26 December 2014

Early retirement (2014 put out of its misery)

The numbers suggest it wasn't such a good year, and I think that is probably true for most London patches, but how can we complain when you think of the great highs and just forget about the dross days.

The Blyth's Reed singing away for the day in May, and remarkably I am still meeting people who turned up after I'd left and for most of them their bird of the year, not surprising I guess as it was only the third London record. The female Lapland Bunting which entertained for two days back in the Autumn.  Those were the big draws in lieu of no Wryneck, but still a good number turned up for the promise of Ring Ouzel, Redstart and Whinchat which didn't disappoint. Local twitches for the second Jack Snipe of the year, and I am beginning to think there are probably more out there than we think; the knackered Kittiwake last January (OK three of us standing in the sheeting rain) and then the silly stuff: Red-crested Pochard, Madarin Duck, Pheasant etc. all in the name of year listing for the patch. Of course there were other single (or two) observer sightings: The Osprey for Dan and I, Bob's heard Curlew, Jono's Hoopoe (that he wont be submitting), Olive-backed Pipit, Rook (yes Rook!), Wood Warbler, Woodlark (only Jono was quick enough to catch up with this as it was a patch lifer for him and hence his speed out of the blocks) to name but a few.

Then there were the days that will live long in the memory not for the quality of the bird(s) maybe, but for the spectacle. The twenty-four Buzzard massing over the park - absolutely amazing, has a greater number of birds been seen at any one time anywhere else in London? Always the joy of the first Wheatear, Whinchat, Redstart, Ouzel and for a few of us this year, the first Lapwing, a real bugger but for me part of one of the best days birding I've ever had on the flats, which included Golden Plover, Dunlin, Snipe, Ring Ouzel, a sizable flock of Brambling and even greater numbers of arriving Redwing.

So my highlights for the year:

The Blyth's you would have thought would be a shoe-in, but basically I am still in self denial over how I could have possibly found something that good. The OBP was great, but it could have stuck around for the others who scampered out to look for it, and while I am convinced (after three more calling birds in Shetland) chances are it will be chucked out by the London Committee. The Lapland Bunting was excellent, especially after the less than satisfactory flyovers from a few years back, but for me my birds of the year were the Osprey and the Rooks.  The former because it was a triple tick (patch, London, year), amazingly close and coming as it did after Jono's words that will long live with Dan and I ("do your worst!") as he travelled to work after leaving us that morning. The Rooks because they were a blocker removed, and I like Rooks.

My prediction for next year: my wish list includes any shrike, a big warbler and a Curlew.

Jono first to replay

Best bird: The Lapland Bunting, but probably the first Wheatear of spring.


Best Bird: Lapland Bunting
Best find: Shelduck (patch tick and blocker removed)
Best occasion: the first spring Ring Ouzel (a very agreeable bird!)
Prediction for 2015: Red-back Shrike (the time to shrike gets ever closer!)


Best Bird: Blyth's Reed Warbler
Best find: Woodcock (patch tick and blocker removed)
Prediction for 2015: Snow Bunting


Best Bird: Lapland Bunting
Best occasion: Autumn's migrants
Prediction for 2015: Black-necked Grebe on the Basin


Best Bird: Lapland Bunting
Best occasion: "Osprey low overhead and Nick's enthusiastic reaction"
Best find: "Slim pickings - Pied Fly less than a minute from my front door felt great"
Prediction for 2015:Yellow-browed Warbler in the Limes in the SSSI

Richard (he did tell me in the pub, but by that time my hearing and memory were compromised)

Best Bird: Lapland Bunting
Best occasion: his first Common Sandpiper which he duly saw and moved on (this could be a scurrilous misrepresentation)
Best find: Tree Pipit/Sedge Warbler

Prediction for 2015: probably a Shrike!

Which leaves the patch competition and no prizes for guessing who won

Nick Croft  126 (3rd time in a row and getting a bit vexing)
Bob Vaughan 113
Dan Hennessy 108
Jonathan Lethbridge 102 (an impressive strike rate considering)
Tim Harris 101
Richard Rae 95
Tony Brown 94 (work is a great handicap)
Josh Self   87

Hard working getting the scores out of these people so watch as the figures change on publication

So 2014 done and although the fat lady hasn't quite sung she was out walking a few dogs on the flats this morning.

3 December 2014

Remember, remember (utterly forgettable) November!

utterly forgettable

The perils of patch working; it can get dull, very dull.  Not so much the fault of the patch itself - it's (virtually) always is good to be out there - it's more the thought of the mile slog there and back in the sure and certain knowledge that you are going to see bugger all.  But hope springs eternal. Of course if we'd nailed a certain pigeon at the beginning of the month it would be a different story.

