27 May 2013

Green Hairstreak on Wanstead Flats

I was minding my own business on the Flats this morning, wandering home from a mildly successful photography session with Meadow Pipits, when I spotted a small green butterfly on one of the paths near Long Wood. I'm not that hot on butterflies, so I waited until I got home before proclaiming it to be a Green Hairstreak. I texted Tim, who seemed excited enough to want to out and look for it, so I gave him rough directions. It wasn't long before he texted back that he had discovered five more!

I went out a little later on with a camera, this time armed with directions from Tim, and found them sunning themselves on some brambles. I soon also spied Paul F, who had in turn found half a dozen more a little way west of the original sighting. It seems that a few small colonies of this tiny butterfly have been under our noses the whole time! I remember twitching the Ingrebourne Valley to see these, so it's great we have some of our own now!

23 May 2013

Ever decreasing circles

Actually managed to get out on to the patch this morning.  Felt like the first time in ages.  Nothing much had changed save the corporation's trashing of habitat to make way for new posts so that the one horse rider who braves the dogs and the traffic knows where they are allowed to go, just in case they'd forgotten. Rather expensive posts too by the looks of things, which really rankles as the fuckers have yet to provide any such instruments to protect the Skylarks. They would be my hate figure of the week if it weren't for landlords, their solicitors and their tenants, oh, and npower. Beating them all by a country mile, however, are the twats from English Nature. So instead of really enjoying not seeing very much, I spent the time rehearsing an email I never sent trying to kick the shit out of the CofL.

Two Little Egret first thing promised a good day, a Peregrine being mobbed by a Leller Blah blah was indeed promising. A singing Garden Warbler gave brief views in the old sewage works but never gave itself up fully, and on the way home a trio of Sand Martin zipped through the pub scrub. So not really promising at all.

I stomped home via one last visit to the Esso Copse to check on the House Martin over Aldersbrook.  While scanning with "big bins" I picked up a mobbing way over Bush Wood, so far away  I couldn't even see it with the naked eye. A big raptor was getting the attention of two corvids, which I hoped would encourage it my way, especially with the prevailing wind behind it.  When it dinked it was kind of owl like in its flight, and when it finally rid itself of its crow company it soared away westward, gently circling higher and higher on what I thought were flat wings.  I put the news out, hoping someone to the west would pick it up and be able to identify it.  Where was London's #1 birder when you need him?

Could have been a Honey Buzzard, could have been the Honey Monster!

Since nothing else was stupid enough to stay still or out in the open for me, have a bathing Joseph...

14 May 2013

133 days late

Finally after hundreds of miles tramped round the flats and the park I hear a bird that we were beginning to think we'd never hear again.  If it had called a few minutes earlier it might well have ended up on the wrong side of a male sprawk, which hurtled through the area.  Luckily it didn't and now I don't have to go to Bushey Park.

Shite pics because I was on the wrong setting, shows how much I had been using the camera today...

With a few tardy Wheatear, 1 Whinchat, a Cuckoo, 2 Little Ringed Plover, the patch has been flattering to decieve. The weather's March, the birding leaning towards June and the state of enthusiasm bordering on appathy.

3 May 2013

Every month should be this way

What a month! 20 birds added to the list during the month, records tumbling, and still time for a few fluffed IDs!

Little Ringed Plover, (1-Apr)
Great White Egret,  (3-Apr)
Red Kite,  (8-Apr)

Swallow, (10-Apr)
Willow Warbler,  (10-Apr)
Black Redstart,  (11-Apr)
Sand Martin,  (11-Apr)
House Martin,  (13-Apr)
Ring Ouzel,  (15-Apr)
Whinchat,  (15-Apr)

Common Whitethroat,  (15-Apr)
Common Redstart, (15-Apr)
Yellow Wagtail, (16-Apr)
Lesser Whitethroat,  (19-Apr)
Rock Pipit, (19-Apr)
Hobby,  (21-Apr)
Sedge Warbler,  (24-Apr)

