27 November 2012

Upside down flying Snipe, big hawk and stuff

You go all your life not seeing an upside down flying Snipe, perhaps not even considering the idea of an upside down flying Snipe.  Then as you innocently enough try to take some photo things of a right way up flying Snipe, which aren't going to turn out well, it suddenly does the upside down flying thing.  Amazing!  And unfortunately all my pics are ruff and crap, as it did it at a fair rate of knots (geddit!) as it curl(ew)ed over my head.

The only reason I saved the pictures was to try an gauge the bill length; looked a bit short to me, but that could be the angle of the bird!

My stint down the police scrape over, I pottered round the SSSI checking out a Long-tailed Tit flock and its accompanying Goldcrests.  Then the alarm went up.  I looked around and a few seconds later this beauty came and landed in a tree just beyond the one I was stood behind. I rattled off a few shots before it noticed me.  It gave me one of those "if you were a bit a smaller, I'd have you, ya piece of shit!" looks, and then ignored me.  Sweet.

In other stuff, good to see the Ingrebourne finally has it's own web page (see link to the side and while you are at it, sign the petition against the D&R warden cuts, and tell the National Trust how to run a moorland), and about time.   I look forward to see how it progresses, but already I've noticed that the main players down there are already on board following the site, unlike our team....

Every site worth its salt should have one, so come on Lindo get your bunch together and give us a Scrubbers blog.

25 November 2012

... the blustery day

"So-oo, are we going out and down the patch?", said Piglet hopefully.  "Nah, it'll be crap", replied Pooh from somewhere under the duvet. "You never know though!," said Piglet, still on the edge of his seat and ever hopeful.  "November is the June of Winter", remarked the duvet.  A lazy paw appeared, felt around like an elephant's trunk, located a jar of honey and retreated back undercover.

And Pooh was probably right, but so was Piglet.  If you don't go out you will never know.  So Pooh stayed under the duvet and Piglet checked out internet porn all day.

They really didn't miss much.

Way down south of the sewage works, through the gates of Mordor, the Aldersbrook runs out from the cemetery and enjoys a brief life of its own before getting consumed by the Roding somewhere in Manor Park.  I stop here occasionally just in case.  I am not sure just in case of what, as I haven't seen much in the little pond that marks the birth of the brook, via a pipe under the cemetery.

On the other side of the path I have.  A snipe one winter and also at that time a Water Rail. I had just snapped off a few images of a Kingfisher which then flew a few yards down the stream.  I rattled off a few more before realising that in the background a rail had come out and was prodding around in the shallow water.  The first returning bird this year.  So Piglet was right, but I can't help feeling that Pooh was being remarkably more sensible.  Especially for a bear with little brain.

23 November 2012

In lieu of interesting gulls

After the strong winds that battered my windows last night and the heavy rain that leaked through bad pointing, I thought the patch would be flooded with wind blown strays, or at least flooded. It was neither, and a big disappointment. I even sought out the park for the duck rarities high winds tend to bring in. A trio of teal and a female pochard the only new birds.

My morning was slighly better than this poor thing, who had removed its own head for want of something better to do.

There are Waxwing everywhere, everywhere up north that is, and after last night probably further up north. Those that have ventured south have by-passed London and are wolfing down berries from Cornwall to Kent. They'll come. Eventually.

I promised you interesting gulls, and lieu of those I bring you some slightly more interesting gulls than the usual crowd of Commons and black-headers (quite interestingly one on Heronry is already approaching breeding plumage). I will now go to my Helm and tell you what calendar year zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

19 November 2012

Monday 19th

November is becoming a bit of chore, so today I thought I'd try something different, namely getting up for first light.  I would have made it to if I hadn't fallen asleep.  One early morning over the weekend and a lot of traveling meant I was still pooped.  I beat the sunrise, or what little there was of it sandwiched between the dark glowering clouds and the dark roofscape of Forest Gate.  Pretty nonetheless.

I was just observing my first Chaffinch of the day when it swerved alarmingly - a small falcon zipped through below it.  Like the studious birder I am I tracked the raptor (i.e. no pictures. Bum!).  Small and vigorous.  I assumed at this point it was a "small" male Peregrine, but on getting the bins to it I realised it was by no means beefy enough, and the wing shape not right.  The morning sun warmed the colours on its breast as it frenetically flapped and then glided towards long wood.  The back clearly not dark enough for Peregrine, the the moustachial stripe not as defined.  Clearly not a Kestrel, to me, clearly a Merlin.