It was so-oo dull that my camera decided a better course of action would be to ingest a large amount of lime-scale remover (serves me right for even considering cleaning my bath) and while it turns out the move wasn't fatal I still had to purchase a back-up (50D) just in case. I would have gone for the 5d mkII but luckily, or not, my credit card baulked at the idea. A few weeks on the radiator and the 7d is alive, but I should really send it off for a thorough clean just in case the next time it rains it doesn't start frothing up all over the place.

As it transpired the weather was so gloomy that the back-up hardly ever made it out of the bag.  I spoil you.

So that was November.

Oh hang on there's something I usually do around here....

... the highlights (steady now!)

Strap yourselves in

  • Firecrest(s) at Snaresbrook Crown Court become regular for Stu, while Bob finally clinches the birds in Bush Wood
  • Short-eared Owl on the 20th, probably/possibly the same bird as before
  • 1st winter Mediterranean Gull on Jub
  • Yellowhammer calling over the Alex
  • 2 Stonechats early on in the month, one the long-stayer and a new adult male for the day
  • A couple of Brambling records
  • And of course the maybe-mega that got away
Linnet numbers rose and fell on the police scrape (a high of 27 towards the end of the month), Stu had more luck with Redpolls on Leyton Flats with fewer making it further south. Just the one Siskin record, but Bullfinches continued to be seen heard over the flats until the middle of the month. Reed Bunting became scarce again and a calling Yellowhammer an audible highlight on one dull day.

So it's basically about ducks and the rise of Gadwall numbers across the patch.  Still along way to go before reaching the heady highs of the beginning of the year, but added interest comes in the form of a few associated Wigeon. Still not cold enough for any of the ducks we need, though with Dan taking his lunches at the basin this is our best hope.

Redwing numbers dropped to a trickle, but slightly more Fieldfare recorded. Song and Mistle Thrushes may have started singing again but numbers of the former bird have dropped as the migrants have moved on.

Chiffchaff were the only warbler remaining and after being absent for most of the month one appeared in the sedges by Angel and another in the old sewage works. Goldcrest numbers have dropped off on the flats with the birds probably preferring the pickings in the park.

No sign of Water Rail at any of their preferred haunts, but as with everything its not cold enough, even the Snipe haven't really bothered in coming back.

The Corporation did more mowing, this time in the SSSI, and while initially they provide a bonanza for the likes of wagtail, pipits and Green Woodpecker, the bonanza is short-lived and really doesn't make up for all the cover and potential food sources removed. The Skylark are more likely to be found on the police scrape or the footy pitches at this time of the year anyway. Worryingly there are only 7-8 birds left.

So thanks November I am off for my medication

Wanstead Flats: 15 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing, Reed Bunting, 2 Goldcrest, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 3 Teal, Gadwall, 3 Shoveler, 5 Meadow Pipit, Skylark (Nick Croft/BobVaughan)

Wanstead Park: Little Egret, 6 + Little Grebe, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, 60 + Gadwall, 31 Tufted Duck, 16 + Pochard, 6 Shoveler, m Wigeon, 6 + Goldcrest and a blue budgie (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Flats: m Stonechat, 10 Fieldfare, 7 Mistle Thrush, Redpoll sp, 2-3 Bullfinch, 2 Linnet, 2 Reed Bunting, 8 Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, 3 Skylark, 3 Goldcrest, 19 Gadwall, 12 Shoveler, 11 Tufted Duck, m Pochard, 3 + Little Grebe, 2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Flats: Brambling, Linnet, 2 Reed Bunting, 36 Fieldfare, 8 Redwing, 10 + Song Thrush, 300 + Common Gull, 200 + Black-headed Gull, 2 Kestrel, 8 Skylark, 6 Meadow Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtail, Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 15 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler, 3m Teal, 2 f Pochard, 5 Little Grebe, 600 + Wood Pigeon south (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park/Bush Wood: Firecrest, 6 + Goldcrest (Bob Vaughan)

Leyton Flats: Kingfisher, Shoveler, Great Crested Grebe x 2, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay x 2 (RO) Brambling over Gilberts Slade at dawn, 4 Redwing, Linnet, Grey Wagtail, 6+ Goldcrest, 17 Gadwall (Hollow and Eagle Ponds), drake Shoveler, Green Woodpecker, 2 Egyptian Geese (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: 2 Fieldfare, Redwing, 5 Song Thrush, Reed Bunting, 2 Linnet, Skylark, 6 Meadow Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtail, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 3 Teal, 3 Shoveler, Gadwall, 4 Little Grebe (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan) Currently Bob and Rich are trying to track down what could be an exciting bird, Bob and I have poor views of a dove sized (and looking) bird with a longish pin-tail, flushed from beneath trees in the SSSI, dark above with a hint of white on the flank, so if your in the vicinity....