Common Swift, (24-Apr)
Reed Warbler, (26-Apr)
Garden Warbler, (28-Apr)

The month couldn't have started better with a Little Ringed Plover that stayed for 5 days on the Police Scrape, easily the longest staying bird we've had and a chance for everyone to add it to their lists. A couple of days later and the first Great White Egret, probably the bird seen in various locations in north and east London over the preceding month(s), for 4 years.  Sloppy field skills meant no picture, no such problem for our second Kittiwake (13th April) of the year, which happily circled over Alex for 15 minutes against a clear sky giving some wonderful picture opportunities. With the desertion of the flats by our wintering Common Gull, it did kind of stand out a bit. 

Steve got the first Red Kite of the year on the 8th and followed it up at the end of the month with another, also over the flats, but with warm sunny blue sky days it's been a bit of surprise there haven't been more sightings, though Buzzards have featured regularly with up to 6 birds on the 7th. Hobby have been reported on a couple of occasions, Paul D ("Raptor suppressor") got the first on the 21st, and Mike M has had two subsequently (all in the park). A third Short-eared Owl also graced an early morning towards the end of the month (24th) with the bird appearing desperate to roost somewhere–sightings are on the increase.

The Grebes are back and on a nest, while the Little Grebe's quarrelsome trill can be heard on 2 ponds in the park (4 pairs) and the Alex (3 pairs): Talking about ponds, rather than being the wader magnet we had hoped, it looks like the Jubilee is going to be a quarry for the next 6-7 weeks.

Swallows began trickling back from the 7th onwards to be joined by Sand Martin (11th), House Martin two days later and finally Swift on the 24th, none in great numbers yet but better late than never! Of the warblers, we'd already posted Blackcap and Chiffchaff but it wasn't until the weekend of the 7th that numbers really took off.  One day it was hard to find a Blackcap, the next they were singing everywhere. We finally got our first singing Sedge Warbler on the patch, to be followed by possibly 2 other birds and a couple of Reed Warbler on the Alex (MM also had a Reedy at the west end of Heronry), though wheather the birds will return to the reeds on Shoulder of Mutton is another matter. A Garden Warbler (a real one) was found singing by Bob in the Esso Copse on the 28th and hopefully we shall get more, while the Willow Warbler has taken up his station in the birches of the SSSI, and is again singing the blues. Tony Brown found an odd singing chiffy down alex way, which may or may not turn into something far more interesting if we can ever pin it down again...

 Above: Ring Ouzel and possible Iberian Chiffchaff (photos Tony Brown http://www.thecowboybirder.com/)

While the Sedge and the Reed Warblers featured in our second "fall" the main component of both were the chats. London-wide the morning of the 15th April will be long remembered for the high numbers of Redstart and Wheatear dumped on local patches. Redstarts demolished last year's poor showing with c. 20 Redstart days and one female type that stayed for 5 days; Wheatear: while probably the same numbers as last year, were condensed into fewer days and impressive counts in the high 20s and 30s. We even got a Black Redstart –the first for 40-odd years– which stuck around for 3 days.  Sadly only one ouzel and a sprinkling of Whinchat, but you just knew if you could have stayed out just a tad longer more migrants were to be found. The park didn't get a look in until a few days later when I managed to fluff my ID for this month, announcing a female Pied Fly and retracting it shortly afterwards.  In hindsight probably a Nightingale! To be fair I've only ever seen one and that had most of a large bush in front of it. They wont let me have it, will they?

