1 July 2014

As s*@#ty as expected!

Only one more rubbish month to go till August, and while it was highly pleasant being out in the sunshine with butterflies, dragons, damsels, hovers, bees, wasps, hoppers, flowers and trees all looking fantastic, this is a birding blog and sadly June is not hot for birds. So the highlight of the month goes to an inflatable Zebra drifting high south down the Roding, a perfect metaphor for the insane wastefulness that is the human race.

OK there was a bird or two of note and some unseasonal appearances, but mostly it was about singing warblers, thrushes and the constant wheezing, chirruping calls of Greenfinch.

The highlights (this wont take long)

  • A what-else-could-it-have-been Hoopoe, the first for 38 years seen briefly in flight, skirting round Wanstead CC towards the golf course. Made doubly rare by the fact that it was spotted by Jono, not in some foreign place for once, and actually, very nearly on the patch. It wasn't located again as it was probably tucked away somewhere on someones well watered lawn.

 Here's what a Hoopoe would look like if the well watered lawn in question had a sand dune in it!
  • A really late or really early Spotted Flycatcher, feeding from the tall trees in Motorcycle Wood before flitting west along the birches and disappearing. The second non-autumn bird this year and a hint that July just might be a stella improvement on June.
  • ...and the one(s) that got away again! Just about to cross Centre Rd, I noticed a bird to south performing a shallow, fast stoop.  Pretty sure it was a gull, say an immature Lesser B or Herring, I could not quite nail it as its wings obscured its head.  Then it lowered what looked like talons, which wasn't what I was expecting, before it went behind Motorcycle Wood. Couldn't find it, but that's when I got the Spotty! And to add insult to injury on the last knockings of the month I am ambling round the enclosure east of Long Wood and I hear crows making a racket. Should have gone there and then, but, as per, I was distracted by a young Lesser Whitethroat making young Greenfinch-sounding calls.  By the time I had confirmed LW the crow noise had abated.  The cause of which was now circling way beyond the west end of Long Wood, I would guess over the west part of the SSSI if not further.  A Buzzard-sized raptor circling high on incredibly flat wings, but always going away from me.  Even through big bins it was near impossible to pick up any salient features.  Again I put the news out, more in hope than expectation. Arse!

Good, but mixed news on the warbler front: The Garden W in the SSI looks to have bred and now could be thinking of a second brood, as it's started singing again, meanwhile his compatriot in Long Wood gave it a good shot for most of the month before finally giving up and, presumably, moving on. With Lesser Whitethroat singing again, it looks like they might be on brood number two too. Common Whitethroat young are everywhere (but probably not as many in the past due to the destruction of prime habitat) and while not so numerous, young Chiffchaff are becoming more apparent.  The Reed Warbler are lying low but have been seen carrying food, so good news. The only Reed Warbler on the flats was seen on the 13th (the same day as an unseasonal Siskin called flying west), with only a couple of other records coming from the Roding. Off course there are plenty of Blackcap, even an oodle-doodling bird north of Long Wood. The Willow Warbler was singing near Bush Wood at the beginning of the month and could have been the bird singing and later seen in the SSSI.  Stu found young on Leyton Flats, so they are just about holding on.

On the Hirundine front, a few Swallow made into the month, the last being towards the middle part.  It looks like there might four pairs of House Martin in the colony of Aldersbrook Road, which is excellent news, and made be others from another colony towards Manor Park. No Sand Martin this month, but they are busy.  Swift numbers reached three figures early on and fell back, dependent on the weather, by the end of the month.

The Common Tern still use Heronry for a quick snack, while the first returning Black-headed Gull were quickly followed by more, mostly first summer jobs with a few failed breeders in with them.  A solitary Common Gull was on Jubilee where the large gull creche finally disbanded.

The first returning Gadwall, both male, spent a couple of days on the Alex, while Steve (slime-mould) Thorpe had a Teal on Shoulder of Mutton.  Good news for Egyptian Goose fans with a pair and young being spotted by Jono during an act of trespass in his search for his Hoopoe. Nothing doing on the Tufty front and the Pochard continue to be stubbornly against settling down too. Only a couple of Shelduck sightings this month, which is to be expected. It's not looking like a good year for the swans, pairs on Alex, Shoulder of Mutton and the west end of Heronry have a grand total of 3 cygnets, while the Perch pair (now on Heronry) have six, which has inspired this month's cod science: has feeding of water birds reduced their ability to attain their physical prime when it comes to raising young? My evidence - the birds on Perch get no crap and have lots of young, while the birds most likely to get stuffed with rubbish have very few. Case closed, stop feeding the birds!

