14 November 2015

Plastic and other bits

November gloomily goes on as a procession of wet fronts and wind roll in from the south west.  Grotty enough for me not to get the camera out very often, and not grotty enough for there to be anything worthwhile getting the camera out for.  It looked like that might have changed this week when I spotted an interesting duck on the Heronry.  Big blue bill, could it be? Ruddy Duck it wasn't, but what it actually was–quite beyond me too!  Luckily "Gaucho" Bob was shadowing me, and with his wealth of experience in South America quickly called it a Silver Teal. This was the second bird though, the first had flown of earlier in the company of Mallard, that well known inter-continental carrier of things exotic. His picture below shows quite clearly this bird was un-ringed and therefore completely pukka for a UK first.  Shame then that we are pretty certain it came from Connaught Water and the careless wildfowl collection that's in the vicinity.

 Pic: Gaucho Bob

Nice duck for all that.

So I won't be scooping maximum finders and bonus points in the Patchwork Challenge. Here I am getting stuffed.  What was the Inner London League has now morphed into the Inland South Mini-league, pitting me against the likes of Ham Wall, Somerset (the small matter of Hudsonian Godwit) and some other noteworthy patches–none of course within four miles of the centre of of our capital. My nearest geographical rival, Graham White (aka The Grumpy Naturalist, aka Billy bloodworm) at Rye is also well ahead of me and causing me to think that perhaps Rye isn't as dull as I think. To be beaten by someone of his caliber is no disaster, but considering that with his ecological work overseas and in this country probably means he birds his patch considerably less than me–perhaps I should be more embarrassed.

It's that time of year again.  The time of year when I put off doing the hours needed to get the Bird Report out.  This year I have unilaterally decided to go for a screen show format, rather than one that looks like it could be printed out, but never will be, but in the spirit of true democracy I open up the decision of what goes on the cover to the wider blog space audience.

It looked like the decision had already been made for us from way back in the early weeks of January and the pretty black and white duck, which proved popular to bird starved London ornos. Wheatear (been done), Wryneck (done), Golden Plover, Skylark, Lapland Bunting all covered (and in the case of the last bird not recorded–yet!). So what other contenders were there: my Short-eared Owl didn't even get a nod from my colleagues in the early fashion parade (jealousy), and even Jono's sublime Redstart shots got only the one vote! So it looks like a one horse race, but that's because I had forgotten Allen, or at least considering most of the images I got–was trying to forget our short stay Red-legged Partridge. Jono of course did the job on the game bird. As for the Slav, it's down to whose slav is it anyway Mr Brown's or him again!

If any of our many visitors this year would like to add a piece on their experience of, what without question, is London's best site for passerine migrants (Redstarts, Whinchat, Spotted and Pied Flycatcher), they would be very welcome.

So to the contenders:

The quality of the above may have been compromised somewhat by me copying the images off the blog

 A selection of JL's

 "Allen" – Jono Lethbridge

 Back cover shot (one of mine)

Another of mine, probably in need of capturing the sympathy vote

JL's Redstart.  I know some are the wrong shape!

I did this

And just look what you're missing out on

Finally, as we always bang on about how good our patch is, when it's good, I thought I'd give you my take on the other great sites that London has to offer, especially as in a few year's time some of them will be no more (unless we fight to stop developers trashing them!). Obviously you can't lump somewhere like Rainham in with Staines Reservoir for example, so I've tried (in my own feeble way) to categorise them.


Staines Reservoir
Queen Mother
William Girling
Walthamstow complex


Rainham RSPB
Crayford Marshes

Gravel workings or former industrial sites

Tyttenhanger GPs
Stocker's Lake
Barking Bay (now done for)
London Wetland Centre 
Lea Valley

River sites

Gallion's Reach
West Tilbury
Barking Mouth


Dagenham Chase
Wanstead Flats
Fairlop Waters
Wormwood Scrubs

Reed bed/Mixed

Ingrebourne Valley
Rye Meads
70 Acres Lake (Lea Valley)


Richmond Park
Regents Park
Hyde Park
Bushy Park
Hampstead Heath
Wanstead Park

 Just a bit of fun and probably missed a lot of good places too!


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