On its way it had a pop or two at any passerine near its path before finally disappearing over the Esso copse.  My third on the flats, the other two being females from a couple of year's back.

It became quite a raptor morning, with 3 Kestrel and 2 or more Sparrowhawk getting in on the act - and there haven't been many mornings when that happens.

Bar that it was a fairly quiet morning: a Snipe over the SSSI, Little Egret too.  Only 1 Chiffy today and not so many Goldcrest in the birches and brooms on the west side of the road.  I check them out just in case.  Just in case the record of the Yellow-brow from the previous weekend can be confirmed.  The problem with all the really good stuff is that it stays where it makes land fall.  If a Melodious Warbler can find its way to Leyton then why not a sibe the flats. One day perhaps.

Tim did the webs count at the weekend and concluded that our Pochards are fast disappearing.  just a few weeks from a record count of around 70 birds we are down to around 10.  Gadwall are on the up with over 100 counted and Shoveler appear to be enjoying Heronry at the expense of the Alex. We need a change in the weather, not least to bring the Waxwing down from the north, but to get some early morning movement.

Might not get out so early tomorrow.  Not to say I wont try, but I know in a straight fight between warmth and my eyes closed and staring at empty skies all bets are off.

11 November 2012

A mystery!

Not much has happened on the patch lately compared with what's gone before. Saturday and for want of anything better to do and in response to being "couldn't be arsed" to go anywhere else, I wandered down the park and even took in the ornamental waters, that's how bored I was. I can convince myself I was looking for Treecreeper or some exotic duck, but basically it was time wasting till it got dark.

But you never know.  I heard a Black-headed Gull making a lot of  noise over the tree tops.  It's incessant calling finally registering and getting my interest.  I couldn't see the bird, but as I rounded the last bit of the ornamentals I saw what was possibly the cause of the screaming hiatus.  Two blobs at the top of the pylon by the old pumping house.  The two blobs were a pair of Peregrine, the first pair I've seen.  Unfortunately they decided to move somewhere quieter before I got close enough.

Meanwhile in the interesting bits of the ornamentals, i.e. the hardest bits to get a good view of, the juv Wigeon was still kicking about, as were a few male Teal. Before turning back I noticed something strange on one of the islands.  A branch with a chewed end....


The residents of the posh part of Wanstead take home security somewhat seriously!

4 November 2012

Ouzelly the best October for years...

Finally they came.  A few quiet, subdued chacks and it's Ouzel Autumn time again.

Highlights for this, all things considered, good month:

  • Short-eared Owl, not one, but two, woohoo!
  • Tree Pipit and Yellow Wagtail: a few late leavers
  • Brambling: already better than last year, and shaping up for finchtastic winter
  • Woodlark recorded on 2 days, with 4 on the 23rd
  • Goldeneye: 2 for the morning on Heronry, that's why we send Dan to school!

  • October 16th Ouzels: Tardy turdus
  • Hawfinch, 3 days of possibly 2 birds, the first sightings since 1985 (Stevey T might have got one over the Heronry the weekend before!)
  •  Not forgetting Stonechat: again a bumper year, are UK populations bouncing back? 

  • And a cast of extras including: Bob's Alba Wagtail, Nuthatch, Golden Plover, mass Lapwing movement, Wigeon, late Wheatear and a couple of Yellowhammer
A surprisingly good month with the best days completely obscured by thick fog.  Happily many of my predictions came true, but the best birds were out of the blue - or rather the thick pea souper. Just goes to show you have to be out there...

2nd October

Wanstead Flats: 0645-0800, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 4 Swallow, 12 Meadow Pipit, 1 Grey Wagtail, 4 Chiffchaff, inc. 1 singing bird (Tim Harris, Dan Hennessy)

3rd October

Wanstead Flats (Bush Wood playing fields, 07:00-07:30): 1 Grey Heron (over), 22 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Common Gulls, 28 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 21 Herring Gulls, 1 adult Yellow-legged Gull (Dan Hennessy, Tim Harris).

4th October

Wanstead Flats: two flocks 40 &10 Meadow Pipits collecting at dusk (Bob Vaughan)

5th October

Wanstead Flats: (07-00-07.45) 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 10+ Herring Gull, 20+ Common Gull, 50+ Lesser Black-backed Gull and even more Black-headed Gull, alba wagtail (Bob Vaughan) (08.00-0845); Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull in roost, 1 Skylark, 1 Swallow NE, 4 Meadow Pipit, 9 Chiffchaff (SSSI/Long Wood), 2 Goldcrests (Long Wood) (Tim Harris).

