30 March 2016


Late! Late! Late!

 Disappointed man goes to work wheatearless, again!

And Lady Luck smiles on Marco, Bob and I.  A few Swallow through, no sign of Jono's early Yellowhammer, we try our luck down at the Alex wheatearless.  I sense grumblings in the ranks as nothing is happening down at the pond.  Big bins then spots two interesting duck, that were not Egyptian Goose, just before a tree gets in the way.  The other side of the tree I pick them up again, Shelduck.  Bob needs them, but foolishly has wandered off.  He finally spots them after we shout a few times in his direction, but is grumpy as his 10x magnification is not giving the tick he wanted.  Ziessgeist!

We amble back checking the barrage balloon hitches. I hear a Reed Bunting somewhere close and another Swallow sweeps through. While I struggle with the intricacies of texting, both of them are off again. Something catches my eye in the brooms where the Reed Bunting had appeared.  A flash of white rump.  Oh yes they are here....

23 March 2016

Hoody Bob

A phone call from Bob, the most exciting thing about the morning so far, and he says he has a Hooded Crow at Alex–but both James and myself are Alex and there is no sign of Bob and only a luecistic crow to be seen.  Has it finally happened, those age things?  His directions do nothing to suggest otherwise.  "In a tree south side of Alex".  We are south side of Alex. "North side then!"

We find him looking at empty trees–the evidence is mounting. He's is adamant.  I truck off back the way I came and sure enough the old bugger is right. A hoodie, my second, aloof in a tree of its own. A bit timid it takes a dislike to my appearance and flies off further to the west and perches up again.  By the time I arrive there it's headed back east towards the others. Tick #100 for Mr Heal (very pleased), and another one over Mr L for "hoodie" Bob (very, very pleased).

Presumably the same bird as seen in south London last week or so, the bird was largely ignored by the resident corvid community, such a change from last year when Dan and my bird was chased unceremoniously off patch by a gang of crows.  Probably because they didn't have young or eggs to defend.

Good work Mr Bob.

Hoodie in the Hood

I thought I would get up early and find the first patch Wheatear, but it didn't happen. James had a similar plan, so we split up and scoured the Flats but failed to find any migrants. I decided to try the Park, and ended up attempting to tape lure a Cetti's under the pylon on the Roding. Things were getting desperate. Heading back via the Alex, I detoured for a Bounty bar, so it must have been the sugar rush. 
The first bird I saw, distantly perched in a tree leaning over the north side of Alex was surely a Hooded Crow. Double take as it immediately flew down - had to be - ultra patch Mega. 

I phoned Nick and told him I had a Hoodie on the South side of Alex, which is where he and James were standing. They were sceptical until I calmed down enough to get my bearings and adjust my directions. The bird then flew.

Luckily it landed and although distant I managed my usual bad photos. It then moved again.

James and Nick appeared and I explained where the bird was likely to be and we split up to try to relocate. Nick saw it from the south side and it flew back for James and I to get some photos as it perched out. It was quite restless and not associating with the other crows who were happy to ignore it.

 Yay! London and Patch tick, the sun burst through the clouds and a choir of angels started singing. However, after flying around the Alex again the Hoodie set off determinedly to the south, no doubt over Nick's house and on towards the Thames.

19 March 2016

Spring migration: It's happening–just not here!

Sand Martin, Swallow, Ring Ouzel, Willow Warbler, Wheatear–they're back! If you live in the west of the country that is, while we here on the east are still gripped by a wintery chill wind from the continent. So we wait.  We are good at this.  We are always waiting.

Meanwhile on the Perch Pond a pair of Great Crested Grebe are in the process of making a nest.  Right up the west end of the lake it is only a few metres out from the path.  Oh dear!  With the news of a Mute Swan being killed by one of the hundreds of unruly mutts and their stoopid owners, I can see it ending in disaster.  It will be great for pictures if the Corporation can inform their contractors, due to starting clearing the invasive floating weed, to keep a wide berth and if they muster up the conviction to help the birds from unwanted dog attack.  OK neither of those will happen, luckily these birds usually build a few nests before settling down to the task at hand, so before disturbance becomes fatal they might choose somewhere less accessible.

And a little something for you gull lovers.  Ugly has returned to Jubilee with a vengeance.  I give you two birds to consider. The first, darvik ringed (so no chance of getting any information off that) and teh second I think looks pretty good for a 1-2 winter Yellow-legged.  Shoot me down now!

and number 2

Of course I could look at my Larson (and again when I would have woken up!), but where's the fun in that.

17 March 2016


Looking like it's got some of the body armour normally associated with a Marvel super-hero...

