Four new birds for the list (and the plastic Barnacle Goose) leaving us still 8 short of last year. Some were late - Whinchat and Common Sandpiper, and some came early - Spotted Flycatcher and Common Tern, and some still have turned up at all - Tree Pipit and Garden Warbler. Towards the end of the month it was already getting like June. Both Jono and myself hit the 100 mark, him earlier than last year and my ton up a few weeks later than previous. It's been hard work, especially with other local and national goodies to catch up with, and the poor patch has been somewhat neglected.
Highlights, and there were a few:
Wheatear numbers up till the 11th
Whinchat - a better passage than last spring - till the 11th
Possible Ring Ouzel, Old sewage works on the 2nd
Lesser Redpoll flyovers on several occasions
Twitchable Yellow Wagtails by the Alex
3 Shelduck on the 11th
Spotted Flycatcher briefly in the park (also on the 11th)
Kite(s) flying: record 4 on the 11th
Reedy returns, disappears, returns
Great-crested Grebes have 3 chicks
Possible singing Nightingale between the Roding and Ornamental Waters (being looked into!)
Stu's Melodious Warbler (just ever so slightly off patch-ish), in the running for London Bird of the year!
Nothing out of this world, nothing contentious, and nothing to get the pulse racing and make you want to get up really early, but that may be the problem - lethargy - bird movement round here is usually just after dawn.
Whinchat were noted on 4 days of the month consisting of possibly 6 birds, while Wheatear were noted on each day up until their complete disappearance on the 11th, 10 birds counted on the 3rd was indicative of the good passage we'd had for these this year. The one possible Ouzel and bird being chased by Blackbirds showing some kind of wing marking and a ouzel like posture, just a couple of days after the last sighting on the Ilford Golf Course at the end of April. The possibility of a Nightingale singing in the park is not that unexpected (Stuart had one 2 year's ago on the edge of the plain), but will be looked into.
The Mandarin were not noted in the month, but then hardly anything could be seen of the Ornamental Waters from the paths due to leaf cover. A few Tufties kicked around, with a couple of pairs on Jubilee where they nested last year. 2 Pochard turned up one day on the Shoulder of Mutton and a pair was also seen on the Alex. Egyptian Goose declined during the month and they began to favour the Jubilee pond and mating was noted in Centre Copse on the flats. May saw the demise of the popular Indian Running Duck ("Duckzilla"), the blame attached squarely on dog owners, and it was a probable dog attack that took out the cob on Shoulder of Mutton (taken into care) and has probably endangered the lives of the as yet un-hatched Mute Swans on that pond.
Finally after changing nest site the Great-crested Grebe have got 3 chicks, apparently doing well. Little Grebe are trilling nicely on Alex, SoM, and Heronry, but the birds on the Roding will have probably failed in the floods at the end of last month.
Still missing Garden Warbler from our lists, which suggests to me that our birds might actually be migrants rather than breeders, we may have to wait till August for returning birds then. The two Willow Warbler were still dueting in the SSSI, but by the end of the month it appeared that there was one winner of the Voice. Meanwhile Lesser Whitethroat singers peaked at 4 on the flats and 2 in the park, they've all virtually stopped singing so hopefully nesting in progress. There were 3 separate records of Reed Warbler: one of 2 birds on the west end of Heronry and one on the Roding. Chuntering in the reeds of SoM is our bird from last year, hopefully with a mate.
Winter finches still managed to put in appearances: 3 Siskin and a number of Redpoll at the beginning of the month, almost daily flyover Linnet and at the end of the month a pair of Bullfinch heard and seen going over Heronry. A single male singing Reed Bunting was noted by the Alex on the 26th, the birds are obviously not nesting this year in the boggy bit of the SSSI, another one lost!
Gull numbers are now down to single figures. Lesser Black-backed being the most consistent bird as they wait for a coot chick meal. Black-headed Gull and Herring are few and far between and all the Common have gone up north. A pair of Common Tern look like they are happy to take up residence in the park and probably would do so if there was somewhere for them to nest. We have approached the wardens for permission to put in a couple of rafts, but its probably too late for this year now.
The Aldersbrook House Martins finally returned and with 8 birds a small colony could be in the making. Sand Martin continued to be elusive, and Swallows continued to move through up until the end of the month. Already large congregations of Swift have been seen over Alex and Heronry and we live in hope that one will be a wrong-un!
Everybody managed to get on to one or two Yellow Wagtail, some of whom overcame their natural flyover instincts to actually land and feed round the shores of the Alex. No sightings of Grey Wagtail were noted for the month, they probably feed close to their nest site, which we believe is further up the Roding to the north.
Dan Hennessy got this year's spring Spotted Flycatcher on the morning of the 11th (probably the best day of the month), but it was not seen an hour or so later.
And it was the 11th that gave me the best raptor day on record with 4 Red Kites (part of a London-wide movement of the birds), Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, up to 3 Hobby, Common Buzzard, and a Peregrine Falcon - all virtually without having to move out of my seat at the Little Tea Shop of Happiness. Jono had another Red Kite over the following weekend bringing the yearly total to nearly 10 birds and a sign of their increasing success.