The Great-crested Grebe still have 3-young on Heronry, though where the other parent has gone is a mystery, and over on the basin a single youngster is in tow. Little Grebe are starting to hatch with five being spotted with ne pair on the Alex.  One youngster was even seen on the Angel (AKA Bandstand pond), but with water levels dropping rapidly I don't hold out much hope for it, and it was only seen once.

Raptors were few and far between: a couple of Peregrine sightings, no Hobby bar one on Leyton Flats, though Kestrel have been daily sightings on the flats, but mostly in the singular. Sparrowhawks must be just bombing through the woods, cos there's bugger all sightings of them soaring about.  No Buzzard which is to be expected too, unless the bird on the 30th was one them and not something more interesting.

Just the one singing Meadow Pipit now and really they should be more of a concern than the Skylarks, which appear and sound to be in rude health but still stubbornly refusing to show any increase in numbers. A few Pied Wagtail, a couple of Greys and no Yellows.

Greenfinch have maintained their position as uber-finch and more could be on the way.  Chaffinches can be heard singing and the tinkle of Goldfinch is always welcome.  The Linnets though have gone, for the moment. As for Reed Bunting, bar a few sightings, nada!

House Sparrows are still invading the brooms and appear to be doing well, the same can be said for Starling, though it's a bit surprising that the Sprawks haven't been cashing in on such a bounty.

More June to come, this time it's called July. On the plus side only 30-40 days before the first Wheatear return...


Wanstead Flats: 4 Egyptian Goose, 2 m Gadwall, f Pochard, singing Garden Warbler, singing Lesser Whitethroat, Grey Wagtail over, 6 House Martin, 30 + Swift (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: singing Reed Warbler + mate, m Pochard, Swallow through, Kingfisher, 2 Little Egret on Roding (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 4m and 2 f Pochard, m Gadwall, 3 Egyptian Goose, singing Garden Warbler, singing Lesser Whitethroat, 6 House Martin, 40 + Swift, 2 Kestrel (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Singing (2) Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler, 6 House Martin, 30 + Swift, Kestrel, 6 Egyptian Goose (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 3 Egyptian Goose, singing Garden Warbler, singing Lesser Whitethroat, Kestrel, 4 House Martin, 20 + Swift (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: singing Willow Warbler (Tim Harris), singing Reed Warbler, 2 Common Tern, 3 Little Egret, 6 House Martin, 10 + Swift (Nick Croft)

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: Hobby hawking insects lunchtime, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Common Whitethroat, 1 Willow Warbler, 6 Stock Dove, 3 Grey Wagtail, 5 Collared Dove, Goldcrest, Coal Tit (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead Park: singing Reed Warbler by the Roding (Tim Harris), pr Common Tern (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: 5 Lesser Whitethroat, singing Garden Warbler, 4 Egyptian Goose, 3 Pochard, m Gadwall, Kestrel, Linnet, 30 + Swift, 4 House Martin (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: singing Garden Warbler, singing Lesser Whitethroat, Kestrel, 6 House Martin, 30 + Swift, Pochard, m Gadwall, juv Pied Wagtail (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: singing Reed Warbler, pr Common Tern carrying food north, 5 Great Crested Grebe (3 chicks), 2 Little Egret, 5 Grey Heron (3 juv) (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: singing Garden Warbler and a pair making alarm calls in Motorcycle Wood, Lesser Whitethroat singing, 4 Egyptian Goose, pr Pochard, Kestrel, 30 + Swift, 6 House Martin, Kestrel, 2 Little Grebe chicks (Nick Croft).

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: 2 Common Tern on Eagle, then later perched on buoys on Hollow Pond (Stuart Fisher).