3 March 2016

Siskin season

Usually high up in the alders in the Dell, these little charmers (if you can forget their eating habits which leave a lot to be desired), are now foraging further afield–and now they're singing.  Got to love that electronic zzzzzzzzzzz that punctuates the song. At last they are coming within range of the sigma and becoming a lot more approachable.

1 March 2016

TFFT: Flacid February falls flat

So it was the toilet as we had feared, but February is now over and we can look forward to a whole heap of goodies to help us forget. 

Just the 72 species for the month and just the one new bird–a Common Buzzard–which Bob and I nearly missed as we talked through Gravitational Wave Theory, by the side of Shoulder of Mutton, one not too unpleasant morn towards the end of the month. Luckily a crow spoke to us and we looked up.

The other highlights were:

  • The Caspian Gull visited, and apparently visits the Eagle Pond in Snaresbrook
  • The only Firecrest we could be bothered with, lingered in Long Wood till near the end of the month, but may now be checking bus times from the brambles on Lake House Road. Stu did rather better round by Gilbert's Slade
  • A record 27 Teal in the Park on the 27th 
  • The wintering Stonechat lingers till the end of the month, and the first migrant of Spring–a male on Angel on the 28th
  • The Little Owl may be two, but probably not...
  • Skylark numbers on the rise, with 6 birds (3-4 singing) by the end of the month.  Now we need a few females and the new signage promised for this week will serve a purpose, though still be widely ignored.
  • 4-5 Water Rail reported through the month

Shoveler numbers held up through the month, while Gadwall looked to be making a small come back towards the end, it is a good time for Teal though. Very few Little Grebe making the selves known, and only a pair of Great Crested Grebe on the Basin (virtually the only birds of note there) and a single adult and a 1st winter bird doing the rounds in the park, but with water levels still low on Heronry, perhaps not surprising. But low water levels could be interesting for wader movement, or for prolonging low levels of interest.

Siskin have split in to smaller groups with one at the south end of Bush Wood and a few hanging on in the Dell, but Redpoll have not been seen anywhere for some time. A lesson I learnt this month is don't take pictures of finches while they are eating–they are extremely messy feeders!

The one wintering Chiffchaff is most likely to be stumbled across by the stables, but no Blackcap were noted for February. In a few weeks they will be singing everywhere. Which brings us on nicely to the strange sub-song of the Redwing–I would love to hear a Fieldfare give it some–now emanating from an Ivy clump near you.

Lets agree not to do February next year.


Wanstead Flats: Firecrest, Stonechat, 11 Linnet, 2 Skylark, 24 Tufted Duck, 4 Pochard, 15 Shoveler, 12 Gadwall, 15 Egyptian Goose (Nick Croft).


Wanstead Flats: Caspian Gull briefly on Alex, Fieldfare, Redwing Siskin, Kestrel, 11 Shoveler, 5 Pochard, 6 Gadwall, 3 Tufted Duck, 10 Egyptian Goose (Nick Croft/Peter Brinton)


Wanstead Flats: 6 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler, 3 Pochard, 2 Tufted Duck, 7 Egyptian Goose, Little Grebe, Reed Bunting, Linnet, Stonechat, Goldcrest (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan) Report of Yellowhammer singing in SSSI from last week in December

Wanstead Park: Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 6 Redwing, 2 Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, 10 + Siskin, 5 + Redpoll, 20 + Goldfinch, 29 Shoveler, 9 Gadwall, 11 Tufted Duck, 6 Pochard, 4 Teal, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe (Nick Croft)

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: 3 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Siskin, 2 Coal Tit, Nuthatch, singing Treecreeper, 14 Shoveler, 3 Gadwall, 63 Tufed Duck (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead Flats: 6 Linnet, 4 Siskin, Redpoll, 5 Meadow Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtail, 2 Kestrel, Fieldfare, 8-10 singing Song Thrush, Stonechat, 14 Shoveler, 8 Gadwall, 4 Pochard, 22 Tufted Duck, 18 Egyptian Goose, 2 Goldcrest (Nick Croft/Peter Brinton)


Wanstead Flats: 10 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, 4 Pochard, 4 Tufted Duck, 8 Egyptian Goose, Little Grebe, Goldcrest, Kestrel, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, 6+ Great Spotted Woodpecker (Nick Croft/John Whele)

Wanstead Park: Nuthatch (Bob Vaughan).