Wanstead Park: 50 Gadwall, 3 Shoveler, 15 Pochard, 40 + Tufted Duck, 4 Little Grebe, 2 Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Sparrowhawk, Goldcrest (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Flats: No sign of "possible" Mourning Dove from yesterday in SSSI (based on our pooled sightings it was the best fit bird after some research), Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, Stonechat male first winter (possibly 2 birds), Redwing, 10 + Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, 4 Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, 4 + Goldcrest (Nick Croft)

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: 2 Firecrest in the Court grounds, 2 Tawny Owl (Gilberts Slade) (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: Stonechat, 40 Fieldfare, 17 Redwing, 7+ Skylark, 3 Meadow Pipits, 4 Pied Wagtail, Linnet, Bulfinch, 5+ Goldcrest, 28 Gadwall, Teal, 5 Pochard, 5 Shoveler, 11 Tufted Duck, 4 Little Grebe, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel (Dan Hennessy/Bob Vaughan/Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 27 Mute Swans, 41 Canada Geese, 12 Egyptian Geese, 4 Eurasian Wigeon, 193 Gadwall, 9 Common Teal, 92 Mallard, 11 Shoveler, 17 Pochard, 40 Tufted Duck, 9 Little Grebe, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Kingfisher, 2 Grey Wagtail (Wren Wildlife Group).

Wanstead Flats: 15 Fieldfare, 6 Song Thrush, Bullfinch, Lesser Redpoll, 2 Linnet, 11 Skylark, Meadow Pipit, 8 Pied Wagtail, 2 Goldcrest, 4 m Teal, 18 Gadwall, 3 Shoveler, 8 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe, 2 Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft/John Weil)

Snaresbrook Crown Court: 2 Firecrest, Treecreeper, Gilberts Slade: Tawny Owl (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: 1st winter Mediterranean Gull, 300 + Common Gull, 200 + Black-headed Gull, 2 Peregrine Falcon (males judging by their size), Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 6 Meadow Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtail, 6 Skylark, 2 Lesser Redpoll, Bullfinch, 2 Linnet, 2 Pochard, 12 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler, 10 + Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe, 5 + Goldcrest (Nick Croft)

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: Firecrest, 4 Lesser Redpoll, 20+ Redwing, 7 Song Thrush, 9 Gadwall, drake Shoveler, 6-7 Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: 10 Fieldfare, Redwing,15+ Song Thrush, 13 Mistle Thrush, 20 + Blackbird, 20 Linnet, 5 Skylark, 15 Meadow Pipit, 5 Pied Wagtail, 3 Goldcrest, Kestrel, 15 + Gadwall, 6 Pochard, 7 Shoveler, m Teal (Nick Croft/Richard Rae/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Flats: 21 Fieldfare, 15 + Song Thrush, 4-6 Skylark, 7 Linnet, 5 Goldcrest, 25 Gadwall, 11 Shoveler, 9 Pochard, m Teal, 2 Little Grebe, 5 Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Kestrel (Wanstead Birding)

Wanstead Park: 10 Teal, 4 Wigeon, 14 Shoveler, 187 Gadwall, 60 + Tufted Duck, 40 Pochard, 5 Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, 2-3 Kingfisher, 10 + Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, 2 Meadow Pipit (Nick Croft)

Leyton Flats: 10+ Redpoll, 3 Bullfinch, Sparrowhawk, 5 + Goldcrest, pr Shoveler, 6 Pochard, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Greater Black-backed Gull. (Joe Dickens and Martha Birungi)

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: Firecrest, Grey Wagtail, 4 Goldcrest, Fieldfare, 6 Gadwall, 3 Egyptian Geese, 39 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 2 Great crested Grebe (Stuart Fisher). There are 2 areas at Snaresbrook Crown Court, first the copse east of Eagle Pond in the ivy covered trees not far from pedestrian entrance, secondly one roosts in the giant Laurel hedge near the lower visitor car park towards the NW side of the Court grounds, this can often be detected (its often very vocal) from over the fence in Leyton Flats as it sometimes heads off in that direction early in the morning (SF).

