29 July 2016

Bothering crows

James' female Peregrine was back in action today giving the crows almighty wallop, whether it was actually trying to catch them or just get some in early I am not sure.  Pure magic anyway.

13 July 2016

Ruby Tiger: New favourite moth

I don't find many large moths: Silver Ys, Mother Shipton, Burnett Companions–and I don't possess a light trap so I don't get to see many either.  Last year's moth night at the temple was an eye-opener where I managed to catch (in my hands) an Elephant Hawk Moth and got to see the beautiful Leopard Moth close up for the first time.  Today I was looking for Bee Orchids or at least trying to find ones going to seed, instead I stumbled across what I think is the most beautiful moth I have seen ever–a Ruby Tiger.  Evidently just emerged it was to say the least a bit sluggish and loathe to do anything really.  Except when I picked it up and it immediately made a rapid bee-line for my red hoody where it felt rather less exposed.  Apparently quite common, though I've never seen on to my knowledge, it likes the plants we have rather a lot of: brooms, ragwort, dandelion and dock.  Who cares phwoarr!

10 July 2016

Flying solo

For a long time there I thought we'd lost the young Great Crested Grebe on the Shoulder of Mutton, others though had seen him–so just me then!  Come Saturday and I decide upon something stupid: to stay up all night just to get on the patch at first light, all a bit silly really as all I got was bitten and interfered with by small bitey flies and bitey mosquito. 

It was a bit grim, but Swifts like grim and a hundred or so piled their way west over Long Wood. A few Black-headed gull slopped over, one could have been interesting but I only got the arse end of it as it flew over my head.  None of the black patches of the others on the underwing, but a bit of black on the head but whether it was a mask or a cap I couldn't tell and even I can't claim a Sandwich Tern on that basis.

Got to say apart from the bitey flies it was very nice being the only human on the flats, but then Rob Sheldon twittered of a Common Tern on Heronry, which kinda was a downer.  A coffee called and hope that the bird might come back I went via the Esso to the park.  I thought I check out the warblers to see if I could source more than the 8 from Friday. I couldn't however the GC Grebe was showing, and then it did a bit of practice wind flapping, a long run up and back again and even lifted off the water.  That probably gave it the shock of its life and would probably stop it from being so rash.  I decided to move before I fell asleep, but glanced back to see the bird actually airborne and doing little circuits of the pond.  Magnificent.  Who could blame it: abandoned by dad shortly after hatching and then mum buggers off leaving you to fend for yourself, with only the quarrelsome Little Grebe for company–who wouldn't want to fly the coup.

I have no found a new favourite hoverfly/fly things sp.  Spent an hour on the web trying to find hoverfly with white tipped antennae, UK and combinations on that theme–bugger all, so it must be rare...

June: May contain traces of birds!

Not a lot avian happening as one would expect for June in the metropolis, with Cuckoo the stand-out bird, 74 species for the month which make it slightly better than February.  For our resident breeding birds it's been a mix, some positive, some negative and some undecided.

Warblers: A visiting birder reported young Willow Warbler being fed by a parent in the SSSI, the resident male was still singing intermittently at the end of the month, and I did get calling birds while he was on song.  The Garden Warbler? He had stopped singing half-way through the month and things are quiet on that front. One or three Lesser Whitethroat began singing again in the SSSI, on the OSW and by Heronry, so a move to a second brood perhaps. Better news on the Reed Warbler front, with 3 territories still be the end of the month: Reedy 1 had a brood fledged by the end of June, while Reedy 2 had established a nest, only Reedy 3 appears single–we have a colony.  The commoner warblers; Chiffchaff, C Whitethroat and Blackcap are noisily as one would expect at this time of the year and some birds are on to their second broods.

What is going on in the brooms is somewhat harder to ascertain: 3–4 Meadow Pipit territories, parents seen with food, but no noticeable rise in bird numbers, worse for the Skylark with now a maximum of 3 singing birds and no sign of food collection–one of our birds may have hopped the fence and moved off in search of a mate as Stu F reported a singing male for a couple of day mid way through the month on Leyton Flats.

There maybe 6 + occupied nests in the House Martin colony, with birds being seen gathering mud in the Centre Road car park.  Considering the numbers we had at the end of the summer last year there is obviously  high mortality rate due to the rigours of migration.  There may be time for 2 broods again and so numbers will bounce back (20 birds were recorded feeding over the copses on the 9th July).  A few Swallows through in the month going both ways, and the Sand Martin visited the Alex less regularly.  Swift numbers are higher on gloomy days than on bright sunny ones, we have at least noted a few nesting sites on the fringes of the patch.