6th October

Wanstead Flats: 07:30-09:30, probable Short-eared Owl over east, heading towards Ilford, at 9:10 (Steve Thorpe); 19 Swallows and 37 House Martins mostly W/SW between 8:30-8:45, 28 Meadow Pipits (resident birds), few Chiffchaffs, 2 Chaffinch over, 2 Reed Buntings (broom) (Tim Harris) 15:45-17:15 Wheatear police mud bath (nr Alex), 2 Blackcap Long Wood (Bob Vaughan).

7th October

Wanstead Flats: Tree Pipit, 30+ Meadow Pipit, 18 Pied Wagtail, 4 Wheatear, 56 Redwing, 10 Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest, 16 Chaffinch, 14 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Linnet, 6 Siskin, m eclipse Teal, 3 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, 16 Skylark, Common Buzzard as seen from the park, Common Snipe (A Wanstead Collective).

Wanstead Park: 10+ Meadow Pipit, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Kingfisher, 22 Gadwall, 31 Tufted Duck, 20 Pochard, 13 Goldcrest, 3 Chiffchaff, Reed Bunting, 8 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Siskin, 2 Common Buzzard (Nick Croft/Paul Davis)

8th October

Wanstead Flats: 32 Chaffinch, 65 Goldfinch, 22 Siskin, 36 Lesser Redpoll, 4 Linnet, 23 Meadow Pipit, 15 Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 7 House Martin, 11 Swallow, 14 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 5 Goldcrest, 7 Redwing, 6 Shoveler, f Teal, 4 Gadwall, 2 Lapwing, Common Snipe, 2 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (Nick Croft/Tim Harris) (57sp).

9th October

Wanstead Flats: vis-migging 2-4 Brambling, 15 Lesser Redpoll, 5 Siskin, 2 Linnet, 20 + Chaffinch, 10 + Goldfinch, 14 Greenfinch, 5 Reed Bunting, m Stonechat, 20 + Redwing, 2 Fieldfare, 6 Song Thrush, 8 Skylark, 20 + Meadow Pipit, 10 Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 11 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 9 Swallow, 6 House Martin, 9 Goldcrest, 5 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel (Tony Brown/Steve Thorpe/Dan Hennessy/Nick Croft).

10th October

Wanstead Flats: Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Peregrine Falcon showing some interest in a large flock (90+) Jackdaw, small movement of finches: Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Linnet, 20+ Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Redwing, Fieldfare, 5 Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Goldcrest, 6 Stock Dove south, 10+ Meadow Pipit, 6 Pied Wagtail, m Stonechat still in brooms though elusive, 7 Skylark (Tim Harris/Dan Hennessy/Nick Croft)

11th October

Wanstead Flats: Woodlark (heard calling over centre path of brooms south at 08:10: JS/NC), 10+ Skylark, Tree Pipit (Alex scrub), 10+ Meadow Pipit, 10 Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Stonechat still brooms, 125+ Redwing, Fieldfare, 20+ Song Thrush, good movement of finches: 20 Chaffinch, 7 Siskin, 6 Lesser Redpoll, Goldfinch, Linnet and Greenfinch, 3 Reed Bunting, 10+ Goldcrest, 8 Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Barnacle Goose (plastic fantastic), 5 Shoveler, 3 Pochard, 7 Gadwall, 3 House Martin, 12 Swallow (Tim Harris/Tony Brown/Nick Croft/Josh Selfe) [60sp].

12th October

Wanstead Flats: m Stonechat still broom fields, 82 Redwing, 5 SongThrush, 20 + Blackbird, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 4 Goldcrest, 7 Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, 2 Swallow, 5 House Martin, possible Hobby east over Lake House Road estate, 2 Sparrowhawk, 8 Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail (Nick Croft)

15th October

Wanstead Flats: 6 Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaff, 16 Meadow Pipit, 7 Pied Wagtail, 5 Grey Wagtail, 20+ Chaffinch, 5 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Kestrel (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge).

Wanstead Park: f + 1st winter Goldeneye (Heronry), 30+ Pochard, 30+ Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, Kingfisher, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Redwing, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 3 Chiffchaff, 5+ Goldcrest, 2 Coal Tit, 3 Kestrel (Dan Hennessy/Tim Harris/Jonathan Lethbridge/Nick Croft/Steve Thorpe).