Wanstead Flats: Stonechat, 12 Linnet, 2 Redpoll, 4 Gadwall, 5 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe, 2 Meadow Pipit, Fieldfare (Tony Brown/James Heal/Anita McCullough)


Wanstead Flats:  2 Skylark (Rose Stephens), Stonechat, Peregrine Falcon f, 2 Kestrel, 19 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard,  3 Shoveler, 2 Egyptian Goose (Jubilee pond), 2 Goldcrest (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: 16 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 4 Teal, 15 Tufted Duck, 4 Pochard, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Stock Dove, 4 Redpoll, 4 Goldcrest, Little Egret (Nick Croft/James Heal)


Wanstead Flats: Stonechat, 2 Mistle Thrush, 6 singing Song Thrush, 4 Kestrel, 2 Great Black-backed Gull, 2 pairs of Stock Dove, 20 Tufted Duck, 7 Pochard, 9 Shoveler, 6 Teal (3 displaying males to one female), 7 Gadwall, 6 Egyptian Goose, Little Grebe, 12 Linnet (Nick Croft/Peter Brinton)

Wanstead Park: Water Rail sharming, Grey Wagtail, Redpoll, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Tufted Duck, Pochard, 8 Shoveler (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: Firecrest (still Long Wood), Goldcrest, 3 Skylark (one singing bird), Meadow Pipit, 20 + Goldfinsh, 4 Linnet, 6 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 2 Egyptian Goose, 3 Tufted Duck, 1 f Pochard, Little Grebe, 2 Stock Dove,  Kestrel (Nick Croft/James Heal)

Wanstead Park: 2 Nuthatch, 13 + Siskin, 10 + singing Song Thrush, 3 Mistle Thrush (one singing), 6 Redwing,  5 Stock Dove, 39 Shoveler, 8 Pochard, 11 Teal, 4 Gadwall, 15 Tufted Duck, 2 Egytian Goose, Water Rail, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, 3 Goldcrest (Nick Croft)


Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: 2 Firecrest (including a singing male, 100m north of car park along path to Gilberts Slade, in Hollies), Nuthatch, 2-3 Coal Tit, 18 Redwing, 2 Egyptian Goose, 20 Shoveler, Gadwall, pr Great crested Grebe, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead Flats: Caspian Gull (Jamie Partridge)
Snaresbrook: Caspian Gull on Eagle Pond (possibly same bird as Wanstead Flats) (Stephen Harris)


Wanstead Flats: Stonechat, Gadwall, 4 Pochard, * Egyptian Goose, 5 Meadow Pipit, 2 Skylark (Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: 8-12 Redwing, 24 Shoveler, 6 Teal (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: Firecrest (Still west end Long Wood), 2 Goldcrest, Meadow Pipit, singing Skylark, Stonechat, 8 Shoveler, 4 Pochard, 6 Tufted Duck, 3 Egyptian Goose, Little Grebe, Grey Heron (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: 5 Teal, 26 Shoveler, 10 Gadwall, 4 Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, 2 Coal Tit, Redpoll, Siskin, Nuthatch (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: singing Skylark, Meadow Pipit, 2 Kestrel, 4 Gadwall, 2 Pochard, f Tufted Duck, 3 Egyptian Goose, 1-2 Little Grebe (nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Great Crested Grebe, 12 Teal, 17 Tufted Duck, 5 Pochard, 22 Shoveler, 6 Gadwall, 3 Egyptian Goose, 1-2 Sparrowhawk, Nuthatch, Goldcrest, 5 Stock Dove, 3 Redpoll, 18 + Siskin, Little Egret (Nick Croft)

Leyton Flats: Firecrest in hollies South of Gilberts Slade c2pm, Treecreeper, Nuthatch (Stuart Fisher) 


Wanstead Flats: 1w m Stonechat, 2 Redwing, 2 Skylark, 6 Pied Wagtail, 7 Linnet, 23 + Greenfinch, 3 Stock Dove, Little Grebe, 21 Tufted Duck, 7 Pochard, 7 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 3 Egyptian Goose, 3 unidentified small geese NW, Sparrowhawk, 3 Kestrel, 5 Goldcrest (Nick Croft)

Snaresbrook, Gilberts Slade: Tawny Owl heard 06.15 (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead Flats: 5 Shoveler, 5 Gadwall, 2 Teal, 7 Tufted Duck, 3 Egyptian Goose, 2 Little Grebe, 2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, singing Greenfinch, Great Black-backed Gull (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: 16 Teal, 30 Shoveler, 20 Tufted Duck, 6 Pochard, 3 Little Grebe, 2 Great Crested Grebe, Water Rail, Redpoll, Siskin, Coal Tit, 4 Stock Dove (2 singing), 2 Goldcrest, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: WeBS 1200 Common Gull, 380 Black-headed Gull, 13 Herring Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, 92 Coot, 36 Moorhen, 179 Canada Goose, 46 Greylag Goose, 20 Tufted Duck, 7 Pochard, 86 Mallard, 8 Shoveler, 4-6 Gadwall, 22 Mute Swan, Little Grebe, 5 Pied Wagtail, 2 Stock Dove, 100 Starling, singing Chaffinch, Goldcrest, 4-5 Skylark (up to 3 singing birds), pair of Mistle Thrush (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: WeBS sharming Water Rail, 22 Teal (Wren Group)


Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: 1st w Caspian Gull associating with Black-headed Gull on Eagle Pond at around 2pm, Nuthatch, 24 Shoveler (20 on Eagle Pond) (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead, Nightingale Lane: M Blackcap in garden, a first for us. (G. Gram).

