27 November 2016

A selection of covers

It's that time of year again: organising the Christmas get together, choosing a cover for the next bird report, compiling everybody's memories of 2016 (their best bird, the event/highlight of the year, their predictions for 2017)–akin to herding cats!

By this time next week, the first obstacle will have been overcome, the hangover abated and everyone will have forgotten what they were asked/promised. The choice of cover may be done and dusted by then too, unless a really great photo opportunity comes are way in December.  So here a few from Jono and us lesser mortals to consider.

Stonechats were relatively numerous (this from early on in the year)

Or perhaps some of the unsung residents should get the nod...

To soon for a grebe?

Or perhaps a few of the birds that make Wanstead a standout patch in Spring and Autumn...

Always a tricky one to pin down, but the Yellow Wagtail is one of the commonest migrants across the flats

A record autumn for the Pied Flycatcher

Update: Tony thinks Valentino should be given the cover as he has now bcome so comatose as to be dead somewhere!

Massive bribes are always welcome

11 November 2016


October has to be one of my favourite months with all our normal species accounted for any new additions are going to be quality and this year was no exception.  The only issue I have with October is that I usually miss a good chunk of it by being in Shetland thus opening myself up to some major grippage and this year was no exception–even when I got back the lads managed it too!

Bird of the month, or decade for that matter, Tony's Great Grey Shrike.  Predicted correctly by Mr Fisher at the end of last year, this is the stuff of dreams.  "Always go see shrikes", as Jono would say, they have a magic about them, certainly beautiful and definitely intriguing. A bird, surely, at the top of every patch-workers wish list.  I just wish it had been where it should have been and not the flats, not on a football weekend (the Old Sewage Works has a field set aside for these birds optimistically called the Shrike Field if only by me!) and not on the first day I could manage to sit down without pain to catch up on some of this tiresome dribble.

Obviously Lord Jamathon Lethbridge of Jamshire was on hand to add to his thorn bush of grippage (he has been more jammy this year than a Victoria sponge made entirely of jam)–he even got one of his daughters to chide me over the Yellow-browed from earlier on in the month. Just reward, though, for Tony whose Saturday visits have been very productive giving him a strike rate well over 2, and for Bob whose persistence over the year deserves a result like this.

The shrike overshadowed what would normally been in the running for bird of the year–Stu's flyover Serin, accompanying a small group of Goldfinch over Leyton Flats (another first for the patch this year following September's Ortolan).

It's been another record year for Yellow-browed Warblers in the northern isles this autumn and it was only natural that more would make it down south before they all evaporated. I got close to 100 individuals this year on Shetland, but have still failed to get any outside Norfolk or the Scillies down south.  There could be still a little sprite with my name on it in London, sometime!

Yellow-browed Warbler: 2 records for the month, the first at Snaresbrook on the 1st which may or may not have been the same bird seen at the rear of the Court House on the 8th by Simon Worsforld, and the second in the Motorcycle Copse in the SSSI on the same day

Pic James Heal

Pics James Heal

White-fronted Goose: A flock of 15 over the flats and the first since 2011 and my uber flock of 100 on a wintery day in December of that year.  Missing them was harder than missing the YBW

Woodlark: 2 calling birds this year for what, dare I say it, is an annual passage bird over the patch

Hawfinch: A small invasion into London, with 3 birds seen in Regents Park, Richmond plus Stu had one the same morning as my bird flew along Long Wood–our first for a couple of years

Jack Snipe: Tony kicks the first for 2 years from the shore of the Alex. Low water levels revealing a beach between the lake and the weedy margins look good for more of these visitors.

A few lingering ouzels, a flurry of Stonechats throughout the month, the last of the summer visitors departing and the arrival of wintering thrush early on in the month, October gives you a bit of everything.  In particular this month record numbers of Chaffinch and Skylark through on the 21-22nd (260 and 520+ for the former and two counts of 60 for the latter) in addition to a sprinkling of Brambling and 32 Lesser Redpoll on the 21st. A count of 6 Firecrest was a record for Bush Wood with 3 still about towards the end of the month were the only sightings so far on the patch.

The first autumn Short-eared Owl was a patch tick for James when I finally got him on to it in the OSW, and we may have heard a Little Owl towards the end of the month: Mr Worsfold, who had been recently listening to them at Totteridge, was confident of what we heard, so we will wait on events. Meanwhile in something of a wader fest 50 Lapwing plopped through during the latter part of the month, which is excellent and more than in the last few years combined.