Wanstead Flats: singing Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Kestrel, 5 Stock Dove, 50 + Swift, 6 House Martin (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: possibly 2 singing Reed Warbler (Shoulder of Mutton), flycatching bald juvvy Blackcaps, Little Egret, Kestrel, 40 + Swift, 4 House Martin (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Siskin over, Reed Warbler Cat & Dog and then later singing east end of Long Wood (presumably the same bird), 4 Lesser Whitethroat, singing Garden Warbler, Grey Wagtail, 2 singing Meadow Pipit, 30 + Swift, 5 House Martin, singing Stock Dove + 4 others, f Pochard, 2 Egyptian Goose, Kestrel (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 2 Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat carrying food, 5 Swift, 4 House Martin, Little Egret (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Kingfisher, Reed Warbler, Common Tern, 4 Grey Wagtail (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 20 Swift, 3 House Martin, 1-2 Kestrel, Little Grebe chick on Angel (first for many years, first time there has been appreciable water in the pond during the summer for many years) (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: singing Garden Warbler, 3 House Martin, 10 Swift, 2 singing Meadow Pipit, 5 Skylark, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 3 House Martin, Reed Warbler, Swift, Common Tern, Little Grebe (Nick Croft); Wanstead Park p.m: 2 Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Peregrine on pylon plus Grass snake sunning itself by river (Jean-Patrick Elmes).


Wanstead Flats: 2 Garden Warbler, 1st summer Common Gull (first returning bird of the Autumn), Egyptian Goose, 2 m Pochard, 5 singing Skylark, singing Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, 10 + Swift, 2 House Martin (Nick Croft)

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: family group of Willow Warbler, drake Pochard, Grey Wagtail, 3 Great Crested Grebe, Kestrel, 2 Grey Heron, 6 Tufted Duck, 1+ Coal Tit, Goldcrest (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead Park: Hoopoe briefly in flight over Wanstead Cricket Club towards the basin, not seen subsequently (first for 38 years), Egyptian Goose with young (Basin), Common Tern (Jono Lethbridge); Reed Warbler carrying food, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Common Tern, Grey Wagtail, 2-3 Little Egret, singing Goldcrest, Swallow north, 4-5 House Martin 50 + Swift, Grass Snake in Roding (Nick Croft)

Juvvy Carrion Crow. Pic: Kathy Hartnett


Wanstead Flats: 4 Garden Warbler (adult with yound SSSI), singing Willow Warbler, 4 House Martin, 20 + Swift, Egyptian Goose, m Pochard, juv Pied Wagtail, singing Meadow Pipit, Sparrowhawk, 6 Skylark (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Turaco, singing Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 6 Skylark, Garden Warbler, 20 + Swift, 8 House Martin, Kestrel, Stock Dove (Nick Croft). Did you really say 'turaco'? if so what type? tropical bird? no? 3.15pm 2 Peregrines high over Aldersbrook adjacent to the Flats (John Richardson). The Turaco (a White-cheeked Turaco, I believe, has been here for years and is a regular in the park, mad as stink! NC).

Wanstead Park: singing Stock Dove, Reed Warbler, Grey Wagtail, 8 House Martin, 10 Swift, 4 Little Grebe (Nick Croft).


Wanstead Flats: 3 Lesser Whitethroat (2 singing), singing Garden Warbler, singing Meadow Pipit, 3 singing Skylark, pr Pochard, 10 Little Grebe (5 new chicks), 10 Swift, House Martin (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 2 Little Egret, Kestrel, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Tern, 5 Black-headed Gull, Grey Wagtail (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Stock Dove, 9 House Martin, 20 Swift, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Little Egret, 2 Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Spotted Flycatcher (either really late or really early), 5 Lesser Whitethroat (2 singing), 3 Garden Warbler 1 singing), 10 + Swift, 6 + House Martin, singing Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, 4 Skylark, 2-3 Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 2 Reed Warbler, Kingfisher, 3-4 Little Egret, 4 House Martin, 6 Swift, Common Tern, 14 Black-headed Gull (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Buzzard sized raptor circling on flat wings heading high towards Leytonstone, so if anyone nails a Honey B...., singing Garden Warbler, singing Lesser Whitethroat (pus 2 young), 30 + Swift, 6 House Martin, Stock Dove (Nick Croft)