16th October

Wanstead Flats: Ring Ouzel (long wood), 12 Redwing, Firecrest (first on the flats) in with numerous Goldcrests, 2 Chiffchaff, Lesser Redpoll, 2 Linnet, Siskin, 20+ Chaffinch, Swallow, 7 Meadow Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtail, 5 Shoveler, 7 Gadwall (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge/Josh Selfe).

17th October

Wanstead Flats: f Ring Ouzel being elusive in Long Wood (Tim Harris), Redwing, 4 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 6 Goldcrest, 4 Lesser Redpoll, 10 Siskin, Linnet, Reed Bunting, 10 + Meadow Pipit, 7 Pied Wagtail, possible Yellow Wagtail over, 5 Shoveler, Gadwall, Kestrel, f Sparrowhawk (Team Wanstead)

18th October

Wanstead Flats: 1 probably 2 Ring Ouzel in Alex scrub, one flew on to Alex island then north, the other presumably still in the scrub, 20 + Song Thrush, Redwing, Yellowhammer (2nd-3rd bird of the year) circled twice over brooms, 2 Reed Bunting, 15 Siskin, 20+ Chaffinch, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Chiffchaff, 6+ Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan/Dan Hennessy)

Wanstead Park: 30 + Pochard, 40 + Gadwall, 7 Shoveler, Reed Bunting, Blackcap, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

19th October

Wanstead Flats: f/1st winter Ring Ouzel (4th day), south of Long Wood, 20+ Song Thrush, 51 Redwing west in one flock, 3 Chiffchaff, Blackcap, 5 Goldcrest, 17 Lesser Redpoll, 6 Linnet, 20 + Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, 15 Pied Wagtail, 25 Meadow Pipit, 7 Skylark, 27 Gadwall, 4 Teal, 6 Shoveler, Little Egret, 3 Grey Heron (Nick Croft/Tim Harris)

20th October

Wanstead Flats: f Ring Ouzel (long wood - 5th day), 500 + Redwing west, 30 + Song Thrush, c. 100 Chaffinch, 6 Lesser Redpoll, 6 Siskin, 20 + Goldfinch, 3 Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, 9 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 5 Goldcrest, c. 500 Starling, 24 Skylark, c. 30 Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 14 Pied Wagtail, 8 Gadwall, 6 Shoveler, Snipe, 2 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (A Wanstead Collective)

Wanstead Park: Nuthatch (Res. Wood - Kathy Hartnett), 8 Siskin, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Meadow Pipit, 3 Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 5 Skylark, Chiffchaff, 13 + Goldcrest, Kingfisher, 42 Tufted Duck, 61 + Gadwall, 6 Shoveler, 32 Common Pochard, f Teal, Redwing, 3 Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

21st October

Wanstead Flats: 2 Ring Ouzel (Birdguides), 7 Fieldfare north over SSSI, Short-eared Owl (sw chased by crows), 10 Pied Wagtail, 14 Meadow Pipit, 2 Snipe, 10 Skylark, 5 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 2 Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaff, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk (The Wanstead Collective)

Wanstead Park: Wigeon reported Shoulder of Mutton, 9 Shoveler, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Pochard in good numbers on heronry, 6 Goldcrest, Blackcap, Chiffchaff (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge)

22nd October

Wanstead Flats: Hawfinch (circled over Esso Copse calling before going north - NC), 2-3m Ring Ouzels (+ female), 20+ Redwing, 30+ Song Thrush, 9 Gadwall, 6 Shoveler, f Teal, Reed Bunting, 4 Chiffchaff, f Blackcap, 5 Goldcrest (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge).

23rd October

Wanstead Flats: Hawfinch, again circling over Esso Garage, 2 birds heard (NC/AH), f Brambling, 3 Woodlark west, 2 Golden Plover north (both TB), 1st winter Ring Ouzel north of Long Wood (ST), also 100 + Chaffinch, 4 Lesser Redpoll, Linnet, Reed Bunting, 30 + Song Thrush, 60 + Redwing, Fieldfare, 15 Meadow Pipit, 6 Pied Wagtail, 5 Skylark, 7 + Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaff, 9 Gadwall + unidentified large game bird type flushed from Alex scrub (Nick Croft/Tony Brown/Adam Hudson/Steve Thorpe et al)

24th October

Wanstead Flats: 57 Lapwing west, c. 200 Chaffinch, 44 Siskin, 8 Lesser Redpoll, 10 Linnet, Reed Bunting, 46 Redwing, 63 Fieldfare, 20 Meadow Pipit, 8 Pied Wagtail, c. 20 Skylark, 6 Goldcrest, m Sparrowhawk, m Kestrel, 10 Gadwall, f Teal, 7 Shoveler, Chiffchaff, Swallow north, and a Ferret on a lead (Nick Croft/Steve Thorpe et al).

