12 April 2017


Currently we are enjoying the worst start of any year that I can recall, can we blame the destruction brought against the best birding sites by the CoLC?  Of course we can, but its probably only a small factor in the poor showing of birds.  The lack of feet on the ground is the overriding problem, having said that there have been very few birds in the 'raised earth' areas, but at least it takes much less time to realise that–we can now survey the best birding areas in a fraction of the time it used to!

Meanwhile, thanks to a missing person in the area, tracts of the park have been wacked in the ongoing search.  This is the only time that dogs might have had any use and presumably they used them, so presumably the person  is not missing there!

It looks like Stu had the best of the month, with a Caspian Gull on the 3rd and a Waxwing on the 19th, while not included any more on our year list, they are included in the Wanstead 2000 Bio Survey.

The bread eating monster lingered on Jubilee (Red Crested Pochard) until the 3rd at least and the smart male Wigeon on Shoulder of Mutton till the 5th, otherwise Gadwall numbers never came back and for the rest it was as you were from February.  A few Shelduck made it on to the list by the end of the month.

Tony scored the first London Wheatear, its been a few year's since we last won this accolade on the 11th and by the end of the month we had a bout 10 birds through, with 4 reported by Marco on the 18th.  Stonechats had a good passage with 9 birds reported by Tony on the 4th and a smart rubicola form on the 25th.

Chiffies were singing from the middle of the month, joined by Blackcap and the first Willow Warbler by the 29th, a Rook the same day helped to give some respectability to a rather disappointing March.

A few Red Kite, too few, 3 actually, by month's end were the raptor highlights.  April has a lot to make up for, let's hope the expectancy is rewarded!


Wanstead Flats: Red-crested Pochard
still, 8 Pochard, 31 Tufted Duck, 11 Shoveler, 6 Gadwall, 3 Teal, c230 Black-headed Gull, c750 Common Gull, 9 Herring Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, Peregrine Falcon, Sparrowhawk, 3 Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, 4 Reed Bunting, Goldcrest (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Wigeon, 28 Teal, 6 Gadwall, 39 Shoveler, 8 Tufted Duck, pr of Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Grebe, 2-3 Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, 3 Goldcrest, Nuthatch, singing Stock Dove (Nick Croft)


Leyton Flats: Woodcock outside back of Court at 13.30 (Stuart Fisher)


Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: Caspian Gull 2nd cy on Eagle Pond early afternoon, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Fieldfare (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead Flats: 9 Stonechat
(something of a record for these parts), 10 Meadow Pipit (Tony Brown); 21 Meadow Pipit including the first songster of the year, 7 Skylark (3 singing), Reed Bunting, 23 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 5 Gadwall, f Teal, 9 Shoveler (no sign Red-crested Pochard), 13+ Herring Gull, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Firecrest (Reservoir Wood), 2 singing Goldcrest, Coal Tit, 9 Teal, m Wigeon, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe (James Heal)


Wanstead Flats: 3 Stonechat, 14 Meadow Pipit, 3 singing Skylark, 2 Reed Bunting, c40 Herring Gull, 4 Teal, 6 Gadwall, 6 Shoveler, 14 Tufted Duck, 5 Pochard, 3 Little Grebe, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 32 Shoveler, m Wigeon, 2 Gadwall (Bob Vaughan); Peregrine Falcon over stables, Kingfisher, singing Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Meadow Pipit north, 9 Teal, 6 Gadwall, 4 Little Grebe (Nick Croft)


Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: Firecrest heard near Leyton Flats car park early morning (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead Flats: Northern Wheatear (m) London year-1st (Tony Brown, Jonathan Lethbridge)


Wanstead Flats: 36 Meadow Pipit (a ground patch record for me), 6 Skylark, 4 Chiffchaff, 1 Reed Bunting, 2 Teal, 7 Shoveler, 9 Gadwall, 4 Pochard, 16 Tufted Duck, 4 Little Grebe (James Heal)

Wanstead Park: 1 Chiffchaff (Bob Vaughan); 5 Gadwall, 49 Shoveler, 13 Teal, 19 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe, 1 Little Egret (Tim Harris and the WeBS count surveyors from the Wren group)


Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: Firecrest, Goldcrest, 24 Redwing, singing m Reed Bunting, 4 Great Crested Grebe (1 pr Eagle & 1 pr Hollow Pond), 14 Shoveler, 15 Gadwall (Stuart Fisher)


Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: Siskin S, m Blackcap briefly in subsong, 2 Coal Tit, 8 Song Thrush, singing m Reed Bunting on Leyton Flats, 5 Great Crested Grebe (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead Flats: 4 singing Chiffchaff, Stonechat, 5 Linnet, Redpoll, 2 Reed Bunting, 10 Meadow Pipit (2 singing), 3 singing Skylark, 2 Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 2 Teal, 4 Gadwall, 10 Shoveler (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 2 Red Kite, Buzzard, 10 Teal, 4 Gadwall, 10+ Meadow Pipit north, 5 singing Chiffchaff, Siskin, Little Egret, Coal Tit (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 2 m Wheatear, Fieldfare, 6 Song Thrush, 6 Meadow Pipit, 4 Skylark, 2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 4 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler, Little Grebe, 4 Linnet (Nick Croft/Rob Sheldon)


Wanstead Flats: 4 Wheatear (Marco Johnson); 3 singing Meadow Pipit, 3 singing Skylark (James Heal)

Wanstead Park: singing Blackcap (Rob Sheldon)


Snaresbrook: Waxwing over at around 7.45, Treecreeper calling, 3 Siskin S, Redwing (Stuart Fisher)


Forest Gate:
several House Sparrow colonies between Sebart Road and Capel Road on south side of Wanstead Flats (Harry Harrison)


Wanstead Flats:
3 singing Chiffchaff, singing Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, pr of Stock Dove, 14 Shoveler, 3 Teal, 8 Gadwall, Pochard, 4 Little Grebe (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 3 singing Blackcap, 4 singing Chiffchaff, 18 Shoveler, 17 Teal, 6 Gadwall, 12 Tufted Duck, pr Great Crested Grebe, 3 Little Grebe, 2 Stock Dove, Nuthatch, 4 Redwing (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: Male Stonechat - Rubicola
(Tony Brown)



Wanstead Flats:
5 singing Chiffchaff, 3 singing Skylark, 9 Meadow Pipit (4 singing), pr of Kestrel, 40+ Herring Gull, 13 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler, 2 Teal, 5 Pochard, 10+ Tufted Duck, 3 Little Grebe (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 7 singing Chiffchaff, 2 singing Blackcap, 2 Coal Tit, 2 Mistle Thrush, 3 Stock Dove, Kestrel, 2 Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk one displaying and another later, 11 Tufted Duck, 38 Shoveler, 16 Teal, 5 Gadwall, 2 Little Grebe (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats:
20+ Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, 4 singing Blackcap, 6 Chiffchaff, 8 Gadwall, 3 Little Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Linnet (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Rook,
4 Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Meadow Pipit, Fieldfare (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: singing Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, 2 Teal, 2 Shoveler, 2 Little Grebe (Bob Vaughan/Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: f Wheatear


Wanstead Flats: 2 Shelduck
(Bob Vaughan), 4 Reed Bunting, Linnet, 3 Meadow Pipit, 27 Mute Swan, 2 Gadwall, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)

10 April 2017

Muddy little ringos

Not often nowadays that I need to put anything on the blog, nothing exciting appears to be happening. Today things changed for the better with Bob nailing the first returning Lesser Whitethroat in the SSSI, though Tim thinks it might have been there yesterday, quickly followed by Sean K reporting a Common Whitethroat in the Old Sewage Works.  I chipped in with a stunning male Redstart in the remaining scrub east of Alex, which showed briefly then not at all.  Always the same with the first bird, always a bit of an arse.

A good day to clear up a few migrants then, which I duly did–first in the OSW, which took me into the parkHeronry has been drying out for months and the exposed mud has looked for waders, but this is the park of low expectations so I nearly missed the Little Ringed Plover,  surprised to find a second, and frankly gob-smacked to find a third.