1st October 

Wanstead Flats: 3 Common Whitethroat, 10 Blackcap, 25+ Chiffchaff, c40 Swallow, 12 Sand Martin, 22 House Martin, 20+ Meadow Pipit, 2 Reed Bunting (Tony Brown)
4th October 2016 

Snaresbrook Crown Court: Yellow-browed Warbler in trees on front lawn 07:10 (Stuart Fisher)

7th October

Snaresbrook: male Tawny Owl heard 06.20 (Stuart Fisher)

Pic James Heal

8th October

Leyton Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler at 17:15, bird was located at the back of Snaresbrook Crown Court (Simon Worsfold)

Wanstead Flats: Yellow-browed Warbler calling and seen through the day boggy bit SSSI, also 4+ Ring Ouzel, 15 White-fronted Goose flying East, Northern Wheatear, male Stonechat, 4 Swallow, 2 Redwing (James Heal, Jonathan Lethbridge, Tony Brown, Richard Rae)

10th October

Leyton Flats: 5 Wigeon, 20 Pochard on Hollow Pond, 30+ Redwing W, Grey Wagtail, 3 Song Thrush over, 2 Green Woodpecker, Kingfisher (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: Common Buzzard, 3 Kestrel, 4 Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, 2 Reed Bunting, 3 Linnet, Great Crested Grebe, Pochard, 3 Meadow Pipit, Skylark (Nick Croft)

 12th October

Leyton Flats: juv/1st w SERIN S at c 8:30 calling, 21 Redwing W/NW, 3 Song Thrush, c8 Goldcrest, 17 Goldfinch (14 S), 12 Chaffinch NW, Wigeon, 28 Mute Swan (26 Hollow Pond), Kingfisher (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: 3 Stonechat, 10 Meadow Pipit, 4 Skylark, 3 Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest, 37 Gadwall, 6 Shoveler, 7 Teal, 3 Little Grebe, 3 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Swallow through (Nick Croft/Sean Kerrigan)

Wanstead Park: 40 Wigeon, 60+ Gadwall, 17 Shoveler, 2 Teal, 3 Little Egret, Kingfisher, 7 Chiffchaff, 6 Goldcrest, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Little Grebe (Nick Croft)

13th October

Snaresbrook: Tawny Owl (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: 2 Swallow, 7 Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, 6 Stonechat, 5 Skylark, 4 Meadow Pipit, 2 Linnet, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Reed Bunting, 20 + Gadwall, 7 Shoveler, 5 Teal, 3 Kestrel (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 34 Wigeon, 12 Teal, 2 Little Egret, Grey Wagtail, 2 Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe and her young family, Common Gull. (Simon Worsfold)

14th October 

Leyton Flats/Hollow Ponds: 2 Kingfisher, 1 Little Grebe (First one I have seen here), 8 Pochard, 6 Gadwall, Goldcrest, 3 Chiffchaff. (Simon Worsfold)

Wanstead Flats: Woodlark, Ring Ouzel, 40 Fieldfare, 10+ Song Thrush, 6 Stonechat, 4 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest, 28 Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, 6 Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, 3 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 25+ Gadwall, 7 Shoveler, 4 Teal, 5 Pochard, 10+ Tufted Duck (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: 39 Wigeon, 26 Shoveler, 90+ Gadwall, 11 Teal, 9 Little Grebe, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Egret, Kingfisher, 9 Chiffchaff, Blackcap, 7 Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Meadow Pipit, 3 Grey Wagtail, Sparrowhawk (Nick Croft)

15th October

Wanstead Flats: Short-eared Owl (seen from the Old Sewage Works), 2 Ring Ouzel, 3 Stonechat (Twitter), Swallow, 4 Chiffchaff, f Blackcap, 6+ Goldcrest, 5 Skylark, 4 Meadow Pipit, 2 Grey Wagtail, 6 Pied Wagtail, 20+ Linnet, 30+ Gadwall, 8 Shoveler, 5 Teal, 5 Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, 3 Little Grebe, 3 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk (James Heal/Jonathan Lethbridge/Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Short-eared Owl returned north over park, Ring Ouzel (f), 10 Chiffchaff, Blackcap, 10+ Goldcrest, 2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, 2 Little Egret, Kingfisher, 14 Teal flushed by Peregrine Falcon, 33 Wigeon, 50+ Gadwall, 12 Shoveler, 6 Great Crested Grebe, 9 Little Grebe (James Heal/Nick Croft) Grey Wagtail - SW Perch Pond (Brandon Anderson).