Off out the back door were our wintering thrushes who tarried until the middle of the month with good numbers of both Redwing and Fieldfare to be found in the SSSI and on the Wanstead golf course. Meanwhile in the Park the singing Siskin also moved north leaving a quieter woodland, while Lesser Redpoll are still only flyovers, though a report on the London Bird Club sightings page of a Common Redpoll is being followed up–there has been a rather bright and showy male redpoll in the Dell on and off over the last few month's. Linnets had taken a liking to the weedy margins on the Police scrape with up to 9 birds being noted, but even these faded away come the Circus and the end of the month, though single flyover birds are being noted most days. Bob got a Yellowhammer on the 13th and the same day a Woodcock in the SSSI (Stevey T had birds flushed from Bush Wood), however the Reed Buntings look like they have moved on again with no reports from the end of the month.

Of our other summer birds we had the usual string of heard Yellow Wagtail (none has yet landed), a late flyover Rock Pipit and a single Tree Pipit.  Shelduck at Walthamstow must be on the up as sightings this month have totalled 11 birds (one group of 5).  On the way down were our winter  ducks: Gadwall, Teal, Tufties and Pochard, though a group of 6 males were showing off to a poor duck on Alex at the end of the month.

Still no sign of Lesser spots, and with the national picture looking bleak as well, this could be another bird lost to the area.

1st April

Wanstead Flats: Little Ringed Plover on Police scrape from 10:00 onwards, 7 Linnet, 10 Fieldfare, 10 Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, 5 Skylark (Nick Croft et al)

Wanstead Park: sizeable group of Siskins singing and feeding (Jean-Patrick Elmes).
Wanstead, private garden: 2 m Siskin (Chris Legge).


Wanstead Flats: Little Ringed Plover till 07:30 when it flew north (Dan Hennessy); back at 09:48 flying around towards Jub, no further sign thereafter (Nick Croft); Common Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, singing Chiffchaff (Tony Brown)


Wanstead Flats: Great White Egret flew west over Wanstead Flats towards Leyton (NC/Birdguides), Little Ringed Plover back on Police  scrape from 14:00-  (NC/Tony Brown Rob 'birdsiveseen', Stuart Fisher/DH); 8 Linnet, 100 + Chaffinch east, Reed Bunting, 4 Redwing, 10 Fieldfare, 8 Skylark, 10 + Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, Kestrel, 11 Shoveler, Chiffchaff SSSI (Nick Croft/Dan Hennessy/Steve Thorpe)

Wanstead Park: Water Rail, 4 Goldcrest (ST), 3 Teal, pr Gadwall, 6 Shoveler, 2 Little Grebe, pr Great Crested Grebe nest building and displaying, Sparrowhawk, 20 Chaffinch east, 10 + Siskin (Nick Croft/Steve Thorpe/Dan Hennessy); m Common Redpoll (Brandon Anderson)

Wanstead Flats: f Little Ringed Plover on drained part of Jub before flying north on to Police scrape (4th day), Common Snipe, 6 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 4 Linnet, Siskin, Reed Bunting, 1-2 singing Chiffchaff,  10+ Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, 4 Skylark, 12 Shoveler (Nick Croft/Tim Harris)


Wanstead Flats: f  Little Ringed Plover on drained part of Jub before (5th day), 2 Common Snipe,  Fieldfare, Redwing, 4 Linnet, 1 calling Chiffchaff,  10+ Meadow Pipit, 5 Pied Wagtail, 4 Skylark, 12 Shoveler, f Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (Nick Croft/Tim Harris/Tony Brown)

Wanstead Park: 50 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing Wanstead golf course, 30 + Siskin, Lesser Redpoll over, 50 + Gadwall, 4 Pochard, Shoveler, 3 Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Red Kite south over Cat & Dog (ST), 3 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 3 singing Chiffchaff, 9 Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, 10 + Meadow Pipit (6 singing), 7 Skylark, 6 Shoveler, 2 Little Grebe, Fieldfare, 6 Redwing (Nick Croft/Steve Thorpe/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: Little Egret, Peregrine Falcon (m) up Roding, Sparrowhawk, 12 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler, 2 m Pochard, 4 Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Lesser Redpoll, Linnet, 3 singing Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: pr Pochard Jub (Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: 9 Shoveler (Bob Vaughan), Woodcock Bush Wood (Steve Thorpe)


Wanstead, private garden: 2 Siskin (m & f) (Chris Legge).