Wanstead Flats: 10 + Meadow Pipit, 10 + Pied Wagtail on newly cut area in SSSI, 8 Skylark, 7 Linnet, 4 Redwing, 10 + Song Thrush including 4 singing birds, 2 Mistle Thrush, 44 Gadwall, 12 Shoveler, 3 Teal, 2 Pochard, 10 + Tufted Duck, Little Grebe (Nick Croft); 5 Pied Wagtail, Fieldfare, 3 Mistle Thrush, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 5 Green Woodpecker, 6 Jay (RO)

Wanstead Flats: Short-eared Owl (flew in from east over Alex, then chased by crows flew high east again), Little Owl (BV), Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 9 Linnet, Siskin, 30 + Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Redwing, 10 + Song Thrush, 5 Mistle Thrush, 4+ Goldcrest, 15 + Meadow Pipit, 15 Pied Wagtail, 5 Skylark, 54 Gadwall, 5 Teal, Pochard, 17 Shoveler, 8 Egyptian Goose, 10 + Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Stock Dove (Bob Vaughan/Nick Croft)

Snaresbrook/Leyton Flats: 2 Firecrest in the big Laurel hedge and nearby scrub NW end of Court early morning, 9+ Lesser Redpoll, Fieldfare, 4 Redwing, Grey Wagtail, 7 Stock Dove, Kingfisher, 20 Gadwall, 2 Great crested Grebe, Coal Tit (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: 47 Fieldfare, 20 Redwing, 9 Mistle Thrush (1 singing), Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, 2 Bullfinch, 9 Linnet, 10 Meadow Pipit, 8 + Pied Wagtail, 5 Skylark, 2 Goldcrest, 4 Pochard, 5 Teal, 12 Shoveler, 54 Gadwall, Egyptian Goose, 3 Little Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (Bob Vaughan/Nick Croft)

Wanstead Flats: 4 Fieldfare, 15 Linnet, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 10+ Meadow Pipit, 5 Pied Wagtail, c.50 Gadwall, 6 Teal, 15 Shoveler, 4 Little Grebe, 6 Skylark, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Snaresbrook/Leyton Flats: 1-2 Firecrest in buddleias near laurel hedge in Court, 8 Fieldfare, Siskin N, Lesser Redpoll, 6 Shoveler, 34 Gadwall, Kingfisher, Meadow Pipit, Nuthatch, Great Crested Grebe, Sparrowhawk (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: m Bullfinch, Kestrel, Goldcrest Long Wood; 4 Skylark, 16 Linnet Police Scrape; Snipe, Lesser Redpoll, 2 Fieldfare SSSI (Bob Vaughan)

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: Firecrest at roost spot, 14 Lesser Redpoll, Common Buzzard SW over Leytonstone at 12.33, Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 28 Gadwall, 2 Redwing, 5 Shoveler (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: 27 Linnet, 5 Skylark, 10 Meadow Pipit, 5 Pied Wagtail, 3 Goldcrest, 3 Fieldfare, 60 Gadwall, 12 Shoveler, 20 TuftedDuck, 2 Pochard, m Teal, Little Grebe, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Snaresbrook Crown Court: Firecrest (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: Yellowhammer, 10 + Linnet, 4 Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, Goldcrest, Fieldfare, Sparrowhawk, 71 Gadwall, 33 Shoveler, Teal, 20 + Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 89 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler, 31 Pochard, 30 + Tufted Duck, 3 Egyptian Goose, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Goldcrest (Nick Croft)

Snaresbrook Crown Court: 1-2 Firecrest early morning (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: Chiffchaff, 20 Fieldfare, 12 Linnet, 13 + Goldfinch, 10 Chaffinch, 1-2 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Pied Wagtail, 3 Pochard, 54 Gadwall, 14 Shoveler, 200 + Starling, 600 + Common Gull, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Snaresbrook Crown Court: Firecrest still at dawn (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: 8 Mute Swan, 381 Canada Geese, 8 Greylags, 40 Mallard, 8 Shoveler, 27 Gadwall, 2 Pochard, 19 Tufted Duck, 3 Little Grebe, 31 Moorhen, 88 Coot, 79 Black-headed Gull, 273 Common Gull, 2 Skylark, 6 Meadow Pipit, Goldcrest, 16 Linnet (Tim Harris)

29 November 2014

Beware of these dogs

Walking through the SSSI at about 09-00 this morning, I’d just got to the limes when I saw a couple with two large, pale, bull mastiff-type dogs. I smiled as the dogs barked (you get used to it on the Flats) and they were, ineffectually, called back so I ignored them, walking on with hands in pockets. The man said “Hello” and the woman said “It’s OK, they won’t bite” but I slowed as they were coming towards me and the lead dog jumped up and bit my right hand through my jacket. I hadn’t made any gesture or comment during this time. Embarrassed the woman walked on and the man slipped the leads on the dogs. I said "Hang on, your dog just bit me" and showed the man my wounded hand. They just walked off and although I said I would have to report the incident they were not inclined to give me their address. So I said "Smile" and took a picture:

My wounds are superficial, but this was through my jacket, which is now presumably less windproof. The cut on the edge of my palm is quite deep and stings three hours later. 

