?) and as I'm not 100% (t'was a flyover) I chose not to submit it. If you are casting doubt, the feeling here is that it would be churlish, in a local context - and this is only a local report don't forget - to exclude records that local birders have submitted purely because they sound unlikely in context, or are classic confusion species. This may end up causing discrepancies between, say, the LBR, and our bird report, but we (or I do, at least) accept that the LBR stands as the official record.

  3. Hi Jonathan, thanks for replying

    What you include in the local report is, of course, up to the locals. However, I came across it just browsing on the net and there are no disclaimers in there about records. If you include records that haven't been through the 'official' channels, people will certainly express doubt. If they're good, they'll pass muster and be published.

  4. The fact they sound unlikely in context or are classic confusion species is precisely the reason for more rigour. I don't see it as churlish at all. I realise it is only a local report but it is now viewable by everyone. Otherwise you're only kidding yourselves by including any old report and people will look at other records in light of those you've 'accepted' without detail. A simple disclaimer in the reports would go a long way.