Flocks of Starling are still about on the flats, mainly now made up of young birds, but I figure that there aren't as many as in year's past and hopefully the numbers will continue to rise before the wintering influx. House Sparrows, where there are local colonies, appear to be doing well with a lot of fledged birds with them.  The Reed Bunting brought of a brood of young on the Shoulder of Mutton, where water levels and the reed bed are doing better than usual.  No sign of Linnet bar a few flyover so I guess they gave up on trying to nest here again.  Better fortune for our Greenfinch, by far the commonest finch here.

Kestrel sightings were down by the end of the month, which is strange but something more of what you'd expect with our resident Sparrowhawk–again with few sightings. Just a few Buzzard and Hobby sightings and you were more likely to see a Peregrine than either of the other two.

A good season for Mallard with some healthy sized broods and always more youngsters being seen. Nothing so far on either the Tufted Duck or Pochard fronts, but they are both late breeders.  Failed breeding Gadwall returned early on in the month and a few Shoveler put in an appearance. The Swans on Alex had lost all 6 young by the end of the month, so a poor year overall with just 4 cygnets in two broods left in the park.

The gull creche on the flats rose to well in excess of 100 birds, mainly young and near adult Herring Gull with a sprinkling of Lesser Blacks and the very occasional Great Black-backed. Daily records of Black-headed Gull, all presumably failed breeders, by the end of the month and just a single sighting of a tern in the park and a chance for Bob to grip me off for once.

The Great Crested Grebe on Shoulder of Mutton continued to play hide and seek with me at least, it certainly showing a different feeding strategy going on than last year.  The adult bird preferring to fish in the reeds as much or more so than in the open water. singles were noted on Herorny/Perch and a bird on the Jubilee for most of the month, meaning there must be a few in there at least. Little Grebe had chicks on Alex, but are sensibly keeping them well hidden from marauding Lesser Blacks.

There padded that out quite well considering the dearth of reports and bird life, but with just myself, Bob and Peter doing the rounds (with the occasional visit from James H) enthusiasm is at a low point. Luckily there are wonderful small things to look at and by the end of the month the WREN bioblitz year had reached 1100 species with the highlights being some nationally rare spiders found in the area of Long Wood.  My personal highlight finding 29 Bee Orchids in the Old Sewage Works.

No matter how wonderful mini-beasts and flowering plants are, hopefully, we can get back to birding by the end of July.  Rosefinch at Walthamstow? Nice male but still a Rosefinch and a minging bird, so no thanks.  Unless it decided to plop down on patch that is.


Wanstead Flats: 4-5 Meadow Pipit (parents carrying food), 3 Skylark, 10+ Swift, f Sparrowhawk, 100+ young gulls in roost by Alex (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Kingfisher, 3 Little Egret (Sean Kerrigan), 3 singing Reed Warbler, 2 Lesser
Whitethroat carrying food, Hobby chasing Swift, 4 House Martin, 3 m Pochard + female with a liking for a Tufted Duck, singing Goldcrest (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Hobby, singing Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 singing Meadow Pipit, 2 singing Skylark, 3 Pochard, 2 Shoveler, Black-headed Gull, 60 + Swift

Wanstead Park: Reed Warbler collecting nesting material (2 pairs now on Shoulder of Mutton), Lesser Whitethroat collecting food, eclipse Gadwall, 2 Great Crested Grebe (young still missing), 6 Little Grebe, 2 House Martin, 30 + Swift, f Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: singing Reed Warbler, singing Garden Warbler, Linnet, Reed Bunting, 3 Sand Martin, House Martin, 60+ Swift, 3 singing Meadow Pipit (4 territories), 3 Skylark, Gadwall, Pochard, Little Grebe with chicks, 6 Black-headed Gull west, m Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 3 singing Reed Warbler on Shoulder of Mutton (5 birds in total), Kingfisher, 8+ House Martin, 30+ Swift, Kestrel, Great Crested Grebe + chick, other adult on perch, 4 Little Grebe (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: singing Garden Warbler, and Lesser Whitethroat, 2 singing Meadow Pipit, 3 singing Skylark, 2 Swallow, Sand Martin, 4 House Martin, 60+ Swift, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe on Jubilee (a first!), 1-2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Kestrel, Linnet (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 8+ House Martin, 30+ Swift, 3 singing Reed Warbler (possibly a 4th), 2 Little Egret, Great Crested Grebe with chick (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: singing Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Meadow Pipit, 2 Skylark, pr of Reed Bunting, 4 House Martin, 20+ Swift, Kestrel, Great Crested Grebe still on jubilee pond (Nick Croft)

