It's usually downhill from October onwards with only the Wanstead Birders drinks and January the 1st to look forward to. Some heavy rain midway through the month means Angel is beginning to hold water again and the lake edge on Shoulder of Mutton is creeping behind the reeds, which is good for Water Rail. It was a good month for these quirky little birds, with a brace holding out on the Roding, despite rising water levels, another seen on the first, small, island in the Ornamentals, while another was flapping across the west end of Heronry (this could be the bird seen on the Shoulder of Mutton as the month closed). Four birds on one day is pretty good for a site like this, but I suppose there could be more lurking out there.
Regardless of the deluges this month water levels are still below what they should be, though we aren't complaining–they have helped the growth of our Wigeon flocks who, with Teal, had records broken (62 and 37 respectively). The freezing conditions at the end of the month will see most of these birds move on, though given more benign weather they may be back. It appeared that Gadwall numbers might break previous records soon, but there is issue with any of our counts as the time taken to get between the lakes means that some lake hopping may take place. One thing is for certain: they ain't hopping to the Basin–whatever Wanstead Golf Club have done to the lake means that its of no interest to virtually anything.
Continuing freezing conditions may mean that the Roding could be inviting to sawbills, which brings me to Mr Messenger. Mike has done the park since he was a nipper, never the flats, but once a week he routinely does his circuit and you know if you haven't bumped into him recently he will grip you off over some bird or other, when he gets round to it or remembers it. He says he now is a mobile phone owner, but has no idea how to use it so leaves it home. No use to us Mike! On this occasion, and after about 20 minutes, he remembers seeing a Goosander on Heronry, last week, but can't remember actually when. With help from Irish Mick they narrow it down to a day I had done the park, apparently too late for Goosander-goodness. He also had a Great White Egret coming in low and seemingly looking to land, also on Heronry. This was back in September. I didn't bother trying to get him to be a little less vague with a date. Also a Stonechat which frequented the Old Sewage Works and behind the tea-hut, which I reckon must have been while I was in Shetland. So good work Mr M, but please learn how to use the mobile!
Our other new bird for the month was a briefly visiting female Merlin, which appeared over Heronry (mistake) before being chased off patch by a singular minded crow. This is our fourth bird since 2009–3 females and one male and not one of them has stuck around–but this is the one I should have taken a picture of, but initially I had to identify it and then just got engrossed as was chased over Capel Road and then low across Manor Park Cemetery. Turn the clock back a week or so and my attempts at identifying a raptor flying down the main ride in Bush Wood left me more perplexed than anything. Without a single wing beat the bird glided above the ride and then stopped dead. I had presumed Common Buzzard, but the tail suggested a slight fork. Its overall appearance was dark and the way it expertly used the wind meant not only did it not flap its wings, but didn't extend its primaries. Way too late for a Black Kite I would have thought, but searching the RBA website I have found almost yearly records for birds in November and December (though most were probables!), including Paul Davies' bird from 2010 on the 20th October. Yay! another FUp.
Moving on: just the one Short-eared owl at the beginning of the month, no Peregrines (weird) and a handful of Buzzards. More luck with Woodcock (3) and Tony's Jack Snipe became my Jack Snipe, became Sean Kerrigan's Jack Snipe, became a dead Jack Snipe coinciding with its visit to Belgrave Road.
The Stonechat appeared on a couple of occasions and could still be there, still there too is the Treecreeper in Bush Wood (stay until January please!), and of course the Firecrest are getting harder to pin down.
Thanks to Tony for giving me the gen on Common Gull 2ASL, a Pitsea ringed bird making its return to the flats this year–last given any attention last December.
I could say that most of the Little Grebe have disappeared bar the couple on the Roding, but with ponds frozen this is to be expected. It's now December and the duvet on my sofa is a siren and unless a flock of Lapwing plop passed my window I am with the lotus eaters.
Wanstead Flats: Chaffinch by the looks of things!