Rare spring passage migrant, occasionally seen on the banks of Alexandra Lake in March or April. The most recent records were on April 1st 2013, on Police Scrape, of a female that stayed for almost a week, and of 2 birds over Long Wood on 12th May that year. 2 juvenile birds reported on the 29th June, 2015 flushed from the shore of Alex

2 March 2017

Escape from February

While I wait for anything, anything at all, on the London bird news front, just time for a quick look back on February–officially the most hated month on the planet.  With staggering few reports this shouldn't take long.

The big news this month was the City of London Corporation's revenge on the flats which had had the audacity to evolve nicely over the last 40 years. They consulted with the environment's greatest ally–The Countryside Alliance Buzzard Killing Natural England to come up with a plan to trash all that was good in the name of amenity.  They also had a new toy they'd been itching to give a run out, which rips as it shreds as it bulldozes, which has left gaping wounds all over the (formerly) best birding sites.

On a brighter note four new species were added to the year list, which makes this one of the less awful Februaries and a fair to middling start to the year.

  • Short-staying Pheasant sets up stampede to the Old Sewage Works
  • Another Lapwing
  • Flock of geese defy identification
  • Adult Mediterranean Gull, though not Valentino, 
  • First adult Yellow-legged Gull for over a year
  • Bread eating monster duck (Red-crested Pochard) moves in on Jub
  • First returning Stonechat, and our wintering bird takes its leave

Whre the hell have all our Gadwall gone to, we should have hundreds but some days its hard enough to get into double figures.  Shoveler are on the up, Teal holding steady and there is even a male Wigeon pottering around Shoulder of Mutton, but Gadwall AWOL.

A good month for Meadow Pipit with a high of 21 recorded at the end of the month and even 11 Skylark noted near the Alex one day.  Bad though for Redpoll and Siskin with only singles seen, and even the Linnet have appeared to move on.  Well thankfully it's Wheatear time and everything else becomes irrelevant.


Wanstead Flats: singing Skylark, 3 Linnet, Reed Bunting, Stonechat, 26 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 29 Shoveler, 8 Gadwall, 3 Teal, singing Song Thrush, Ruby Tiger caterpillar (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 48 Shoveler, 28 Teal, 17 Gadwall, 19 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe, 2 Little Egret, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, singing Song and Mistle Thrush, singing Stock Dove, Kestrel, and Eel in Ornamental Waters (Nick Croft/Sean Kerrigan)


Wanstead Flats: 7 Skylark, 2 Redwing, 5 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, 3 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck - Sadly the City of London Corporation has been clearing more habitat, supposedly to create more acid grassland (which it won't), it will severely impact ground- and low-nesting birds. Shouldn't effect migrants if we get any, but overall it is very depressing (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 14 Linnet, 2 Reed Bunting, Stonechat, 2 Redwing, 16 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 2 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler, Teal (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: m Pheasant in paddock for 3rd day, Kingfisher (Sean Kerrigan); 8 Goldcrest, Great Crested Grebe, 16 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 4 Teal, 14 Tufted Duck (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Park: Pheasant in OSW Paddock (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: WeBS - 593 Common Gull, 206 Black-headed Gull, 22 Mute Swan, 60 Greylag Goose, 221 Canada Goose, 77 Mallard, 18 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, 6 Pochard, 15 Tufted Duck, 84 Coot, 36 Moorhen, also 11 Skylark, 19 Meadow Pipit, 7 Reed Bunting, 3 Goldcrest, 3 Redwing, Stonechat (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Pheasant still in paddock, 22 Redwing (Rob Sheldon); Wigeon, Coal Tit (Tim Harris); Peregrine (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: 3 Skylark, 4 Meadow Pipit, 4 Reed Bunting, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 15 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 3 Teal, 20 Tufted Duck, 13 Herring Gull, Little Grebe (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: singing Siskin, Goldcrest, 4 Stock Dove, Kingfisher, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Egret, 7 Gadwall, 33 Shoveler, Teal, 11 Tufted Duck (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Lapwing, 18 Meadow Pipit, 7 Skylark (2 singing), 2 Reed Bunting, Stonechat, Little Egret, 4 Pochard, 10+ Tufted Duck, 15 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, 2 Teal, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, c700 Common Gull (Nick Croft/Rob Sheldon/Sean Kerrigan)


