8 August 2017

June/July 2017: Dead and buried


I refer to the birding Hades that is summer, but equally I could be talking about the blog, which just about remains on life support waiting for someone to pull the plug.

Not brilliant for birds, but pretty good on the butterfly side of things with a record number of Brown Argus found in the old sewage works, a couple of Clouded Yellow sightings, the first White-letter Hairstreak (a lifer for me at least) for many a year, and a Marbled White sighting in the park (becoming annual) in addition to Purple Hairstreaks that appear in the oaks at this time of year.

  • Cetti's still present till 6th  June at least
  • Singing Cuckoo on the 10th June in the park
  • Little Ringed Plover on Alex on the 25th June
  • Common Redstart on the 2nd July
  • Common Sandpiper on the 8th July on Perch
  • First returning Northern Wheatear on the 20th July 
  • A couple of tern sightings during the month
  • First returning Swallow on the 30th July
Perch's Great Crested Grebe failed as the small young was quickly gobbled by a marauding Lesser Black-backed Gull, but 2 young Little Grebe were seen on the pond at the same time, but probably from elsewhere.  Little Grebe were back on Heronry by the end of the period, but it's probably a bit late for a nesting attempt there.  Meanwhile on Shoulder of Mutton and Alex breeding looks poor compared with previous years.  It is also not clear if the Reed Warbler were successful on the former lake, though 2 birds singing were reported on 2 occasions in July.

It has been a good year for the swans with broods on Alex, Perch and Heronry though the Jubilee young disappeared.  Mallard have seemingly done well but there is no sign of any other duck species having attempted breeding, while numbers of Egyptian Goose were up to 30 birds on the flats by the end of the period with a few 1w birds in their numbers—again it is not clear where these birds have come from. 

We should have had a pick up in the numbers of Kestrel about the place, but again it looks like failure has hit these birds, Hobby sightings are down again and it looks like they have not attempted to breed on site.  On the other hand Sparrowhawk young have been heard from Manor Park Cemetery and adults with food have been seen flying in that direction. A few Kite sightings have increased the months in which they have been seen, and while Bob has yet to record a Buzzard a number were seen during the period.

The large gull creche continued through June and July with the first returning Black-headed Gull boosting their numbers (very few young birds with them) and including a couple of adult Common Gull.  A few brave souls tried to extract young Yellow-leggeds in the melee with varying amounts of success, I am not even going there!

The end of July usually sees the first returning warblers from the north, however with so little coverage this year it wasn't until the first weekend in August that any numbers of Willow Warbler (and a couple of Garden Warbler) were noted.  A lone Reed Warbler in the brooms was the most exciting warbler action in the period apart from the Cetti's still being present on the Roding at the beginning of June.

Hooray! It's now August and we can expect the return of the weekend birders (with me added to that number if and when I can get cover to look after me mum), so anything can happen:  Pied and Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Whinchat, Wheatear, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Wryneck and the special one yet to be found....



Wanstead Flats: 2 Common Buzzard, pr Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 5 House Martin, 10+ Swift, 5+ Little Grebe, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 singing Skylark, singing Meadow Pipit, Coal Tit, medium sized bat having a drink before going back to roost (I suspect Daubenton's), Painted Lady (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Reed Warbler, 2 House Martin, 20+ Swift, 5 Whitethroat, 3 Painted Lady (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 3 Gadwall, Pochard, 5 Little Grebe, 100+ Herring Gull, Skylark, Linnet, House Martin, Swift (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Peregrine Falcon tiercel, 20+ Swift, 2 House Martin, Cetti's Warbler, 5 Whitethroat, newly fledged Chiffchaff family, Little Egret, 2 Little Grebe (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Family of  Lesser Whitethroat


Wanstead Park: singing Cuckoo early morning (Sally Hammond); 2 Grey Wagtail (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, 5 House Martin, 10+ Swift (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 8+ Whitethroat (including fledged young), 3 Nuthatch, Little Egret, flyover Great Crested Grebe, 4 Little Grebe, Black-headed Gull, Little Egret, Kingfisher, Reed Bunting, 3 House Martin, 20 + Swift, Grey Wagtail - dawn chorus walk for WREN Group bio-blitz weekend 05:00 (Nick Croft/Tim Harris)


Wanstead Flats: 1 Little Ringed Plover (Tony Brown)



Wanstead Flats: f/juv Common Redstart (Tony Brown, Bob Vaughan); juv Yellow-legged Gull (Tony Brown, James Heal); 4 Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Sand Martin, Red Kite (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: 3 Skylark, m Reed Bunting, 50+ Black-headed Gull, 100 + Herring Gull, 20 + Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1st summer Yellow-legged Gull, Sparrowhawk, 20 Swift, 10+ House Martin (up to 5 nest sites), Clouded Yellow (Nick Croft/James Heal)

