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2 October 2011
September, short but sweet
Funny month September, only half a month really, but a gem.
The Hobby fledge 3 young
Returning Siskin and Lesser Redpoll
Whimbrel heard on the 2nd
The mention of Osprey makes Jono smile (go on try it!)
Rock Pipit over Alex
Red-breasted Goose wins best looking goose award
With only half a month on offer, the hunt was on to get some good stuff before it and we buggered off. The Wryneck was a no show, but Jono finally got his much dreamed of Osprey (London and patch tick) on the 7th, it's early morning flap across Alex scattering hundreds of pigeons set us thinking: had it roosted in the park?
Other raptor news: the Hobby fledged 3 young in the ornamental waters with all five soaring majestically over the woods on occasions joined by the local Sparrowhawks. A Common Buzzard was seen at the other end of the park moving gracefully south on the 10th, and Kestrel became more apparent on the flats usually accompanied by a bevy of Crows, Jackdaws and Magpies.
Hirundine movement south peaked on the 17th with over 1,100 birds in just over 2 hours as observed at the tea hut of happiness by Tim Harris, with one flock of over 750 birds. Other smaller movements, but none the less still impressive, were of 100 + Swallow, 40 + House Martin and 30 + Sand Martin on the 12th and on the 20th when 300 + Swallow were followed south by 200 + House Martin. Large numbers of Meadow Pipit were also counted moving south during the month peaking at over 100+ on the 15th, Tree Pipit were recorded on several occasions (2 on both the 9th and 10th and 1 on the 19th), and a Rock Pipit made its mark on a day of more mass movement of Mipit on the 14th. Yellow Wagtail were heard most days with a high number of 11 on the 15th, and even Grey and Pied Wagtail put in appearances on a number of days.
Our favourite migrants, the chats, were well represented on most days with Wheatear reaching a high of 7 + birds on the 9th, Whinchat never reached the high numbers of previous years and could be pretty hard to find, especially at the weekends. Common Redstart were recorded on 3 days and a Stonechat even put in a showing on the 26th, only the 3rd record this year.
With strong winds on many days warblers were sometimes in hiding and during the course of the month their numbers gradually started to fall with the last Lesser Whitethroat seen on the 9th. Only Chiffchaff numbers held up at the end of the month, but there's still time for a fall if and when the weather changes in early October. By the end of the month Goldcrest had started appearing more regularly on the flats and were becoming more evident in the park too.
Spotted Flycatcher numbers peaked at 11 for the whole patch on the 10th (9 on the flats and 2 in the park), but, as with the warblers, some days they were hard to pin down because of the wind.
Finches started coming back, the first Siskin taking me by surprise on the 9th as it called but was not seen. In the following days small flocks were an almost daily occurrence and they would be joined by Lesser Redpoll (10 on the 15th) in the middle of the month. Chaffinch became more obvious, their numbers swelled by early migrants and Reed Bunting were seen on more than one occasion.
Local birder Gary Hewett, had a Whimbrel calling over his garden just to the south of the flats, the first record this year, and a possible Pink-footed Goose on the 13th could have been a feral bird, while the same day the RB Goose added a bit of colour to the Alex as it's tour of the home counties continues. Another could have been, and about-bloody time if it had have been, was a Redshank call on the 12th as Katia's last throws were experienced by the country as a whole, however one call does not a tick make, so we wait on.
Common Tern were recorded on one just one day, the 10th, with 2 flying east over the flats, and another fishing on Heronry. We've suggested a tern raft to the wardens, who appear quite happy at the prospect...
Finally our wintering ducks are coming back with Tufty numbers picking up in the park and Pochard hitting 19 on Heronry on the 10th.
Bring on the ouzels.....