Leyton Flats: singing Reed Warbler (Stuart Fisher)


Leyton Flats: singing Reed Warbler, Common Whitethroat, 3 Nuthatch, singing Willow Warbler (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead Flats: Cuckoo going south over SSSI, singing Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, calling Willow Warbler, 4 Linnet (possibly adults with young), 6 Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Great Crested Gebe, 2 Pochard, 4 adult Little Grebe, 8 House Martin, Swallow, 40+ Swift (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: singing Reed Warbler, 3 Little Egret, Grey Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Little Grebe, Linnet, House Martin, 30+ Swift (Nick Croft)

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: singing Reed Warbler, 6 Common Whitethroat (incl 3 juvs), pr Reed Bunting, 3 Nuthatch, 2 Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, 8 Tufted Duck (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead Flats: Peregrine, Hobby, 2 Kestrel, singing Garden Warbler, singng Lesser Whitethroat (plus family group), singing and calling Willow Warbler, Reed Bunting female carrying food into Cat & Dog reeds, male singing nearby, 60 + Swift, 4 House Martin, Great Crested Grebe still on Jubilee, 3 Little Grebe, Pochard, 2 singing Meadow Pipit, 2 Skylark, Large Skipper (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Brown Argus in Old Sewage Works (Tim Harris)


Wanstead Park: 4 Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Grey Wagtail, 50+ Swift, 6+ House Martin, Little Egret, 4 Pochard, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Little Grebe, Kestrel (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 4 Meadow Pipit, 4 Skylark, singing Lesser Whitethroat, Great Crested Grebe, 2 Pochard, 2 Tufted Duck, Kestrel, 20+ Swift, 6 House Martin (Nick Croft/Peter Brinton)

Wanstead Park: singing Reed Warbler, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Little Grebe, House Martin, 20+ Swift, Silver Y (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: 3 singing Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, 3 singing Meadow Pipit (4 birds), 2 singing Skylark, Linnet, 4 House Martin, 20 + Swift, 2 Pochard (Nick Croft/Peter Brinton)

Wanstead Park: Singing Reed Warbler + one bird doing food runs between reed beds, singing Lesser Whitethroat, C Whitethroat fledglings, Kingfisher, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 4 m Tufted Duck, 6 House Martin, 20 + Swift (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: singing Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Pochard, many Swift (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: pair of Reed Bunting with food, singing Willow Warbler and another bird contact calling, singing Garden Warbler, 3 Gadwall, 2 Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Kestrel, late Swallow, 8 House Martin, 10+ Swift, sing Meadow Pipit, and Skylark (Nick Croft/James Heal)

Wanstead Park: Common Tern briefly on Heronry, 50+ Swift late evening, 6 House Martin, singing Reed Warbler, Hobby, Kestrel, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Grebe, Pochard (Bob Vaughan/James Heal/Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: singing Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler (back to chiff-willow) + calling bird, 3 Pochard, Gadwall, 2 singing Meadow Pipit, 3 singing Skylark, 40 + Swift, 8 House Martin, Coal Tit, 5 Little Grebe (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan/Peter Brinton)

Wanstead Park: singing Reed Warbler and fledged young in one reed bed, singing Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Gret Crested Grebe, 4 Little Grebe, Swallow, 6 House Martin, 30 + Swift, Kestrel, Four-spotted Chaser (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: singing Skylark, singing Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Common Whitethroat, singing Willow Warbler, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Wagtail, 12 Swift (Stuart Fisher)


Leyton Flats: singing Skylark still (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead Flats: Singing Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Bunting with food, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, 4 Gadwall, 2 Pochard, 5+ Little Grebe, 20+ Swift, 2+ House Martin, 4 Skylark, singing Meadow Pipit, Ringlet, 10 Meadow Brown (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Singing Willow Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, 2 male Kestrel having a set to over the SSSI, singing Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 2 Skylark, 2 Ringlet, Parasol Mushroom–earliest I can remember (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: singing Meadow Pipit, one adult carrying food, 2 singing Skylark, 4+ House Martin, 30+ Swift, Kestrel, Little Grebe (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 5+ Reed Warbler, Common Whitethroat by Shoulder of Mutton, Nuthatch, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Little Grebe (Nick Croft)