The weather was dull with a few brightspots, and the birding was dull with a few brightspots, but on the bright side- its a month closer to something exciting happening so if I can avoid self harming myself too much through the tedium of July...
- Cuckoo reported singing down by the stables
- Turtle Dove flyover of the Shoulder of Mutton on the 13th
- Garden Warbler: where last spring we had none, this year four singing birds and two that were holding territory. That they've both stopped singing doesn't mean they have moved on...
- Reed Warbler: singing males on Alex, Bush Wood, the Shoulder of Mutton, the Old Sewage Works (3 singing at one point), and mate-less and moved on
- 5 more Shelduck making it the best year yet (11th and 21st)
- Clouded Yellow briefly on the 19th by the Shoulder of Mutton (a London year first, I believe) and not a bird
- Painted Lady on the 20th near the Esso copse, and also not a bird
Half way through the year and it looks to be a good one for Chaffinch Usually around now they are hard to find, but this year they are calling everywhere. A good year for Greenfinch too with small family groups in the SSSI, Long Wood, the Alex scrub, and various locations in the park. Bullfinches are now being seen and heard again in the OSW, but only in ones or twos.
It should be a good year for thrushes; Song Thrushes are still singing, Blackbird young can be heard chacking in the undergrowth, but Mistle Thrushes curiously scarce. I did see a large party flying from the False Acacia behind my flat (off patch) numbering over 10, but no large family groups on the flats as yet.
The movement of Swallow finally halted towards the end of the month, and our resident House Martin this year number just four, though I haven't checked the nesting site to see if any more are at home. The Sand Martin mystery might have been cleared up after a chance meeting I had by the Perch pond, with a birder who had been watching a nest site at Barking, which may account for the regular sightings over the Alex. Counts for Swifts have ranged from 20 to over to well over a hundred on both flats and park and it's hard to imagine that these birds are in decline, but we do rather well for them here.
Faring less well are birds like the Grey Wagtail and Kingfisher, both river side nesters and probably suffering from the fluctuations of the Roding in the early spring. I've subsequently seen the Kingfisher carrying food along the Roding, so maybe they've tried again, whereas the sight of a pair of Grey Wags around Heronry means they haven't.
Failure too for the Great-crested Grebe, in all probability to Mink predation. The male suddenly disappeared and the female abandoned the nest. She did try shacking up with the bachelor on the Perch, but I don't think he was up for it and it looks like she's now moved on. No sign as yet of any Little Grebe chicks, or Tufted Duck, and our hoped for Pochards never materialised.
Our resident warblers are doing well, and Lesser Whitethroat territories could be at a high. The Willow Warbler now only occasionally sings from his Birch wood home, but he has become harder to pin down. A second bird was singing on the south edge of Bush Wood for most of the early part of the month, it's gone quiet there too.
Collectively we found five Great Spotted Woodpecker nests, seen a few juvenile Greens, but no more signs of any Lesser spots, while another woodland bird, the Stock Dove, appears to be coping well with the invasion of Ring-necked Parakeet who could be a competitor for suitable nest sites.
We're still not sure how the year's going for the larks and pipits on the flats, lots of activity, but nothing tangible to show for it. Seven singing Skylark was the best count, with two Meadow Pipit still parachuting in the brooms.
A quiet month on the raptor front. Only one Buzzard, but potential signs of nesting behaviour from our Hobby and signs too of Sparrowhawk carrying food for young somewhere.
The Terns have been back on Heronry, with three on one occasion. Where these might be nesting is baffling, I timed the regular bird from when he left the pond carrying fish to when he returned; just over 10 minutes, which implies it's got to be somewhere close.
Too much excitement for you? Then have the rest of the news. Be still my beating heart!