If I had been a child and flapped my hands or run away I hate to think what might have happened. These were big, strong apparently aggressive dogs off lead. My daughter is disabled and if they had leaped-up at her she would have fallen over which may have resulted in a fight. If you see these dogs please be wary, on the plus side their owners had collected their faeces up.

All I have to report is 4 Redwing, 8 Fieldfare and two Mistle Thrush around the brooms.

9 November 2014

October: Stonechat time

There were other birds, but I didn't take too many pictures of them, mainly Stonechat.  And it's great, after too many years of having one or two short stayers, we've had virtually constant Stonechat action in the brooms since sometime (I forget when) in September. Of course on the last day of the month they'd disappeared again, much like they did when I was in Shetland.

And there were a few other goodies:

  • Star bird: Lapland Bunting, on the deck, showy (in a fashion), calling and a two day little wonder.
  • For the first time in years I don't predict a good Brambling year and we have our best Brambling year with one day of 30 + birds
  • A Siskin and Redpoll dribble, a Bullfinch breakout on to the flats
  • Lapwing on the list at last and a subsequent rainy day count of 60
  • A record Golden Plover count of 15 on the same rainy day
  • The first Dunlin for two years, ditto the rainy day
  • A good Ouzel passage with some very obliging birds
  • Yellow-legged Gulls pass me by again
  • Valentino returns, again, and again...
  • Firecrest back in Bush Wood (hooray! don't have to go back there till the new year)
  • Possible tardy Tree Pipit
  • Only two Short-eared Owl sightings this month
  • And bon voyage to our late summer visitors: Wheatear, Swallow and Sand Martin
  • Treecreeper in the park on the 7th

Off went the last of the summer's migrants; no Whinchats at all this October, but a couple of Wheatear hung on till the middle of the month.  Just the two warbler noted this month and their numbers ebbed away leaving those brave (probably German birds - yet to arrive) few birds that over-winter.  In their place have come Goldcrest, not in the high cold weather numbers, but in every scrap of woodland.  Stu's had Firecrest on and off most of the autumn, but now they have returned to Bush Wood.  He also had the latest Sand Martin on the 10th, while a few game Swallow were still were still undecided on which way south was.

Mipit numbers peaked early on, and then fell back to less than 10 birds by the end of the month, scattered across the flats.  Maybe some more will turn up if gets cold on the continent. Skylark numbers are down on last year, but the bulk have already opted for the fairground where they have been joined by a few Linnet.

Not a great vis-mig year for finches, though small parties of Brambling (20 strong) moved through in the middle of the month.  Few Redpoll and fewer Siskin, but as usual a lot of UFOs (unidentified finches over), which is annoying. Rather unexpectedly it has been a good autumn for Bullfinches, not in the Old Sewage Works, but on the flats, but we are still waiting for our annual Crossbill. Then of course there was the first winter female Lapland Bunting (thought it was going to be a bugger; turned out to be a doozy crowd puller), it could have stayed longer without boring people.  Stu had the only other bunting of note, a Yellowhammer on the 22nd.

Pochard down, Gadwall up was the trend for ducks this month, with a smattering of Wigeon (a high of 8 on the 19th may well be a record), again we need a cold snap or some diabolical weather to get some interesting stuff (Goldeneye, Goosander etc.).  No sign of our wintering rails and with the water levels rising on the roding, it looks like there won't be too many Little Egrets coming our way.

Look away now it's gull time: Oh yes!  Hurtling up are numbers of Common Gulls, dragging with them an influx of Black-headed Gulls and the veteran Valentino, splitting his time between here, Valentine's Park and South Park (Ilford) - he's a busy bird. October is usually the best month for Yellow-legs, and usually miss them by being up in Shetland, this time I missed them by being much closer and in bed.  Again bring on some crappy weather and something interesting might pop up amongst them.  You can but hope!

Of the raptors it was Kestrel, Sparrowhawk or nothing.  OK! one Buzzard. Still time for a Merlin (the two year rule being called upon here).

There was of course the one day I will not forget in a hurry, the 13th, not unlucky at all, just extremely grim and mucky.  The kind of grim and mucky we like and provided you don't die of hypothermia, the kind of day to make birding worthwhile. A great cast of hundreds of Redwing, 60 Lapwing, 15 Golden Plover, Dunlin, Snipe, Ouzels, Brambling and even a trio of Swallow, which has put us back in with a chance of getting a pretty decent score for the year. One things for sure if the weather doesn't turn rubbish soon, there are still dragonfly and butterfly flapping around ffs, we aren't going to achieve parity. So away with these boring southerlies, a bit of arctic weather is what we need to warm our birding hearts...