Wanstead Flats: singing Willow Warbler, 4 singing Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, 20+ Redwing, 13 Fieldfare, f Wheatear, 20+ Meadow Pipit, 7 Skylark, 4 Linnet, 10+ Shoveler (Nick Croft/Tim Harris/Bob Vaughan).

Wanstead Park; Swallow west, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 singing Goldcrest, 2 Little Grebe, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Shoveler, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Linnet, Water Rail, Little Egret, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft).


Wanstead Flats: juv m Black Redstart on SW corner Alex (flycatching and looking stunning - thought it was a female till it started singing - first since 1981), 7 Swallow, Sand Martin, 10+ Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest, 20+ singing Redwing, Fieldfare, migrant Song Thrush boosting numbers, 3 Linnet, 10+ Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, 20 + Shoveler, 6 Little Grebe (Nick Croft/Tim Harris/Tony Brown/Steve Thorpe/Stuart Fisher et al). #100 and 101 for this year on patch

Wanstead Park: Little Egret (Steve Thorpe)


Wanstead Flats: m Northern Wheatear, Sand Martin, Swallow through (Tim Harris); Willow Warbler singing at Alex, Swallows through (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: Kittiwake over Alex (JL/NC/JS), 1st winter m Black Redstart (BV/JL/NC/JS), Common Redstart (Stuart Fisher/Tim Harris), Wheatear, Yellowhammer, Woodcock (Bob Vaughan), House Martin (Josh Selfe/Tim Harris), Lapwing (Dan Hennessy), 3 Linnet, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 15 Sylark (inc. 7 territorial males), 20 Meadow Pipits (inc. 8 song-flighting males), Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Willow Warbler (David Bradnum), Nuthatch (Nick Croft), 20 + Redwing, 5 Fieldfare, Goldcrest, 4 Little Grebe, Stock Dove (Wanstead Collective).

Wanstead Park: Willow Warbler. Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Stock Dove (David Bradnum/Nick Croft).


Wanstead Flats: 5 Wheatear, Linnet, 5 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Willow Warbler (Nick Croft et al)

Wanstead Park: Common Buzzard south over Warren Wood at 13.00; 2 Sparrowhawks displaying over Chalet Wood, with 2 more over Lakehouse estate; 3 Swallows over; 7 male Blackcaps; Willow Warbler in old sewage works; 10+ Chiffchaffs. Also, Orange Tip, 8 Commas, 2 Brimstone, Peacock butterfly (TH, David Giddings, Linda Tillbrook, Jackie Morrison).


Wanstead Flats: Ring Ouzel, 3 Whinchat (2f), 5 Common Redstart (4m), c27 Wheatears (record count), 3 Fieldfare, 3 Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, possible Sedge Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Swallow through, Sand Martin south, 2 Siskin, 3 Linnet, Grey Wagtail, 10+ Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk (Wanstead Collective). Still 25 Wheatears at 7pm (TH).


Wanstead Flats: 2 Common Redstart, 5 Northern Wheatear, 5 Willow Warbler, 5 Whitethroat, 6 singing Blackcap, 3 Lesser Redpoll over, 5 Linnet, Yellow Wagtail, 10 + Meadow Pipit, Skylark, 3 Fieldfare, 2 Swallow through, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (Wanstead Collective); 9 Wheatear at 18:15 (Eve Wei)

Wanstead Park: 2 Whitethroat, 3 Willow Warbler, numerous Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Siskin, Little Egret (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Wheatear, 4 Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, 3 Linnet, 4 Shoveler, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Meadow Pipit, Skylark (Nick Croft/BobVaughan); f Redstart reported (Birdguides).

Wanstead Park: 6 Little Grebe, 3 Great Crested Grebe, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, 3 Willow Warbler (Nick Croft).


