31 December 2011

2011 ends with a snivel

You go out one time with your colleagues, a Christmas party they call it. You may have inadvertently had your face licked by some strange woman ....

Needless to say I've felt a bit under par lately.

Thus ends 2011, with a whimper...

Roll on 2012

10 December 2011

Now is Wanstead Park's time to shine

The mornings are dark, my bed is warm, and sometimes I am weak, but I know that if I don't go out, not only will I possibly miss something good, but I will be a real pain in the arse all day at work. But with less than four hours there's not enough time to cover the whole patch.

Luckily the flats are now quiet. The SSSI too dry for Snipe or Woodcock, the birch empty of Redpoll, and the brooms of pipits, larks and finches. That just leaves counting the Shoveler on Alex to see if we can push the record up further (40 suggests my note book for December 1st), or more recently intercepting a large flock of Egyptian Geese that have made a flyway over the Esso garage going north west, somewhere (15 of them yesterday). In conclusion its hard work on the flats now, so its to the park.

With Firecrest at one end and potentially interesting stuff at the other, with the Water Rail in the middle, I have to alternate my daily routes. I should really include the ornamentals at some point just in case. In case of Goosander, Mandarin and other possible goodies, but I don't.

The old sewage works are getting interesting again. Not only are there as many Song Thrush singing as in the spring, but finch numbers are picking up and even Bullfinch are becoming a regular fixture. Here too are not one but two Chiffchaff, still holding out against the prevailing weather and common sense. Having said that we'd probably seen the last of the warblers, I also noted a female Blackcap in Reservoir Wood. What I meant was last year they became a bugger to find, although undoubtedly present, somewhere.

I am still holding out for a Jack Snipe on the muddy bits of the Roding, or muddy bits anywhere, and there are a number of birds missing from last year that still could put in an appearance. Perhaps if it gets really cold. I would prefer really wet, and very windy, and warm.

30 November 2011

The second warmest November on record (apparently). The review

November: A good month despite the lack of winds from any direction other than the south, mild and dry with little in the way of northern bird movement barring Wood Pigeon (from Germany it is said).

The highlights:

Bullfinch(es) finally make it on to the flats

Wigeon long stayer, stays (till 11th) then finally goes

Male Teal displaying on Alex

Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher heard and added to the site list

Med Gull again and again

Woodcocks are back if very elusive

Water Rail return ticket

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker spotted after months of absence

Snow Bunting, London mega anywhere, here on the flats

First of the season's Brambling

Last of the Summer's Chiffchaff and Blackcap(?)

Lapwing record movement

Firecrest (Bush Wood) at last; 2 becomes 4, are there more?

2 Rock Pipit south over Alex

2 Shelduck (west over park)

The highlight for me has to be split between finally catching up with the Firecrest, which are now becoming a bit of a draw although increasingly hard to find, and the Snow Bunting. With reports from localities to the west (Redbridge) and the east (Walthamstow) there was a chance that a flyover bird might call and coincide with me tramping across the flats. Not good odds it has to be said, however I reminded myself of what to listen out for just in case, it had been a month or so since my last SB encounter in Shetland. The weather, too, looked stacked against great views of anything smaller than a large gull.

I had just passed the vismigging spot between Long Wood and the broom fields when I heard an unusual call: trrrrit teu. And again. I finally located the source of the call, a largish bunting flying up from the grass to the east of the centre path. Through the bins it appeared to be just that a largish predominantly grey bunting. I replayed Snow and Lapland for comparison. To me it was clearly the former, but the lack of much white on the individual, that had now disappeared off over the Esso Wood, worried me slightly. Tim texted back over my concerns, saying that first winter females don't show much white. I of course expected much white, but this indicates to me how little I pay attention when observing Snow Bunting. The stand out birds drawing yours eyes to them rather than the dowdier members of flocks. Checking the Collins on my return I could see how the little white on 1wf could have been completely reduced by the light and murk. Subsequently it appears that the Walthamstow bird was a female, whether a first winter is unclear. Also the same or another bird looked to be touring suitable sites in east London, pitching up at Rainham and Crayford later in the month. A picture? The camera was deep in the recesses of my bag to protect it from the damp. So arse!

And so to the rest of the month.