Wanstead Flats: 2 m Stonechat (1W/Ad), f Wheatear, 30 + Meadow Pipit, 5 Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 6 Swallow, 15+ Chiffchaff, Blackcap, 4 Goldcrest, Reed Bunting, 10 + Goldfinch, 30 + Gadwall, 4 Teal, 2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft/Josh Selfe)

Wanstead Flats: Ad m Stonechat, 30 + Meadow Pipit, 5 Grey Wagtail, 3 Pied Wagtail, 2 Skylark, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 2 Wigeon, 2 Egyptian Goose, 6 Pochard, 4 Teal, 10 + Gadwall, Shoveler, 7 Common Gull, 13 Chiffchaff, 5 Blackcap, 6 Goldcrest, 20 + Linnet, Reed Bunting (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan) 2 Shelduck east over w Flats (Josh Selfe)

Wanstead Flats: Lapwing (mega! first for year), 3 Stonechat, 10 Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, 5 + Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcap, 2 Skylark, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 7 Common Gull, 5 Linnet, 2 Teal, 5 Goldcrest (Dan Hennessy/Nick Croft/Sally Hammond)

Wanstead Park: 2 Wigeon, 20 + Gadwall, 20 + Pochard, 3 Shoveler, 30 + Tufted Duck, 3 Goldcrest, Little Egret, Meadow Pipit, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 2 Chiffchaff (Dan Hennessy/Nick Croft/Sally Hammond)

Wanstead Flats: m Ring Ouzel fly through, Lapwing, 2 Stonechat, Wigeon, six Teal, ten Shoveller, Goldcrest, 20 + Meadow Pipits, 4 Skylark (Dan Hennessy, John Weil, Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Flats: Stonechat, Reed Bunting, 7 Linnet, 3 Chiffchaff, 4 Skylark (Dan Hennessy and Bob Vaughan, T Harris, Debbie Burkett)

Wanstead Park: Common Buzzard, Nuthatch, Treecreeper (Tim Harris, Debbie Burkett, Cath McEwan, Dan Hennessy)

Wanstead Flats: 2 Goldcrest (Longwood),Kestrel, Green and G spotted Woodpeckers,Jay, 2 Meadow Pipits (G Gram)

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: m Tawny Owl calling and singing from oak on court perimeter with Leyton Flats at 07:00, Common Buzzard low S at 08:10, Nuthatch, 3 Shoveler, 3 Gadwall, 4 Chiffchaff, Grey Wagtail, 7 Goldcrest (Stuart Fisher)

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: m Firecrest in laurel hedge in Court, Tawny Owl calling (Gilberts Slade), 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 f/imm Teal, 3 Gadwall, 3 Shoveler, Meadow Pipit, Sparrowhawk, c5 Goldcrest (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: 50 Common, 12 Lesser Black-back and 6 Herring Gull Football pitches, 3 Teal Alex; 20 Linnet, 4 Skylark Fairground.

Wanstead Flats: M Ring Ouzel N brooms, 2 Reed Bunting and 3 Goldcrest brooms, 12 Linnet fairground, 2 Egyptian geese Jubilee Pond (Bob Vaughan)

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: m Ring Ouzel on Flats, later seen from Court flying high N over Epping Forest, Firecrest (singing briefly), 6 Goldcrest, 7 Skylark W, 20+ Chaffinch (most S), 15 Greenfinch, 13 Linnet over, Kingfisher, 1-2 Reed Bunting S, 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Sand Martin NE, 5+ Meadow Pipit plus a lot of unidentified finches S, 6 Shoveler, 3 Gadwall, 2 Grey Wagtail, 15+ Jay, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: f Ring Ouzel briefly SSSI, 6 to max 11 Skylark, 2 Reed Bunting, 8 Linnet, 15 Lesser Black-back 10 Herring and 20 Common Gull footy pitch, 6 Egyptian Geese, scattered Mpipits, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. (Dan Hennessy and Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Flats: Stonechat (still 1st w male), Wheatear, 8 Chiffchaff, Blackcap, poss. Tree Pipit (Long Wood), 30 +Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, 6 + Skylark, 14 + Linnet, 1+ Reed Bunting, 45 Gadwall, 3 Teal, f Pochard, 9 Shoveler, 2 Goldcrest, 10 + Song Thrush, 12 Common Gull, 2 Yellow-legged Gull (early morning nr Bush Wood), 2 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk (Dan Hennessy/Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan/Sally Hammond)

Wanstead Park: 2 Firecrest (w side Bush Wood), 15 Mute Swan, 31 Canada Geese, 2 Greylage Geese, 78 Mallard, 5 Wigeon, 10 Shoverler, 101 Gadwall, 8 Teal, 21 Pochard, 33 Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, 5 Great Crested Grebe (Basin), 6 Grey Heron, Little Egret, 4 Cormorant, 2 Kingfisher, 2 Grey Wagtail, Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (Tim Harris/Sally Hammond/Nick Croft)