Wanstead Park: Common Sandpiper (first returning bird of the autumn on Perch) 2 singing Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat (alarm calling to family group), Great Crested Grebe on nest, 2 pairs of Little Grebe, Little Egret, Kingfisher, Nuthatch (Nick Croft/James Heal)


Wanstead Flats: Red Kite, 1-2 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, singing Meadow Pipit, Skylark, 2 juv Willow Warbler, 10 + Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, 20 + Swift, 10 House Martin, Little Grebe on nest, 50+ Black-headed Gull (4 youngsters), 2 Common Gull (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Great Crested Grebe with 1 chick, 4 Little Grebe (2 young), Little Egret, Kingfisher, 50 + Swift, 3 House Martin, White-letter Hairstreak (Nick Croft/KathyHartnett)


Wanstead Flats: 3 Skylark, m Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 10 House Martin, 20 + Swift (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 2 singing Reed Warbler, 7 Whitethroat, Little Egret, 4 ad Little Grebe, 3 Great Crested Grebe (1 chick), Sparrowhawk, 30 + Swift, 5 House Martin, Migrant Hawker, 6+ Brown Argus in Old Sewage Works (both first for the year) (Nick Croft/TimHarris)


Wanstead Flats: Early returning N Wheatear dropped in 09-15 before rain shower! 4 Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipit, 4 Green Woodpecker (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Park: Hobby, 3 Sand Martin, several immature House Martin, Common Tern (Tim Harris)


Wanstead Flats: Common Tern on Jubilee Pond (Tony Brown)


Wanstead Flats: first returning Swallow of the autumn, Sand Martin, 10 + House Martin, 8 Swift, Reed Warbler, 1-2 Lesser Whitethroat, 20 + Whitethroat (Brooms/Alex area), 6 Skylark, 1 juv + 1 ad Little Grebe, 100+ Black-headed Gull, Hobby, 2 Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

2 June 2017

Let's kick May into touch

Ah! a contemporary play on words–that would be good news and with Trump trying to consign the US to the fossil age and threatening the world with his crass, blinkered, stupidity god knows we need some good news. On the plus side most of America's state and city leaders think his policies are turd and are going alone with their renewable push.

Its been poop on the patch as well with just the one new bird Common Tern added on the 1st, however things might have panned out differently with a report of a Bee-eater over the park on the 2nd immediately panned by all of us–annoying if not true and even more annoying if genuine. The report by a non birder came in the form of a short description and the request of ID help. Ring-necked Parakeet?  Turaco?  These were known to the observer and so reluctantly I suggested he look at Bee-eater: "That's the fella!" was his reply.

The second might have been was the report of Grasshopper Warbler reeling by the tea-hut on the 16th. I know I passed by the tea-hut that day and I know Mike M was also in the park so hopefully he will know the truth of the matter–I may have to wait to next year for him to remember to tell me. I've seen him on a few occasions this year and it was only on the last meeting that he told me of Bullfinch he'd seen in the OSW in January.

Marco J thought he may have had a Great White Egret over Alex on the 7th but couldn't nail it.

Finally a report of a Honey Buzzard over Romford on the 12th coming our way had me waiting down by the Roding, just in case. I did see something, coming from the right direction and in the right timeframe, which could easily have been it as it glided, low, but unfortunately well to the north of me.

So basically a crappy month!

Migrant wise: Wheatear's stuck around till the 16th, Willow Warbler singers dropped to just the usual two and even by the end of the month the one in the SSSI was singing less frequently and adding chiffy flourishes to the end of his song. A Sedge Warbler reported by the chuckle brothers on Alex on the 17th turned into a Reed Warbler when I got there, talking of which just the one bird is on the Shoulder of Mutton.  It's favoured reed bed is in a terrible state and we should have pulled all the dead stuff out in the spring. A further bird was singing by the Roding on the 16th where the Cetti's was heard being a bit more enthusiastic until it probably gave up by the end of the month.

Just the one Garden Warbler report, again Long Wood, so another to add to the lost breeding birds list under the care of the City of London Corporation. Preliminary reports suggest: Lesser Whitethroat down, Whitethroat down, Chiffchaff down–all thanks to this year's destruction and continuing removal of scrub over the last few years.