Wanstead Flats: 3 Bullfinch (patch mega - first I've seen here), 17 Goldfinch, 9 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Siskin, 19 Chaffinch, 16 Greenfinch, 6 Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, 110 Redwing, 91 Fieldfare (all west), 16 Song Thrush, 40 Blackbird, 3 Mistle Thrush, 9 Meadow Pipit, 6 Pied Wagtail, 4 Skylark, m Blackcap, Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 100 + Common Gull, 23 Shoveler, 2 Teal, f Wigeon, 1 Wigeon/Teal cross, 7 Gadwall, Red-breasted Goose, Stock Dove, Sparrowhawk (54 sp) (Nick Croft/Tim Harris/Steve Thorpe)


Wanstead Flats: Yellowhammer (07:15-ish: west, presumably to Ally Pally), 2 Reed Bunting, 30 + Goldfinch, 4 Linnet, 28 Fieldfare, 64 Redwing (south west), 5 Song Thrush, 10 Skylark, 12 Meadow Pipit, 3 Pied Wagtail, several thousand Wood Pigeon (south), 3 m Teal, 10 Shoveler, Kestrel (Nick Croft).

Wanstead Park: 2 Chiffchaff, 8 Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 23 Siskin, 9 Linnet, 2 Skylark (north), 23 Redwing (east), 20 Fieldfare (north), 51 Tufted Duck (Heronry/Perch), 16 Pochard (Heronry), 17 Gadwall, Shoveler, 2 Little Grebe, Heron, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft).


Wanstead Flats: 26 Skylark (21 NE), 8 Meadow Pipit, 3 Pied Wagtail, 101 Redwing, 3 Fieldfare, 21 Lesser Redpoll, 21 Goldfinch, 1 Linnet, 3 Goldcrest, 30 Long-tailed Tit, 25 + Shoveler, m Teal, 600 + Wood Pigeon (south), 2 Greater Black-backed Gull (Nick Croft/TimHarris).


Wanstead Flats: Calling Ringed Plover south over flats/Capel point (17:00), Adult Mediterranean Gull (judging by my pictures a different bird from Monday), f Wigeon, 4 Teal (3m), 12 + Shoveler, 7 Egyptian Goose, 30 + Redwing (north west), 22 Fieldfare (west), 10 Song Thrush, 9 Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, 12 Skylark, 2 Lesser Redpoll, Reed Bunting (Nick Croft/J Lethbridge)

Wanstead Park: Woodcock (flushed from the dell (15:30), Water Rail (west end Perch), f Wigeon (Perch), 55 Gadwall, 33 Tufted Duck, 13 Pochard, 3 Teal (2f), 2 Egyptian Goose, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (flying from cemetry to stables, first since c. May), 13 Mistle Thrush, 4 Redwing, 10 + Song Thrush (osw), Kingfisher, 11 + Goldcrest, 2 Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Bullfinch (Old sewage works), 15 Lesser Redpoll, 7+ Siskin, 3 Lttle Grebe, 6 Grey Heron, Stock Dove, Peregrine Falcon (unsuccessfully stooping on a small bird behind the little tea shop of happiness), Sparrowhawk - 55 sp (Nick Croft).


Wanstead Flats: 2000 + Wood Pigeon west, 41 Fieldfare, 28 Redwing, 16 + Song Thrush, 40+ Blackbird, 10 Mistle Thrush, 24 Lapwing north, 2 Snipe (TH), 11 Meadow Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtail, 70 + Lesser Redpoll (45+ in the SSSI - TH), 23 Chaffinch, 20 + Goldfinch, f/juv Bullfinch, Linnet, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, 30 Herring Gull south in one flock (Nick Croft/Tim Harris/Steve Thorpe)

Wanstead Park:100+ Lesser Redpoll, 30 + Siskin, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, 55 Lapwing north, Water Rail, Kingfisher, 3 Wigeon, Shoveler, 20 + Gadwall, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, 10 + Goldcrest (Nick Croft/Tony Brown/Tim Harris/Steve Thorpe)


Wanstead Flats: 1st winter f Snow Bunting (calling as it flew north from grassland east of centre path), Yellowhammer (west), 50 + Lesser Redpoll, possible Brambling in with Redpoll, 12 Chafinch, 13 Goldfinch, 10 Greenfinch, 116 Fieldfare, 65 Redwing (both mostly north), Mistle Thrush, 5 Song Thrush, many Blackbird, 14 + Meadow Pipit, 3 Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Goldcrest, Stock Dove, 5 Collared Dove, several thousand Wood Pigeon west and north, 3 Teal 21 Shoveler, f Wigeon still Alex, 20 Lapwing (north), Kestrel, 5 Skylark (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Mediterranean Gull in gull roost, 8 Teal (4 displaying males), 4 Gadwall, Wigeon still, 10 + Shoveler, Little Grebe, 40 + Ring-necked Parakeet, 11 Meadow Pipit, 7 Pied Wagtail, 2 Fieldfare, 4 Redwing, 8 Song Thrush, 4 Mistle Thrush, 60 + Lesser Redpoll (SSSI feeding on birch seeds, 1 with grey rump and very much greyer/paler than the rest), 52 + Goldfinch (large flock of 38 + birds feeding in trees north of flats), 9 Greenfinch, 9 Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, 2 Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Blackcap (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 60 + Lesser Redpoll (SSSI - including the grey rumped bird, which appears larger than its dowdier cohorts, more work needed), Siskin, 4 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 10 Song Thrush, 20 + blackbird, singing Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, 2 Teal, 20 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, f Wigeon still, 2 Kestrel, 2 Grey Heron, Little Grebe (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 2 Snipe, 200+ Common Gull, 3 Fieldfare, 5 Song Thrush, 40 + Lesser Redpoll (SSSI), Siskin, Linnet, 10 Gadwall (south), 2 Teal, f Wigeon, 17 Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Chiffchaff (SSSI), 4 Skylark, 23 Meadow Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtail (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 51 Tufted Duck, 35 Gadwall, 22 Pochard, Shoveler, 2 Little Grebe, 2 Heron, 17 Fieldfare (north east), 4 Mistle Thrush, Kingfisher, 7 Goldcrest, 2 Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Bullfinch, Siskin, 3 Lesser Redpoll (Nick Croft).