Wanstead Flats and Park: It looks like the records have been deleted from the London Bird Club site–I suspect we aren't missing much
Wanstead Flats: 250+ Woodpigeon s, 40+ Fieldfare, Redwing, 17 Chaffinch, 9 Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest, 2 Skylark, 6 Meadow Pipit, 1-2 Snipe, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 9 Teal, 3 Shoveler, 32 Gadwall, 7 Tufted Duck (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 50 Wigeon, 193 Gadwall, 44 Shoveler, 4 Teal, 3 Little Egret, Kingfisher, 10 Little Grebe, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Redpoll (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: Short-eared Owl (Bob Vaughan)
Wanstead Park & Flats: Firecrest in Bush Wood, Little Egret on Heronry, c80 Gadwall, c20 Wigeon, c15 Teal, 20 Egyptian Goose on ponds (James Heal); Woodcock from Long Wood (Bob Vaughan); Reed Bunting (Tony Brown)
Wanstead Flats: 34 Gadwall, 11 Shoveler, 13 Teal, 2 Pochard, 6 Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, 6 Pied Wagtail, Reed Bunting, 2 Kestrel (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 215 Gadwall, 40 Wigeon, 34 Shoveler, 14 Teal, 12 Tufted Duck, Water Rail, 2 Little Egret, 6 Little Grebe, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 170+ Black-headed Gull, 12+ Goldcrest, Redwing, Common Buzzard (Nick Croft)
Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: Woodcock flushed from edge of gorse near Hollow Pond early morning, Treecreeper, 14 Fieldfare over, 300+ Woodpigeon S at dawn, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, 300+ Starling SW at dawn, Skylark over, Little Egret on Hollow Pond (Stuart Fisher)
Wanstead Flats: 8 Shoveler, 9 Teal, 15 Gadwall, Little Egret (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 2 Redwing, 45 Wigeon, 16 Teal, 30 Shoveler, 320 Gadwall, 2 Pochard, 2 Kingfisher, Little Egret, Grey Wagtail, 4 Goldcrest (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: Jack Snipe, Stonechat, 500+ Common Gull, 19 Shoveler, 24 Gadwall, 16 Teal, 11 Tufted Duck, Pochard, 2 Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Kestrel, 50+ House Sparrow, 8 Linnet, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Goldcrest (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 30 Fieldfare (Bob Vaughan)
Leyton Flats/ Hollow Ponds: 3 Goldcrests, Meadow Pipit and Little Egret. (Simon Worsfold)
Wanstead Flats: 1200+ Starling west, 180+ Fieldfare, 54 Redwing, 11 Linnet, 5 Reed Bunting, 46 Gadwall, 9 Shoveler, 11 Teal, 8 Tufted Duck, 2 Meadow Pipit, Skylark (Tony Brown/James Heal/Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 40+ Wigeon, 229 Gadwall, 19 Shoveler, 30+ Teal, 2 Pochard, 15+ Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, 3 Little Egret, 10+ Goldcrest, Chiffchaff (Nick Croft/James Heal)
Wanstead Flats: WeBS 106 Mallard, 38 Gadwall, 15 Shoveler, 11 Teal, 19 Egyptian Goose, 17 Tufted Duck, 1 f Pochard, 410+ Common Gull, 123 Black-headed Gull, Kingfisher, 5 Meadow Pipit, 2 Grey Wagtail, 5 Pied Wagtail, 6+ Skylark, Reed Bunting, 2 Linnet, 2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 3 Goldcrest (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 3 Firecrest, 6 Goldcrest (Bush Wood) raptor gliding east with closed fingers on wing, hung for a few seconds then moved on, dark with no obvious underwing structure, but a slightly forked tail (too late surely for Black Kite!) (Nick Croft); WeBS 299 Gadwall, 49 Wigeon, 37 Teal (new record), 38 Shoveler (Tim Harris/WREN Group)
Wanstead Flats: 36 Gadwall, 14 Shoveler, 11 Teal, 10 Pied Wagtail, 2 Meadow Pipit, 4 Skylark, 400+ Starling, 2 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Goldcrest (Nick Croft)
Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: 4 Fieldfare over, Redwing, 15 Siskin W, 14 Gadwall, 2 Pochard, Shoveler, Treecreeper, 10+ Goldcrest (Stuart Fisher)