16th October 

Wanstead Flats: 2 Ring Ouzel 1 over Alex 0750 & 1 SSSI 0920 (Tony Brown via Twitter)

17th October 

Wanstead Flats: 24 Fieldfare, 7 Skylark, 20+ Linnets, male Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, 5 Goldcrest, 3 Kestrel, Buzzard, Song Thrush, Siskin, Reed Bunting, 2 Stonechat, 25 Gadwall, 5 Teal, 4 Shoveler, 6 Meadow Pipits, 4 Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Great Crested Grebe (Bob Vaughan, Nick Croft, Simon Worsfold et al)

Wanstead Park: 115 Gadwall, 29 Wigeon, 23 Shoveler, 2 Teal, 2 Little Egret, Kingfisher, 7 Little Grebe, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Chiffchaff, 10+ Goldcrest, 3 Grey Wagtail (Nick Croft)

18th October 

Wanstead Flats: 4 Stonechat, 15 Fieldfare, 8 Redwing, 15 Linnet, Reed Bunting, 3 Skylark, 5 Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 4 Pied Wagtail, 14 Teal, 20+ Gadwall, 7 Shoveler, 2 Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, 4 Little Grebe, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 3 Chiffchaff, 5 Goldcrest (Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 6 Firecrest (Bush Wood), 10+ Goldcrest, 7 Chiffchaff, Water Rail, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Little Grebe, Little Egret, 2 Kingfisher, Siskin, 3 Grey Wagtail, 110+ Gadwall, 35 Shoveler, 34 Wigeon, 2 Teal, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and unidentified large raptor south down Roding (Nick Croft)

19th October 

Snaresbrook/Leyton Flats: Hawfinch heard calling in oaks near Court within perimeter of Leyton Flats at c8am, 90 Fieldfare over during the day, Firecrest (Snaresbrook Road just west of Eagle Pond), Green Sandpiper heard heading W at dawn, 12 Lesser Redpoll, 8+ Goldcrest, 17 Redwing, Kingfisher, Little Grebe, 3 Great Crested Grebe, Siskin, Skylark on the Flats, 3 Meadow Pipit, c8 Goldfinch, 3 Grey Wagtail, 5+ Song Thrush, 3+ Chiffchaff (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: Hawfinch, 14 Siskin, 20+ Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, 5 Chaffinch, 4 Reed Bunting, 8 Redwing, 32 Fieldfare, 5 Song Thrush, m Stonechat, 4 Skylark, 8 Meadow Pipit, 7 Pied Wagtail, 30+ Gadwall, 4 Teal, 5 Shoveler, 2 Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Kestrel, Chiffchaff, 6 Goldcrest (Nick Croft)

20th October 

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: 2 Little Egret, 2 Pochard, 3 Goldcrest by Eagle Ponds, 3 Siskin, 10 Meadow Pipit, Redwing flying over the flats by Hollow Ponds area, Skylark, 2 Gadwall, 3 Great Crested Grebe .8:30-9:30 (Simon Worsfold)

Wanstead Flats: 300+ Redwing, 80+ Fieldfare, 3 Stonechat, 6 Lapwing, Brambling, 2 Siskin, 10+ Linnet, 20+ Chaffinch, Lesser Redpoll, 7+ Reed Bunting, 10+ Skylark, 15+ Meadow Pipit, 2 Chiffchaff, 6 Goldcrest, 4 Teal, 10+ Gadwall, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Kestrel (Nick Croft/Peter Brinton)

Wanstead Park: 25 Wigeon, 5 Teal, 20 Gadwall, 2 Kingfisher, 2 Little Grebe, Little Egret, 4 Meadow Pipit, 5 Goldcrest 4pm (Simon Worsfold)

21st October

Leyton Flats/Snaresbrook: 1st w Ring Ouzel briefly, Siskin over, Reed Bunting NE (Stuart Fisher)

Wanstead Flats: 500+ Starling, 260+ Chaffinch going north, 32 Lesser Redpoll, Brambling, 2 Siskin, 30+ Goldfinch, 30 Linnet, 4 Reed Bunting, 60 Skylark (mostly west), 23 Meadow Pipit, 33 Lapwing (west), Common Snipe, 42 Fieldfare, 30 Redwing, 58 Gadwall, 2 Teal, 6 Goldcrest, 2 Stonechat, Peregrine Falcon, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Kestrel, and large hawk, some distance away, flying slowly and then doing some display moves (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan/Marco Johnson/Peter Brinton/Sean Kerrigan)