Wanstead Flats: 23 Lapwing (north east over Alex), 13 Teal (10 Alex 6m 4f, 3 east), 24 Shoveler (1 jub), 1 Gadwall, Tufted Duck, f Wigeon, 68 + Ring-necked Parakeet (north), 8 Meadow Pipit, 12 Pied Wagtail (7 on new mown area in grassland), 9 Skylark, 3 Fieldfare, 8 Song Thrush, 5 Mistle Thrush, 2 Lesser Redpoll (SSSI flock flown off north), 2 Siskin, 20 Greenfinch Sparrowhawk, 300 + Common Gull (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Mediterranean Gull over Alex (PD), 7 Gadwall (1 Jubilee), 22 Shoveler, 3 Teal, f Wigeon, 11 Greylag Goose, 50 Coot, 12 Moorhen, 20 + Meadow Pipit, 10 Pied Wagtail (9 on new mown grassland), Grey Wagtail, singing Song Thrush, f Blackcap (TH), 3 Goldcrest, Reed Bunting, Linnet, 2 Siskin, 7 Lesser Redpoll (30 Richmond Rd - TH), Heron, 6 Skylark, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (Tim Harris, Paul Davis, Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 52 Gadwall, 6 Shoveler, 61 Tufted Duck, 32 Pochard, 3 Little Grebe, 1 Little Egret, 2 Kingfisher, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Kestrel, 8 Fieldfare, 8 Siskin, 6 Goldcrest, 1 Chiffchaff (Tony Brown). 2 Firecrest (Bush Wood in with party of tits and goldcrest), Water Rail, 2 singing Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Little Grebe, 5 Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk, 20 + Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Skylark (over), Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 3 Gadwall, Pochard, 22 Shoveler, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, 10 Skylark, 14 Pied Wagtail, 14 Meadow Pipit, 5 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, 4 Song thrush, 5 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Siskin, Reed bunting, Kestrel (Nick Croft) Yesterday Oystercatcher heard calling overhead in the fog (J Lethbridge)


Wanstead Flats: 2 Rock Pipit (over Alex south), 23 Meadow Pipit, 11 Pied Wagtail, 39 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, 40 Ring-necked Parakeet, 64 Goldfinch (flock of c. 40 Capel Point in plane trees), 23 Lesser Redpoll (north east), 14 Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, 5 + Skylark, Common Snipe (south over Long Wood), 4 Teal, 3 Gadwall, 2 Tufted Duck, m Pochard, 23 Shoveler, Little Grebe, 2 Goldcrest, Kestrel (NIck Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 91 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush (one singing), 3 Mistle Thrush, 8 + Meadow Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtail, 14 Skylark, 23 Lesser Redpoll, 3 goldcrest, 500 Wood Pigeon south, Stock Dove, 2 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 29 Shoveler, 7 Gadwall, 2 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Pochard (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 2 Firecrest (Bush Wood), 4 Goldcrest, 57 Gadwall, 21 Pochard, 46 Tufted Duck, 3 Shoveler, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Little Grebe (Nick Croft), 3 Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, 6 Fieldfare (Steve Thorpe)


Wanstead Flats: 41 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, Chiffchaff, 8 Meadow Pipit, 5 Pied Wagtail, 5 Skylark, 24 Shoveler, 8 Gadwall, 6 Teal (males displaying again), 2 Tufted Duck (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge)

Wanstead Park: Firecrest (Steve Thorpe), 20 Redwing, Stock Dove (Nick Croft).