Wanstead Flats: Common Buzzard (Dan Hennessy), Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat (Josh Selfe), 10 Sand Martin, House Martin, 3 Swallow, 100+ Swift (Nick Croft/Tim Harris)
Wanstead Park: Garden Warbler (Josh Selfe), pr Hobby (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: Reed Warbler (SoM), Common Tern (DH), Willow Warbler (TH), Hobby, Swallow, House Martin, 150+ Swift (Nick Croft). Reed Warbler Bush Wood (Paul Ferris)
Wanstead Flats: Lesser Whitethroat + yg, 5 Sand Martin, 4 House Martin, Swallow, 50+ Swift, Kestrel (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 2 singing Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Little Egret, Hobby, Kestrel, the Great Crested Grebe has abandoned the second nest after losing its partner - presumably to a mink, 5 Little Grebe, Swallow, 100+ Swift (Dan Hennessy/Tim Harris/Mike Messenger/Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Swallow, 4 Sand Martin, 3 House Martin, 100+ Swift, Stock Dove, 2 Little Grebe, 2 Egyptian Goose, pr Kestrel (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: Reed Warbler still Shoulder of Mutton, Willow Warbler Bush Wood, pr Hobby, 2 Swallow north, House Martin, 100+ Swift (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: 2 Sand Martin, House Martin, 50+ Swift, Kestrel (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: pr Reed Warbler (Shoulder of Mutton), Garden Warbler still OSW, 2 Little Egret, Kingfisher, Sparrowhawk, House Martin, 60+ Swift; locals report singing Cuckoo from the stables area yesterday (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: singing Willow Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, Swallow, 4+ House Martin, 50+ Swift, Kestrel, 7 Skylark (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: Turtle Dove SE over Shoulder of Mutton pond (first for 2-3 years), 10+ Stock Dove, Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, yg Lesser Whitethroat, Kingfisher, 3-4 Little Egret, lone Great Crested Grebe has paired up again, Bullfinch, 2 Black-headed Gull N up Roding (Nick Croft/Josh Selfe)
Wanstead Flats: 2 Lapwing W, Linnet, Pochard E, 3 Sand Martin, 4 House Martin, Swallow, 50+ Swift, 4 Little Grebe (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 3 Shelduck N over Heronry (1 S later), 2 singing Reed Warbler (SoM), 2 singing Garden Warbler, Common Tern, Little Egret, Sparrowhawk, 50+ Swift, 4 House Martin (Nick Croft/Mike Messenger)
Wanstead Flats: Hobby, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Reed Warbler singing Alex, Lesser Whitethroat, singing Willow Warbler, 100+ Swift, Swallow N, 4 House Martin, 5 Stock Dove (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: Reed Warbler still Shoulder of Mutton, Little Egret, 50+ Swift, 4 House Martin, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: 2 singing Lesser Whitethroat, family of fledged Common Whitethroat, 5 Sand Martin, House Martin, 100+ Swift, Kestrel (Nick Croft/Tim Harris)
Wanstead Park: Garden Warbler still OSW, Reed Warbler, Little Egret, Common Tern, Sparrowhawk, 100+ Swift (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Egyptian Goose, House Martin (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: singing Reed Warbler still, 2 Grey Wagtail, 5 House Martin (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 2 Common Tern on heronry (Dan Hennessy)
Wanstead Flats: 2 Great Crested Grebe Alex, Lesser Whitethroat, Meadow Pipit with food, House Martin, 30+ Swift, appears to be a good year for Chaffinch (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 3-4 Reed Warbler (SoM), 2-3 singing Willow Warbler (Bush Wood), 3 Common Tern, 2 Grey Wagtail, Bullfinch, 2 Little Egret, Hobby, Kestrel, Sand Martin, House Martin, 30-50 Swift, 20+ Jackdaw hawking for flying ants (Nick Croft/Tim Harris/Bob Vaughan/Dan Hennessy)
Wanstead Flats: 4 Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler singing in SSSI, Swallow N, House Martin, 3 Sand Martin, 30 + Swift, Kestrel, Egyptian Goose (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 1-2 Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler still OSW, Lesser Whitethroat, Kingfisher, Little Egret, Great Crested Grebes back on Perch Pond, 2 Common Tern, Kestrel, Nuthatch; Clouded Yellow briefly in reeds on Shoulder of Mutton then flew N towards golf course (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: 5 Lesser Whitethroat, Sand Martin, House Martin, 20-30 Swift, Grey Wagtail; Painted Lady (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: Garden Warbler, no sign Reed Warbler, singing and very tatty Goldcrest, 4 House Martin, 30+ Swift, tatty Sparrowhawk, Little Egret (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler both singing SSSI, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Shelduck over, Egyptian Goose, 4 House Martin, 30+ Swift, Kestrel (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 4 Sand Martin, House Martin, 40+ Swift, Little Egret, singing Goldcrest (SoM) (Nick Croft/Dan Hennessy).
Wanstead Flats: 50+ Swift, 8 House Martin, 3 Sand Martin, singing Garden Warbler, singing Willow Warbler, 2 singing Lesser Whitethroat, Stock Dove, Egyptian Goose, f Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: Little Egret, family of Chiffchaff, Blackcap gathering nest lining material, 10 Swift, 5 House Martin, Common Tern, Grey Wagtail (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: Willow Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat SSSI, Stock Dove, 3 House Martin, 4 Sand Martin, 50+ Swift, f Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft).
Wanstead Park: Reed Warbler singing from the long hedge in Old Sewage Works, Grey Wagtail, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, House Martin, 50+ Swift (Nick Croft/Josh Selfe).
Wanstead Flats: Sand Martin, 4 House Martin, 50+ Swift, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, family of Chiffchaff east end Long Wood, Kestrel, 4 Stock Dove, Grey Wagtail (Nick Croft).
Wanstead Park: Little Egret, singing Coal Tit, Grey Wagtail, House Martin, 50+ Swift; Mink with 3 kits (Nick Croft).
Wanstead Flats: 50+ Swift, 3 House Martin, Lesser Whitethroat, 3 singing Skylark, 2 singing Meadow Pipit, juv Green Woodpecker (Nick Croft/Stuart Fisher)
Wanstead Park: Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 2 Little Egret, 2 Grey Wagtail, Common Tern, 3 Black-headed Gull, 4 House Martin, 60+ Swift, Bullfinch, 2 Kingfisher, 10+ Stock Dove, 10+ juv Chiffchaff in Old Sewage Works; Grass Snake in the Roding, Hornet and the 4 Mink are still on the loose (Nick Croft/Stuart Fisher)