Wanstead Flats: 5 Skylark (2 singing), Stonechat, 2 Stock Dove, 3 Goldcrest, 12 Greenfinch, 10+ Goldfinch, 2 singing Chaffinch, 15 Tufted Duck, 1 Pochard, 8 Shoveler, Gadwall, 2 Egyptian Goose, 3 Great Black-backed Gull, Kestrel, 1-2 Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft/Peter Brinton)

Wanstead Park: Tawny Owl in Bush Wood (Tim Harris)


Wanstead Flats: singing sub-adult Reed Bunting, 7 Greenfinch, 3 Siskin, 3-4 Skylark, 8 Shoveler, 3 Gadwall, 11 Tufted Duck, 4 Pochard, 2 Little Grebe, 2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk (Peter Brinton/Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, 10+ Redwing, 7+ Stock Dove, Grey Wagtail, 2 Siskin, Coal Tit, 16 Teal, 36 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, 2 Egyptian Goose, 23 Tufted Duck, 7 Pochard, 2 Little Grebe, 2 Great Crested Grebe (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan) Tawny Owl calling at 22:30 in Bush Wood (Bob Vaughan)


Wanstead Flats: 9 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, 8 Tufted Duck, 8 Pochard, 8 + Egyptian Goose, singing Skylark, Redwing, 10 + Greenfinch, 3 Stock Dove, 2 Kestrel, Goldcrest (Peter Brinton/Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 2-3 Water Rail (Shoulder of Mutton),14 Teal, 18 Shoveler, 11 Tufted Duck, 6 Pochard, Gadwall, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, 2 Goldcrest, 4 Siskin, 20 + Goldfinch, 10 + Greenfinch, Redwing, Chiffchaff, Kestrel, 2 Grey Wagtail, 4 Stock Dove (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Firecrest behind bus stop opposite Windsor Road, 4 Goldcrest, 10 Linnet, 15+ Greenfinch, 20+ House Sparrow, Redwing, 3 Skylark (2 singing), 2 Kestrel, tiny male Sparrowhawk, 22 Shoveler, 2 Teal, 4 Gadwall, 14 Tufted Duck, 6 Pochard, 13 Egyptian Goose, 2 pair of Stock Dove (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 6 Skylark (Tony Brown)

Wanstead Park: 3 Water Rail (SoM + 2 on Roding), 26 Teal (Heronry + 1 on Roding), 2 Great Crested Grebe (Basin), Sparrowhawk, Grey Wagtail, 5 Siskin (Tony Brown)


Wanstead Flats: Little Owl last thing (possibly 2 birds), male Stonechat (first spring migrant here), 5-6 Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipit, 5 Pied Wagtail, 2 Goldcrest, 25+ House Sparrow, 14 Egyptian Goose, 17 Tufted Duck, 9 Pochard, 11 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, 10+ Herring Gull, Little Grebe, Kestrel, Redwing (James Heal/Nick Croft/Tim Harris)

Wanstead Park: 16 Gadwall, 50 Shoveler, 18 Teal, 21 Tufted Duck, 4 Pochard, 2 Egyptian Goose, 2 Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, 10+ Siskin, Sparrowhawk, 2 Goldcrest, singing Coal Tit (James Heal); 7 Siskin, 5+ Goldcrest, Kestrel (Bush Wood) (Nick Croft)

Leyton Flats: c. 90 Tufted Duck, 38 Shoveler (Eagle and Hollow Ponds), Siskin over, singing Coal Tit, 1-2 Grey Wagtail, 200+ Black-headed Gull, 40+ Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, Redwing (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: 4-5 Skylark, Meadow Pipit (h), Sparrowhawk, 6 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 5 Tufted Duck, 2 Egyptian Goose, 2 Little Grebe (Nick Croft/Peter Brinton)

Wanstead Park: 30 Shoveler, 9 Gadwall, 18 Teal, 14 Tufted Duck, 6 Pochard, 2 Egyptian Goose, Water Rail in flight between reed beds (Shoulder of Mutton), Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, 2 Grey Wagtail (male singing), 8 Redwing (some subsong), 2 Goldcrest, 2 Siskin, 8 Stock Dove, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)