Wanstead Flats:13 Teal, 30 Shoveler, 8 Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck, 18 Mute Swan (all Alex), 18 Meadow Pipit, 3 Pied Wagtail, 3 Goldcrest, singing Song Thrush (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 3-4 Firecrest Bush Wood (Sally Hammond/Helen Hewland/NC et al), 16 + Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Lesser Redpoll (15 old sewage works - Mike Messenger), Siskin, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, 25 Common Pochard, 70 Tufted Duck, 47 Gadwall, 6 Teal, Shoveler, 2 Egyptian Goose, 2 Kingfisher, Grey Heron, 3 Redwing, 13 Fieldfare, c.30 Song Thrush inc. 3 singers (Old sewage works - Mike Messenger) (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 11 Pied Wagtail, 12 Meadow Pipit, 2 Lesser Redpoll,3 Siskin, 3 Goldcrest, 22 Shoveler, 2 Teal, Pochard f, 2 Tufted Duck, 7 Gadwall, 14 Mute Swan, Heron, 2 Cormorant, 4 Song thrush (1 singing in Long Wood), 2 Mistle Thrush, Kestrel (Nick Croft).


Wanstead Flats: 22 Shoveler, 4 Teal (male), 2 Gadwall, 2 Pochard, 5 Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, 8 Skylark, 4 Mistle Thrush, 3 Song Thrush (1 still singing Long Wood), 2 Fieldfare, Goldcrest (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 4 Shoveler, 44 Pochard, 56 Tufted Duck, 48 Gadwall, Water Rail, 50 + Siskin, 40 + Lesser Redpoll, 10 Linnet, Bullfinch, 3 Goldcrest, Kingfisher, Sparrowhawk, Grey Heron, 6 Stock Dove, 2 Redwing, 3 Fieldfare (Nick Croft) Firecrest still in Bush Wood yesterday


Wanstead Park: Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Perch pond), Water Rail (Steve Thorpe), 4 Firecrest (Bush Wood)


Wanstead Flats: 20 Lesser Redpoll, 9 Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 3 Goldcrest, 25 Shoveler, 4 Teal, 2 Gadwall, 2 Pochard, 2 Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, 2 Skylark, 2 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (J Lethbridge/N Croft)

Wanstead Park: 3 Firecrest (Bush Wood), 6 Goldcrest, 47 Pochard, 67 Tufted Duck, 61 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, Egyptian Goose, 6 Lesser Redpoll, Little Egret, 6 Little Grebe (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Park and Flats: 3-4 Firecrest (Bush Wood) hard to find first thing then showed well c. 09:30, elusive in the evening two calling birds finally located. 10+ Goldcrest, 121 Gadwall, 40+ Tufted Duck, 13 Teal, 13 Egyptian Goose (The Basin), One Tufted Duck showing a bright pink piece of plastic on one side of its chest (don't know whether this is a tag or the bird is entangled) (Nick Croft/Stuart Fisher/Paul Davis et al).


Wanstead Flats: Brambling (SE over SSSI), 3 Fieldfare, singing Song Thrush, 2 Shelduck (west over park), 27 Shoveler, 4 Teal, 5 Gadwall, 3 Tufted Duck, f Pochard (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Water Rail, Little Egret, Kingfisher, 20+ Song Thrush (old sewage works, many singers), Fieldfare, Redwing, singing Mistle Thrush, 43 Gadwall, 44 Pochard, 3 Shoveler, 60+ Tufted Duck, 2 Egyptian Goose, Bullfinch, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin (Nick Croft)

27 November 2011

Firecrest locations

With one or two people already looking for these rather smart birds, I thought I'd help out with a map. The stars represent where the birds have been found most frequently. This evening they proved somewhat elusive but we finally managed to get 2 birds at the northern star site. Good luck to any visitors.


Forced myself out with a severe cold this morning and got to the Flats for a change. My check of the Jubilee Pond was curtailed by an unpleasant incident nearby involving police trying to stop a self-harmer. I then went over the SSSI to the Broom Fields, a flock of 10 Fieldfare flew west then I met up with Nick walking along the path and we decided to go up to Bush Wood for the Firecrests noticing 3 or 4 Lesser Redpoll near the SSSI on the way.

We wandered around Bush Wood a bit, chatting without finding them and then decided to split up, of course he found them whilst I was looking at Goldcrests and I had somehow turned my phone off so I didn't get his texts, however I found him in the end and had great views of 2 of the birds foraging in Holly.

We then decided to walk through the park and have a coffee at the teashop of happiness, there were a lot of dogs about trying to restrain their owners. After a nice coffee we checked out the Perch pond, no sign of the Water Rail, I counted some Gadwall and then we made our way to the Ornamental Waters and watched a small flock of Siskin with a couple of Goldfinch. Further along there was a Little Egret perched on a fallen tree on the channel, hidden behind branches.

I decided to head back via the Basin and found it full of birds including several Gadwall and 13 Egyptian Geese on the Golf course. Total of 121 Gadwall on entire site, probably more though.