28 July 2012

Back home

After 2 weeks away seeing birds, it was good to get back on the flats and in the park, albeit late in the day. Not much about though and it was a bit of a struggle. Took me an hour to find my first Whitethroat hiding in the SSSI, longer for Starling and Robin.

Perhaps it was all about that time of day. A good number of Swifts and fewer Martins graced the skies, a Sprawk held their attention for a bit, but it just sailed higher and out of view over towards the Alex.

Not much in the way of birds, but way more than the usual number of butterfly and my first Spotted Burnet of the year, here at least. A good few Cinnabar moth caterpillars too.

The strange men were in Long Wood, you'd have thought with so much police presence they would have gone somewhere a bit more secluded. You'd have thought too, that flying model planes would have been banned for the duration of the games, just in case someone decides on a drone attack on the police muster station, but no. They were there as were all the rest of the patch's annoying users.

The park wasn't much better and the tea shop was closed. Sounds from the reed bed on the Shoulder of Mutton suggested a new generation of Reed Warbler, single Little Grebes and a lone Great-crested Grebe chick with 1 parent wasn't too encouraging. I slogged on to the old sewage works, where a bit of illegal fishing was going on. So very little there then.

The sun was setting as I walked back via the Alex. Four Sand Martin darted about then moved off east. An ugly small dog was trying to bate the Mute Swans, while it's owners ignored the hissing of the swans not wanting to interrupt their smoke.

Not a great return then, but with Wheatear and Black Redstart at Alexandra Palace something good has got to happen sooner or later.

How much holiday have I left?

10 July 2012

Chancing it!

Having not cocked up on any identifications, or offended any readers for a couple of days I thought it safe to chance it out on the patch.

The police muster station is looking like an up-market refugee camp.  A worker came out to meet me as I completed the loop through the SSSI to Jubilee and round the wood on the south side of the fairground. Oh oh! He's going to give me some grief.

Not so.  Turns out he's a birder too and is interested in what's about. Hailing from the Cotswolds he was surprised to find singing Skylark and Meadow Pipit so close to the City. In lieu of anything of current interest I give him a condensed version of the highlights.

Willow Warbler calling in the birches, oh and we had a Wryneck...  That kind of thing.

Apparently all is not well inside the walls of the fortress, the walkways have been floating off in the rain.  Oh dear! Sounds like the horses will need water wings.

Back to my patrol of the patch I passed by the reeds on Shoulder of Mutton, all too quiet, and then onto Heronry where, relieved, I counted 3 young Great-crested Grebes again.  Mum has decided that enough is enough with the small fry her young charges had been wolfing down, she was now going for the big stuff. Loud Berny at the tea room remarked that some dog walker had emptied a load of Golden Rudd into the lake.  It appeared to be what mum was feeding her young, and her young were having trouble in dealing with.

A single Common Tern was happier catching the small stuff for a while then disappeared into the grey sky, and that as they say was about it.  Looking back through the archives on the London Birder's Wiki informs me that we were seeing Green and Common Sandpiper by this time though not a lot else. Ah well, I am off for a couple of weeks, and perhaps that will help me get some enthusiasm for early mornings back.

I also have a new patch to look over, from the 26th floor, down at Canary Wharf.  I might even join in the Peanut Challenge, just so Jono doesn't come last.  I reckon with the help of big bins I might just be able to spot a Back Redstart on the derelict land behind our block without leaving the office.  Should be good for the autumn and spring migration of big raptors, can't wait!

Personally I think Jono has been over doing the running, but I have to admit the results have been quite remarkable!

3 July 2012

June: a fantastic month

What a month.  Absolutely fantastic. A month's list of birds like this: Marsh Warbler, European Roller, Dartford Warbler, Night Heron, Nightjar, Purple Heron, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Wood Warbler, Little Bittern, Ruddy Duck, Little Swift, Pacific Golden Plover, Sacred Ibis - can't be all bad, can it?

Just a shame none were on the patch.

The French have a word for it.  Crap!

Go on get the highlights over and done with and I can go to bed...

3rd: Dunlin heard calling 

5th: Snaresbrook: probable 2cyr male Red-footed Falcon seen flying low, south over Snaresbrook at 3.55pm, heading towards Wanstead Park/Flats. (John Richardson)

25th: 2 pairs of Common Tern on Heronry
27th: 3 unseasonal Siskin west over Long Wood
Reed Warblers in addition to the Shoulder of Mutton bird

So in conclusion 1 heard, 1 not seen on the patch, plus some others.  A great offering.