Wanstead Flats 10:00-18:00: 2 male Ring Ouzel, 1500+ Redwing, 1 Fieldfare, 20 + Song Thrush, 30 + Blackbird, 2 Stonechat, 2 Wheatear, c.5000 Starling, 20 + Skylark, 30 + Meadow Pipit, 20 Linnet, 15 Brambling, 20 + Chaffinch, 2 Reed Bunting, 7 Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest, 15 Golden Plover, 60 Lapwing, 2 Common Snipe, Dunlin, 6 Pochard, 3 Teal, 30 + Gadwall, 9 Shoveler, 2 Egyptian Goose, 20 + Common Gull, 3 Swallow (Nick Croft/Richard Rae)

Wanstead Flats: 3-6 Ring Ouzel (Long Wood and brooms area), c 2000 Redwing, 3 Fieldfare, 50 + Song Thrush, 3 Stonechat, Wheatear, 50 + Goldfinch, 8 Linnet, 20 Chaffinch, Brambling, Reed Bunting, 20 + Meadow Pipit, 8 Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Common Snipe, 3 Teal, 4 Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, 2 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk, 30 + Common Gull, 2 Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, 3 Swallow (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan/Richard Rae/Dan Hennessy et al) Ring Ouzel seen again at 2.45 at brooms area.( G. Gram.), Mediterranean Gull (Richard Rae).

Wanstead Park: 3 Wigeon Heronry (Dan Hennessy).

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook Firecrest, 400+ Redwing over between dawn and 10am, 5 Goldcrest, Coal Tit, 11 Greenfinch, Little Egret by pond, Grey Wagtail, Muntjac barking from Court grounds (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: Short-eared Owl, Mediterranean Gull (BV), 2 Ring Ouzel still, 40 + Song Thrush, several hundred Redwing, 2 Stonechat, 20 + Meadow Pipit, 20 Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 12 Skylark, 3 Chiffchaff, Blackcap, 7 Linnet, 20 + Chaffinch (Bob Vaughan/Wanstead Birders)

Wanstead Park: 7 Wigeon (basin), Common Buzzard (Jonathan Lethbridge/Tim Harris)

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: Tawny Owl 06:40, 950+ Redwing over at least from dawn to 09:30, 4 Skylark (3 of which low SE), Ring Ouzel (heard), Firecrest, 6 Goldcrest, 10+ Goldfinch, 8 Linnet, 300+ Starling N, several Chaffinch over, 25+ Song Thrush over, 4-5 migrant Blackbirds, Swallow S, 18 Meadow Pipit, 2-3 Grey Wagtail (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: Lapland Bunting, 4 Reed Bunting, 2 Ring Ouzel still, Brambling, many Song Thrush, 2 Stonechat, Bullfinch, 10 + Linnet, 20 + Chaffinch, 20 + Meadow Pipit, 10 + Skylark, 4 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest, 15 Shoveler, 10 Gadwall (Nick Croft/Richard Rae/Bob Vaughan/John Weil) Lapland Bunting still present at dark, Mediterranean Gull (Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Flats: Lapland Bunting still in grassland south of Alex, 2 Stonechat, 100 + Redwing, 20 + Song Thrush, Fieldfare, 2 Reed Bunting, 10+ Chaffinch, 20+ Linnet, flock of presumed Brambling over, 20+ Meadow Pipit, 3 Pied Wagtail, 10+ Skylark, 100+ Wood Pigeon commuting south, Gadwall, Shoveler, 2 Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff (one singing), 2 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Yellow-legged Gull Bush Wood early doors (Wanstead Birding)

Wanstead Park: 5 Wigeon, 5 Great Crested Grebe (Basin), 25 Redwing, Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher (Richard Rae/Jono Lethbridge)

Wanstead Flats: No sign Lapland Bunting, Yellow-legged Gull, Mediterranean Gull (Dan Hennessy).

Wanstead Flats: 4 Stonechat, Yellow-legged Gull, Mediterranean Gull, 3 Snipe, 10 + Linnet, Swallow, Goldcrest, Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff, 35 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler (Wanstead Birders)

Wanstead Park: 2 Kingfisher, 8 Wigeon, 52 Gadwall, 50 + Tufted Duck 15 Pochard, 8 Goldcrest, grey Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, Redwing (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Flats: Short-eared Owl one flushed from SSSI, 6 Brambling, 4 Siskin, 8 Lesser Redpoll, 20+ Chaffinch, 10+ Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, 4 Stonechat still centre rd car park, 52 Gadwall, 3 Teal, 10 Shoveler, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 20+ Meadow Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtail, 6 Skylark, Stock Dove, 2 Goldcrest, 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Redwing (Nick Croft/Birdguides).