25th October

Wanstead Flats: 4 Brambling, c. 100 Chaffinch mainly north again, 13 Lesser Redpoll, 6 Siskin, 8 Linnet, Reed Bunting, 60 Fieldfare, 30 + Redwing, 35 + Song Thrush, 20 + Meadow Pipit, 10 + Pied Wagtail, 18 Skylark, 3 Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaff, c 1,000 Starling through north, 4 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler (Nick Croft/Tony Brown/Jonathan Lethbridge/Doug "wants ouzels") yesterday Hawfinch seen at 17:20 over Esso Copse and west along Long Wood by Eve Wei)

26th October

Wanstead Flats: m Stonechat, 200 + Redwing, 66 Fieldfare (mainly north), 30 + Song Thrush, 3 Brambling, 4 Siskin, 6+ Lesser Redpoll, Linnet, Reed Bunting, 10+ Skylark, 40+ Meadow Pipit, 7+ Goldcrest, 1000+ Woodpigeon south, Sparrowhawk, Snipe, 14 Shoveler, 3 Swallow (north) (Nick Croft/Tim Harris/Jonathan Lethbridge, Rob and Doug).

Wanstead Park: 36 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing (north), Siskin, 3 Meadow Pipit, 17 Pochard, 33 Tufted Duck, 10+ Gadwall, Teal, 5 Little Grebe, 10+ Goldcrest, Sparrowhawk  (Nick Croft).

27th October

Wanstead Flats: 125 Lapwing west, 2 Snipe, 10-15 unidentified med-large waders west roughly over West Ham park tracked through Bow Creek, c. 300 Fieldfare, c. 150 Redwing, 20 Song Thrush, 500 + Wood Pigeon south, 30 + Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 3 Linnet, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Reed Bunting, 20 + Meadow Pipit, 10 + Skylark, 2 Chiffchaff, 5 Goldcrest, 3 Teal, 23 Shoveler, 5 Gadwall, Common Pochard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 2 Swallow north - 54 sp (Wanstead Birding)

Wanstead Park: Little Egret, 2 Grey Heron, Wigeon, 4 Shoveler, 40+ Common Pochard, similar numbers Tufted Duck, 30 + Gadwall, 4 Little Grebe, 8 + Goldcrest, Siskin (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge)

28th October

Wanstead Flats: 600 + Fieldfare, 50 + Redwing, 1700 Woodpigeon south, 158 Chaffinch, 50 + Linnet, 6 Lesser Redpoll, Brambling, 2 Siskin, 4 Reed Bunting, 500 + Starling, 20 + Skylark, 10 + Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 4 Pied Wagtail, Peregrine Falcon (Bob Vaughan), 2-3 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Snipe (Jonathan Lethbridge/Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: Kingfisher (Steve Thorpe)

29th October

Wanstead Flats: Ring Ouzel (Long Wood heard only - JL), juv Stonechat (Alex, pub scrub), 3 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 9 Lesser Redpoll, 15 Siskin, 20+ Chaffinch, 5 Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, Chiffchaff, 7 Goldcrest, 20 Meadow Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtail, 6 Skylark, Sparrowhawk (Jonathan Lethbridge/Nick Croft)

30th October

Wanstead Flats: 200+ Woodpigeon south, 20 + Chaffinch, 10 + Lesser Redpoll, 5 Siskin, 4 Linnet, m Bullfinch (first this year) Alex/pub scrub, 3 Reed Bunting, 5 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 10 + Meadow Pipit, 5 Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 7 + Goldcrest, Kestrel, Stock Dove, 5 Shoveler, 10 Gadwall, f Teal, 10 + Skylark (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge)

Wanstead Park: Nuthatch reservoir wood, 3 Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Reed Bunting, Fieldfare, 65 + Pochard, 30 + Gadwall, 10 + Shoveler, Little Egret, 10 + Goldcrest, 5 Little Grebe, Grey Wagtail (Nick Croft)

31st October

Wanstead Flats: 1500 Starling west, Bullfinch, 2 Reed Bunting, c. 40 Chaffinch, 12 Goldfinch, 4 Lesser Redpoll, 5 Linnet, 2 Siskin, Fieldfare (Nick Croft)