Of course it might have been a bit different if we hadn't been hoofing it around the country getting: Marsh Warbler, European Roller, Dartford Warbler, Night Heron, Nightj...

But I doubt it.  June is June.  So let's hope that July's isn't June too.

1st June
Wanstead Park: Hobby chasing hirundines (Steve Thorpe).

3rd June
Wanstead Flats: Dunlin heard flying north over broom fields, 7 Stock Dove, Kestrel, 12 Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Common Whitethroat feeding young, Great-crested Grebe feeding young, rain (Nick Croft)

5th June
Snaresbrook: probable 2cyr male Red-footed Falcon seen flying low, south over Snaresbrook at 3.55pm, heading towards Wanstead Park/Flats. (John Richardson)

Wanstead Flats: 7 Stock Dove, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Meadow Pipit carrying food, 5 House Martin and no interesting falcons (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: standing by Shoulder of Mutton at time of RFF sighting completely unaware, picked up a Hobby calling from Reservoir Wood, Reed Warbler, 2 Common Tern, 3 Swallow, 40+ Swift (Nick Croft/Sally Hammond)

8th June
Wanstead Flats: No seabird spectacular, 12 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Herring Gull, 10 Stock Dove, singing Willow Warbler (Nick Croft) Go to Devon then (humorous quip from some one on the wiki!).

Wanstead Park: Singing Reed Warbler (Shoulder of Mutton), only 2 Great-crested Grebe chick remain, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

12th June
Wanstead Flats: Little Grebe with chick (Alex), Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 10 + Swift, 8 Meadow Pipit, Grey Heron (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 3 Little Egret, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull (Ilford golf course), Reed Warbler, probable Garden Warbler (paddock by stables), Great Crested Grebe back to 3 chicks, Little Grebe with chick, House Martin, 5 Swift (Nick Croft)

13th June
Wanstead Flats: Singing Reed Warbler (Alex), 2 Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat, singing Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Hobby, Stock Dove, Swift, 9 Tufted Duck (Jub) (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 3 Great Crested Grebe (+ 3 chicks), 2 Little Grebe chicks (SoM), pr Reed Warbler (SoM) (Nick Croft), Hobby over at 6pm (John Richardson).

14th June
Wanstead Flats: 3 Kestrel, Lesser Whitethroat, 7 House Martin (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: pr Reed Warbler (Steve Thorpe)

15th June
Wanstead Park: Reed Warbler, Little Egret, Common Tern, House Martin, Peregrine Falcon over Ilford golf course (Nick Croft)

16th June
Wanstead Park: Hobby calling, Common Tern, 4 + Lesser Black-backed Gull (Nick Croft)

19th June
Wanstead Flats: Lesser Whitethroat singing east end of Long Wood, 3 Chiffchaff + 1 with 4 fledged young, 4 Blackcap, Skylark with young, 8 Meadow Pipit, c. 50 Swift, 5 House Martin, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Pr Reed Warbler, singing Stock Dove, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 6 Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, 2 House Martin (Nick Croft)

20th June
Wanstead Flats: Lesser Whitethroat (Tim Harris), 4 House Martin gathering mud and another 8 over Alex, 30 Jackdaw in a flock (Nick Croft)

23rd June
Wanstead Park: Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Goldcrest, Common Tern, 4 House Martin, Black-headed Gull, 2nd brood of Little Grebe on Shoulder of Mutton of 2 chicks (Nick Croft/Steve Thorpe)

25th June
Wanstead Flats: 2 Lesser Whitethroat, singing Willow Warbler, 4 House Martin, 20 + Swift (Nick Croft).

Wanstead Park: 2 singing Reed Warbler, 5 Black-headed Gull, 3 Great-crested Grebe (only 1 chick seen), Little Grebe (2 chicks), Egyptian Goose heard (Nick Croft/Steve Thorpe), Sunday: Little Egret eating crayfish at the pump-house, 2 pr Common Tern (Steve Thorpe), Common Tern seen on banks of Heronry at midnight on Saturday during bat walk (Tim Harris).

27th June
Wanstead Flats: 3 Siskin west over Long Wood, Great Black-backed Gull, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove (Nick Croft).

Wanstead Park: singing Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Common Tern, 4 House Martin, 30 + Swift (Nick Croft/Steve Thorpe).