22nd October

Wanstead Flats: Jack Snipe, Common Snipe (TB), 3 Lapwing, 520+ Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 40+ Linnet, 3 Siskin, 5 Reed Bunting, 2000+ Starling, 146 Fieldfare, 54 Redwing, 60 Skylark, 15 Meadow Pipit, 2 Grey Wagtail, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, Chiffchaff, 5 Goldcrest, 20+ Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, 4 Teal (Tony Brown/James Heal/Bob Vaughan/Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: 2 Common Buzzard over garden (Bob Vaughan)

24th October

Leytonstone Green Man Roundabout: Sparrowhawk flew over O' Neil's Pub whilst I was waiting for my bus. (Simon Worsfold)

Wanstead Flats: Stonechat, 2 Bramblings, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrels, 40+Chaffinches, 300 Starlings, 60 Fieldfare, 6 Meadow Pipits, 6 Redwing, 4 Reed Bunting, Siskin, 2 Skylark, 3 Shoveler, 2 Teal, 5 Common Gulls, 5 Pied Wagtails (Nick Croft/Simon Worsfold)

25th October

Wanstead Flats: 1-2 male Stonechat, 49 Redwing, 18 Fieldfare, 11 Song Thrush, 37 Chaffinch, 41 Goldfinch, Siskin, 10 Lesser Redpoll, 23 Linnet, 5 Reed Bunting, 33 Skylark, 9 Meadow Pipit, 2 f Blackcap, 9 Goldcrest, 28 Gadwall, m Wigeon, 2 Shoveler, 13 Teal, 23 Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, 3 Kestrel (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: Woodlark over Shoulder of Mutton, 3 Firecrest together in Bush Wood, 10+ Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Coal Tit, 4 Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, Little Egret, 162 Gadwall, 53 Wigeon, 36 Shoveler, 10 Teal, 6 Tufted Duck, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 10+ Little Grebe (Nick Croft)

26th October

Wanstead: Little Egret flying south over the station at around 8am (Simon Worsfold)

Wanstead Flats: 3 Stonechat, 112 Redwing, 30 Fieldfare, 30+ Chaffinch, 2 Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, 10 Skylark, 6 Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 8 Pied Wagtail, 5 Lapwing, Common Snipe, 100+ Common Gull, 18 Shoveler, 45 Gadwall, 9 Teal, 15 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, 2 Kestrel, 2 Goldcrest, Chiffchaff (Nick Croft/John Whele/Simon Worsfold)

27th October

Wanstead Flats: 500+ Starling, 28 Fieldfare, 2 Stonechat, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 20 Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, 2 Skylark, 3 Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 5 Goldcrest, 30 Gadwall, 6 Teal, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel (Nick Croft/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: 12 Skylark north, 6 Siskin, 3 Chiffchaff, 7 Goldcrest, Redwing, 6 Little Grebe, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 49 Wigeon, 141 Gadwall, 23 Shoveler, 14 Teal, Grey Wagtail (Nick Croft)

28th October

Wanstead Flats: 14 Linnet, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 10 Chaffinch, 5 Reed Bunting, Stonechat, Redwing, 5 Skylark, 7 Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 5 Teal, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, 5 Goldcrest, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel (Boob Vaughan/Nick Croft)

Wanstead Park: Wigeon, 30+ Gadwall, 20 + Shoveler, 5 Great Crested Grebe, Nuthatch (Bob Vaughan)

29th October

Wanstead Flats: Great Grey Shrike (Tony Brown); Green Sandpiper, 2 Snipe, 2 Stonechat, 7 Skylark, 6 Meadow Pipit, 10 Linnet, 20+ Goldfinch, 4 Siskin, 7 Reed Bunting, 4 Teal, 10+ Gadwall, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 8 Fieldfare (Wanstead Birders)

Wanstead Park: Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall, Kingfisher, 10 Lesser Redpoll (James Heal)

30th October 

Wanstead Flats: Ring Ouzel (James Heal); 70+ Fieldfare, 7 Redwing, 2 Stonechat, 40+ Chaffinch, 15 Redpoll, 13 Linnet, 2 Reed Bunting, Blackcap, 6 Goldcrest, 6 Skylark, 8 Meadow Pipit, 1Pied Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel. Lapwing, 26 Gadwall, 11 Teal, 2 Shoveler, Wigeon (Nick Croft/James Heal/Bob Vaughan)

Wanstead Park: Siskin, 30+ Chaffinch, 2 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest, Skylark, 22 Shoveler, 157 Gadwall, 30 Wigeon, 10 Teal (Nick Croft)