Wanstead Flats: Stonechat still, Redpoll, 2 Meadow Pipit, 5 Skylark, dead Jack Snipe found on Belgrave Road (Nick Croft)
Snaresbrook Crown Court: Woodcock (Stuart Fisher)
Wanstead Park: 61 Wigeon (new record for site), 154 Gadwall, 19 Teal, 16 Shoveler, 30 Tufted Duck, 2 Grey Wagtail (Rob Sheldon)
Wanstead Flats: 34 Gadwall, 17 Shoveler, 10 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Meadow Pipit (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 340 Gadwall, 50+ Wigeon, 35 Shoveler, 21 Teal, 31 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Egret, 11 Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Sparrowhawk, 2 ad Great Crested Grebe (Nick Croft) Goosander (Mike Messenger)
Wanstead Flats: 9 Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, 3 Common Pochard, 2 Kestrel (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 50+ Wigeon, 200+ Gadwall, 37 Shoveler, 16 Teal, Little Egret, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail (Bob Vaughan)
Wanstead Flats: 40 Gadwall, 15 Shoveler, 5 Teal, 6 Tufted Duck, 3 Reed Bunting, 40+ Goldfinch, Kestrel (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 45-60 Wigeon, 268 Gadwall, 29 Shoveler, 30 Teal, Little Egret, Grey Wagtail, 25+ Goldfinch (James Heal/Bob Vaughan)
Wanstead Flats: 16 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler, 8 Teal, 8 Tufted Duck, f Pochard, 2 Great Black-backed Gull, Kestrel (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 280+ Gadwall, 40+ Wigeon, 40 Shoveler, 31 Teal, 11 Tufted Duck, 3 Little Egret, 11+ Goldcrest, Sparrowhawk, 2 Little Grebe, Grey Wagtail (Nick Croft/Mike Messenger)
Snaresbrook Crown Court: Firecrest around front of court first heard in woods east of Annex, Grey Wagtail (Stuart Fisher)
Wanstead Flats: 6 Reed Bunting, 5 Skylark. 12 Teal (Tony Brown); Stonechat, Great Black-backed Gull (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 2 Nuthatch, Treecreeper, 3 Coal Tit, 12 Goldcrest, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Little Egret, 6 Grey Heron, 3 Little Grebe, up to 467 Gadwall, 35 Shoveler, 34 Wigeon, 13 Teal, 18 Tufted Duck, 4 Stock Dove (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: f Merlin mobbed by crow south over Alex towards Manor Park, 2 Kestrel, 2-3 Sparrowhawk, Reed Bunting, 25 Gadwall, 19 Shoveler, 14 Teal, 3 Pochard, 13 Tufted Duck (Nick Croft) Common Buzzard (Jono Lethbridge)
Wanstead Park: 4 Water Rail, 3 Little Egret, 253 Gadwall, 22 Shoveler, 24 Wigeon, 15 Teal, 20 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, 2 Grey Wagtail, Siskin, 7 Goldcrest. 2 Nuthatch, Common Buzzard, Kestrel (Nick Croft/BobVaughan)
Wanstead Flats: several Reed Bunting, Siskin, 6 Linnet, Kestrel, 2 Goldcrest, 10+ Gadwall, 2 Teal, 5+ Shoveler, f Pochard, 3 Tufted Duck (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan/Sean Kerrigan)
Wanstead Park: 5 Little Egret, Great Crested Grebe, Kingfisher, 6 Goldcrest, Firecrest (Bush Wood), 150+ Gadwall, 16 Wigeon, 10+ Shoveler, 3 Teal (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)
Hollow/Eagle Ponds (Leyton Flats): 20 + Gadwall, 3 Shoveler, Teal, m Pochard, 20 + Tufted Duck, 3 Great Crested Grebe, Nuthatch, 5 Goldcrest (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Flats: 4 Reed Bunting, 2 Meadow Pipit, 20 Shoveler, 10+ Gadwall, 10+ Tufted Duck, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 2 Goldcrest, Fieldfare, Redwing, singing Mistle Thrush (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)
Wanstead Park: 5 Little Egret, 2 Water Rail, Kingfisher, 2 Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, 2 singing Mistle Thrush, 4 Goldcrest, m Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, 90+ Gadwall, 20 Wigeon, 6 Teal, 10 Shoveler, 25 Tufted Duck (Nick Croft)