Wanstead Flats: Tree Pipit (SSSI) same or another in east end of Long Wood, m Common Redstart, 7 Wheatear, 5 Swallow, 3 House Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 3 Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, 9+ Linnet, 10+ Chffichaff, 3 Wilow Warbler, 8 Common Whitethroat, Fieldfare (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge).


Wanstead Flats: 1-2 Common Redstart, 9 Wheatear, possible Tree Pipit Alex scrub (ST), Rock Pipit over north, 10 + Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, 6 Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Fieldfare, Lesser Whitethroat singing SSSI, 10+ Common Whitethroat, 3 singing Willow Warbler, Snipe, 2 Swallow (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge/Barry Bishop/Steve Thorpe/John)

Wanstead Park: 2 Willow Warbler singing, 4 Common Whitethroat, Linnet, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 4-5 Common Redstart, 2 Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail over, 5 Swallow, Sand Martin, 2 Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Lesser Whitethroat, 10 + Common Whitethroat, 3 singing Willow Warbler, 9 Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, 5 Shelduck (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge/Bob Vaughan/Dan Hennessy)


Wanstead Flats: Common Redstart (Birdguides)


Wanstead Flats: f type Common Redstart still east end Long Wood, m Wheatear, 6 Linnet, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Siskin, 2 Yellow Wagtail, Lesser Whitethroat Alex scrub, 10 + Common Whitethroat, 2 Willow Warbler, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge/Steve Thorpe)


Wanstead Flats: f type Common Redstart still east end of Long Wood 5th day (Steve Thorpe), m & f Wheatear, Willow Warbler, 10 + Blackcap, Sand Martin (Tony Brown)


Wanstead Flats: Short-eared Owl, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Willow Warbler, f type Redstart still (6th day), 3 Wheatear, 2 Swift, 4 House Martin, Sand Martin, Swallow, 4 Linnet, 5 Lesser Redpoll (Nick Croft/Dan Hennessy/Jonathan Lethbridge/Bob Vaughan); 4 Wheatear, 1 Male Whinchat, 4 Common Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap (14:00-15:30) (Mark Braun) .Male Whinchat again at 4oc near brooms.G,Gram.
Wanstead Park: Lesser Whitethroat, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Little Egret (Nick Croft/Steve Thorpe/Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: 4 Wheatear, 2 Yellow Wagtail over, 2 Shelduck, 4 Swallow, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Linnet, pr Kestrel (Nick Croft).

Wanstead Park: 8 Gadwall, 4 Common Pochard, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Little Grebe, Willow Warbler, 4 Swift, Buzzard heard, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft).


Wanstead Flats: 2 Reed Warbler Alex, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, Wheatear (Tim Harris/Jono Lethbridge); singing Sedge Warbler, 2 Swift, 4 Swallow, 27 Wheatear, 4 Whinchat, Garden Warbler (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge); Red Kite (Steve Thorpe)


Wanstead Flats: 2 Whinchat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, 2 Shelduck, Yellow Wagtail (Tony Brown/Steve Thorpe)


Wanstead Flats: singing Sedge Warbler east side of Alex, 3 Lesser  Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Little Egret, Wheatear, Linnet, Kestrel (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan/Jonathan Lethbridge/Dan Hennessy/Steve Thorpe)

Wanstead Park: 2 Little Egret, Lesset Whitethroat (Jonathan Lethbridge)

Wanstead Flats: m Whinchat, 4 Wheatear, 2 Shelduck over, 7 singing Lesser Whitethroat, singing Sedge Warbler, 3 Willow Warbler, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Siskin, 3 Linnet, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft/Jonathan Lethbridge/Dan Hennessy/J Ward).


Wanstead Flats: 5 Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Sand Martin, Linnet (Nick Croft)
Wanstead Park: 6 Little Grebe, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, Sparrowhawk, Little Egret (Nick Croft)