Wanstead Flats: 3 singing Skylark, 3 singing Song Thrush, singing Mistle Thrush, Reed Bunting, 3 Pochard, 4 Tufted Duck, 4 Gadwall, 15 Shoveler, 6 Teal, Little Grebe (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 12 Shoveler, 10 Teal, 10 Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, 4 Little Grebe, Goldcrest, 6 singing Song Thrush, singing Blackbird (Nick Croft)


Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: m Tawny Owl (Gilberts Slade) at dawn, Treecreeper, 7 Egyptian Geese, 34 Gadwall, 18 Shoveler, Grey Wagtail, Great Crested Grebe, 6 singing Song Thrush (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead Flats: 21 unidentified grey geese going high NW over Bush Wood, 6 Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, 14 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 3 Gadwall (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park (Bush Wood): 2 Goldcrest, 2 Coal Tit, singing Stock Dove (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Mediterranean Gull (Tony Brown); 2 Skylark on Police Scrape (James Heal).


Wanstead Flats: 1 adult Mediterranean Gull still on Western Flats (Bob Vaughan and James Heal); 1 female Red-crested Pochard on Jubilee pond (Jonathan Lethbridge)


Wanstead Flats: adult Yellow-legged Gull, 10+ Herring Gull, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, no sign Med, f Red-crested Pochard still on Jubilee, 32 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 7 Gadwall, 19 Shoveler, Little Grebe, 21 Meadow Pipit, 9 singing Skylark incl 2 singing, 5 Reed Bunting, 5 Redwing, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 49 Shoveler, 16 Teal, 5 Gadwall, Wigeon, 2 Pochard, 10 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, 6 Redwing (Nick Croft)

26 February 2017

The Chaos after the Storm

It's February so all is slow and dull. Waking-up on Saturday there is a tweet from early-bird Tony - "Mediterranean Gull on Alex. Flew to football pitches". Impetus to wash and dress (it is still winter) and get out there, our regular Med. gull "Valentino" has gone AWOL so a good shout. OK, I take the car to be quick, and within about 30 minutes I'm going through the nearest large gull flock to Alex. Plenty of Black-headed in there but....so on to the rest of the scattered flocks on the pitch. Back to Alex. One thousand exciting Common Gulls and a few hundred good looking Black-heads later I phone Tony. It had flown west and settled. I widened my search circle and even did the Brick-pit and southern area! Nada. Tony comes back and Jono appears and we discuss the state of the known universe for a while.

I confessed to having used the car and offered Jono a lift back, however he eschewed this kindness and set-off on his prime mission to get some bread from Wild Goose in Leytonstone.  Inevitably he found the Mediterranean gull miles away on the Western flats football pitches and I missed his phone call. About 30 minutes later I was out there, quite close to where I live, giving the assorted gulls a somewhat over zealous grilling. It had gone, I checked every single gull diligently, it was great fun. Anyway 10,000 steps done.

The very next day I decided to revisit the Western flats football pitches, and there at the back was indeed the gull strutting it's stuff in a cocky sort of way

it then flew as a tractor approached

but settled again to allow a reasonable approach

Sorted finally, so off to get the Sunday paper, relax and put my feet up. Sadly the Observer was full of Robert Mercer, a very right-wing plutocrat who has effectively engineered the Brexit and Trump disasters through media manipulation. Apologies, but you need to be aware of this, the environment is more important than money generation for the few.

Meanwhile Jono had been out and discovered a toy female Red-Crested Pochard on the highly artificial Jubilee pond! I had promised, and did, take my family to see the top twenty local wildlife photographs exhibited in the Temple in Wanstead Park. It was organised by the WREN group and was excellent. On getting back I had thirty minutes of freedom. I walked! This gave me five minutes to walk around the pond avoiding the bread chuckers. No RCP visible. It had clearly taken one look at the porridge that is Jubilee and as any self-respecting wild bird would, had set-off for um pastures greener. Or not. Tony found it when he visited.

At just after 16-00 I maneged to escape, took the car and lo, this time even I couldn't miss it.

It continued on it's way parading for the three groups of bread-chuckers about the pond at 16-20 on a Sunday in February.

It is not yet Spring and we had a bit of a storm and I was chasing all over the place. Loads of steps accumulated, but I need to get into training for what is to come, or perhaps get the bird first time?