In the park the breeding season is a calamity on Heronry, Perch and the Ornamentals: Heronry dried up as plans to pump water suffered a pump failure–we pointed out this was an opportunity to do some creative management of the pond to create islands and reed beds.  The Corp. ummmed-and aahed and then said great idea, just as the water start lapping at the pond's apron. Perch on the other hand has now been hit with a blue-green algae problem and is virtually stagnant.  Lucky they didn't put the fish from Heronry in there then! Oh, wait they did!

Meanwhile the ornamentals wait for any water to come from Perch–suspended to stop the spread of invasive pond weed.  All-on-all not good for birds: I've only seen 1 duckling, no Great-crested Grebe (a pair on the basin, but fuck all else since they cleared the weed out–again why??) and Little Grebe confined to the Basin, Shoulder of Mutton and Alex. On the plus side Tawny Owl chicks have been vocal in reservoir wood, but you wouldn't know that as my chums have now created a Whatsapp chat group with very little making it to Twitter.

Back to migrants: A few Swallow noted, but with very reports coming in at all (see below) this is an incomplete picture, the House Martin finally came back, with a high of 10+ birds on the 16th, subsequently down to around 6 seen collecting mud–we will know more about their numbers when we check the nest site.

On the flats there's been very little action with the pipits and larks with no food carrying happening and birds still singing and chasing each other. Whether Linnet (could be 2 pairs) are breeding is another open question, while Reed Bunting are also letting on whether they are at it or over it!

Hobby sightings peaked at the beginning of the month and none at the end, though a couple of Red Kite over Jono's garden were a plus.

I don't think June or July will do much to shift the air of despondency, roll on August.


Wanstead Flats:
4 Wheatear, 3 Common Tern, Rook, 2 Willow Warbler, House Martin, Sand Martin, 4+ Swift, Hobby, pair of Reed Bunting (Wanstead Birding)


Wanstead Flats: f Wheatear
, 6 Swallow, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 pair of Linnet, 5 Skylark, 4 m Meadow Pipit (Wanstead Birders)

Wanstead Park: Bee-eater reported by one of the locals (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Wheatear f
, 100+ Swift, 14 Swallow, 3 Sand Martin, Willow Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 10 Whitethroat, Yellow Wagtail, 2 Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, pr of Hobby, 3 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Coal Tit, Linnet (Nick Croft); possible Great Egret at 8:25 (Marco Johnson)

Wanstead Park: 2 Little Egret, Kingfisher, 4 Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Nuthatch, 2 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (Nick Croft/James Heal)


Wanstead Flats:
Garden Warbler 2 Yellow Wagtail (Jono Lethbridge), 9 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 7 + Swift, 11 singing Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Meadow Pipit, 6 Tufted Duck (Nick Croft) Tawny Owl young calling in Reservoir Wood (James Heal) yesterday one or more Little Owl in East Copse (Jon Lethbridge)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow Wagtail
, 6 Meadow Pipit (1 still singing), 4 Skylark, 10 + Swallow, 9 House Martin, 30 + Swift, Willow Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Hobby, Kestrel, m Sparrowhawk (Wanstead Birders)

Wanstead Park: Cetti's Warbler still by Roding and singing more than I've heard him before, Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Whitethroat, singing Goldcrest, 2 Little Egret, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Common Buzzard in from north seen off by crows, and possibly the Romford Honey Buzzard over the Roding (right direction and timeframe), 40 +Swift, 6 Swallow, 2 House Martin (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats:
f Wheatear still, 10+ House Martin, 3 Swallow, 20+ Swift, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, 2 singing Meadow Pipit, 3 singing Skylark, Common Buzzard, f Sparrowhawk with prey, Kestrel, 3 Pochard, 4 Tufted Duck, over 240+ Herring Gull of various ages loafing, 20 + Lesser Black-backed Gull (Nick Croft/James Palmer)

Wanstead Park: 2 singing Reed Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, pr of Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, same C Buzzard as above, Little Egret, Stock Dove, 50+ Swift (mostly over Ilford), 2 Little Grebe (Nick Croft/Mike Messenger) Grasshopper Warbler reported singing by tea hut


Wanstead Flats:
Sedge Warbler (Bob Vaughan/Jono Lethbridge) No sign of Sedge Warbler, but Reed Warbler singing on Alex, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, 7 House Martin, 20 + Swift, Peregrine Falcon, 2 singing Meadow Pipit, 3 singing Skylark (Nick Croft)



Wanstead Flats:
4 Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, 4 Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 2 singing Skylark, 60 + Swift, Sand Martin, 6 House Martin, 2 Kestrel, pr of Pochard, pr of Gadwall (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 3 Red Kite, Buzzard (Jono Lethbridge)