Wanstead Flats: Mediterranean Gull, Stonechat, 3 Redwing, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, 5 Meadow Pipit, 2 Skylark, Reed Bunting, 22 Gadwall, 4 Pochard, 3 Teal, 9 Shoveler, 10 + Tufted Duck, 2 Egyptian Goose, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Snaresbrook Crown Court: Firecrest (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: 35 + Brambling, 3 Bullfinch, 10 + Linnet, 15 + Chaffinch, 20 + Greenfinch, 10 + Goldfinch, 3 Stonechat still, 20 + Meadow Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtail, 8 Skylark, 7-8 Chiffchaff, 5 + Goldcrest, 11 Gadwall, 4 Teal, 8 Shoveler, 3 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk, several hundred Wood Pigeon through (Nick Croft).

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: Yellowhammer low N calling, Firecrest in copse near Eagle Pond in court grounds, 7 Goldcrest, 3-4 Linnet over, 8+ Meadow Pipit over, 2 Pied Wagtail, Kingfisher, 750+ Woodpigeon S (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: Common Snipe, 10 Linnet, 15 + Chaffinch, 3 Reed Bunting, 10 + Meadow Pipit, 5 + Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 5 Skylark, 5 Chiffchaff, 5 + Goldcrest, 20 + Song Thrush, 10 Redwing, 3 Stonechat, Kestrel, 4 Teal, 20 + Gadwall, 5 Shoveler, f Pochard, 2 Egyptian Goose, 3 Little Grebe, 50 + Common Gull (Bob Vaughan/Nick Croft)

Leyton Flats: Gadwall 2, Great Crested Grebe 2, Heron 1, Jay 6, Collard Dove 1, Herring Gull 1, Shoveler 2, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest 1 seen 2 more heard. (RO)

Wanstead Flats: Brambling over SSSi, Common Buzzard, 2 Reed Bunting, 3 Linnet, 3 Little Grebe, 2 Teal, 5 Egyptian Geese, 12 Pied Wagtail, 8 Skylark, Chiffchaff (Bob Vaughan) 3 Stonechat (brooms), Kestrel, 4 Jay,(G.Gram).

Wanstead Flats: Med. Gull, 3 Stonechat, 2 Reed Bunting, Sparrowhawk, 4 Skylark, 10 Meadow Pipit, 8 Linnet, (Tony Brown, Dan Hennessy, Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: 4 Wigeon on ornamentals (Kathy Hartnett)

Wanstead Flats: 4 Bullfinch, Brambling, Siskin, 16 + Linnet, Reed Bunting, 30 + Redwing, 10 + Song Thrush, 3 Stonechat, 10 + Meadow Pipit, 5 Pied Wagtail, 4 Chiffchaff, Blackcap, 4 Goldcrest, 6 + Skylark, 2 + Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 1000 + Wood Pigeon, 3 Shoveler, 2 Teal, 3 Pochard, Clouded Yellow, 2 Holly Blue, 2 Red Admiral (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Wigeon still on ornamentals (Neil H)

Wanstead Flats: 3 Stonechat, Redwing, 20+ Song Thrush, 2-3 Bullfinch, 10+ Linnet, Siskin (h), 10+ Chaffinch, 2+ Reed Bunting, Chiffchaff (h), 3+ Goldcrest, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 100+ Common Gull, 4 m Teal, 3 Shoveler, 20+ Tufted Duck, 12 Gadwall, 8 Pochard, 7 Little Grebe, 10+ Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, 3 Skylark (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Flats: 2 Siskin, 30 + Goldfinch, 15+ Pied Wagtail, 10 + Meadow Pipit, Skylark, 20 + Song Thrush, 14 Redwing, 3 Stonechat, 11 Shoveler, 6 Gadwall, 4 male Teal, f Pochard, Little Grebe, Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 52 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler, 13 Pochard, 40 + Tufted Duck, 24 Mute Swan, 5 Little Grebe, 3 Siskin, Bullfinch, 20 + Goldfinch, 6 + Goldcrest, 3 Grey Wagtail, 20 + Redwing (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Flats: 2 Stonechat, 30 + Redwing, Fieldfare (h), 10 + Song Thrush, 6 Mistle Thrush, Chiffchaff, 6 + Goldcrest, 7 Linnet, 20 Chaffinch, 10 + Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 4 Skylark, 6 Pochard, 8 Teal, 10 + Gadwall, 6 Shoveler, 20 Tufted Duck (Nick Croft/Richard Rae)

Wanstead Flats: 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Bullfinch, 6+ Linnet, 2 Goldcrest, 3 Redwing, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 2 Teal (Nick Croft)