The other stuff....
Wanstead Flats: Whinchat, 8 Wheatear, 28 Swallow, 2 Sand Martin, 2 Swift, 3 Siskin, 2 Peregrine Falcon, 3 Lesser Whitethroat (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge)
Wanstead Flats: 2 Whinchat, 8-9 Wheatear, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Sand Martin, 3 Swallow, 10 Swift, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 4 Linnet (Nick Croft/Tim Harris/Jonathan Lethbridge)
Wanstead Park: possible Ring Ouzel old sewage works, 3 Swift, Lesser Whitethroat (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: 10 Wheatear, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Linnet, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Swift, 12 Swallow, 7 Sand Martin, 2 House Martin, Stock Dove (Nick Croft/Tim Harris/Jonathan Lethbridge)
Wanstead Flats: 5 Wheatear, 4 Yellow Wagtails (J Lethbridge)
Wanstead Flats: 4 Wheatear, 3 Yellow Wagtail - (2 on the edge of Alexandra lake, 1 over), 2 Lesser Whitethroat, c50 Swallows through, 1 Swift. (Tony Brown)
Wanstead Flats: between 0830-1030, 1 Hobby, 146 Swift, 74 Swallow, 12 House Martin, 1 Sand Martin north. 4 Wheatear. 4 Lesser Whitethroat. 1 Yellow Wagtail over (Tony Brown, Tim Harris)
Wanstead Flats: m Whinchat, 4 m Wheatear 1 f, 3 singing Lesser Whitethroat, 2 singing Willow Warbler, 20 + Swift, 10 Swallow, 2 Sand Martin, Hobby, Coal Tit, Linnet (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: Lesser Redpoll, 1 singing Lesser Whitethroat, 30 Swift, 2 Swallow, 2 Little Egret, pr Pochard (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: m Whinchat, 3 Wheatear, 3 Shelduck, 10 + Swallow, hundreds of Swift mostly west, Lesser Whitethroat, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge)
Wanstead Park: Spotted Flycatcher (Warren Rd entrance) at c. 07:30 (Dan Hennessy), no sign thereafter, 4 Red Kite (west), 2-3 Hobby, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, dozens of Swift west, 2 Sand Martin, 6 Swallow, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Little Egret, Kingfisher, Skylark over north (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: Lesser Redpoll, 2 Linnet, Little Egret, Peregrine Falcon, 2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 2 Willow Warbler, 12 Swift, 5 Swallow (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Little Egret (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: 100+ Swift, 10 Swallow, 2 House Martin, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, 10+ singing Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, 4 Stock Dove, Kestrel (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: 2 Willow Warbler, lots of Whitethroat & Blackcap, singing Skylark & Meadow Pipit (Conrad Ellam)
Wanstead Flats: 30+ Swift, Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat with peculiar subsong, Kestrel, 3 Stock Dove (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: Lesser Whitethroat, 3 House Martin, 20 + Swift (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: Hobby (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: 2 singing Willow Warbler, 5 Swallow, 20 + Swift, Linnet, Kestrel with food (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: Singing Reed Warbler (Shoulder of Mutton) another acro on Roding, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff with very yellow vent, 2 Swallow, Swift, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, the Great Crested Grebe have now got chick(s), Meadow Pipit (h), (Steve Thorpe/Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: singing Willow Warbler, 2 Swallow, 20 + Swift, Egyptian Goose (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: Hobby over ornamental waters, Lesser Whitethroat, singing Goldcrest, 2 Greater Spotted Woodpecker nests with young, Great-crested Grebe have 2 chicks with one egg remaining, no sign of any acros (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: Singing Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, m Reed Bunting, Linnet, 8 Swift, 2 Swallow, 5 Mistle Thrush (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: Great-crested Grebes with 3 chicks, Little Egret on Roding (Tim Harris)
Wanstead Flats: House Martin, Swallow, 10 Swift (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: Common Sandpiper (Steve Thorpe), 4 House Martin, Kestrel, 3 Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft/Paul Davis)
Wanstead Park: 2 Common Tern (06:30-09:30) on Heronry, Little Egret, Reed Warbler (shoulder of mutton) (Steve Thorpe/Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 2 Common Tern again early morning (Dan Hennessy/Steve Thorpe)
Wanstead Flats: Linnet, Starling trying to eat a newt, Kestrel, 5 House Martin (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 2 Common Tern again 06:30-09:30, 2 singing Reed Warbler + 1 other, Lesser Whitethroat, Little Egret (Jonathan Lethbridge/Steve Thorpe/Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: Barnacle Goose south, 1 singing Willow Warbler, c. 10 singing Common Whitethroat, Swallow, 8 House Martin, c. 10 Swift, Kestrel , 4 Egyptian Goose (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 2 Common Tern still, singing Reed Warbler, Little Egret, 2 Kingfisher, 2 Bullfinch, Black-headed Gull (Steve Thorpe/Nick Croft)