23 October 2017

Oh yes, things just happen, sometimes

The first thing to do this morning was to check the area where Nick had a Corncrake yesterday. No joy in the open grass or huge bramble area. However the wind had died down and there were already many Woodpigeons heading south through the red sky, so it was looking interesting. A Reed Bunting was calling from the brooms, and a fly over Siskin. Then a chuck, chuck from a bush sounded just right for an Ouzel and sure enough as a runner went dashing past the bush, out flew a male Ouzel. The year tick I had been waiting for. There was a similar noise from another bush as Nick came up. Maybe two? 

I went up to where I thought the Ouzel had flown and then it flew up from the ground before it disappeared into another bush. I could only see the leaves moving as it remained resolutely and astonishingly complete hidden in the thin cover. Then it flew again and I grabbed a few record shots in the pre-dawn gloom. 

There were by this time many groups of Redwing and a couple of groups of Fieldfare flying with the hundreds of Woodpigeon. All good, and these were the first groups of Fieldfare this autumn. Redpoll and siskin fly overs. 

Coming back from the Greggs coffee run I hear a few clear, rather odd calls somewhere between a seep and a sup which heralds two fat finches flying low overhead. The large white underwing bars where clear - Yay Hawfinch! Patch tick, and much anticipated given the numbers being seen this year. Surprisingly easy to nail after all. High five with Nick, for whom they were at least a patch year tick. 

The passage was beginning to quieten down over the next half-hour when Nick calls Goosander and sure enough there were two birds flying rapidly over Long Wood going West. A difficult bird for reservoir free Wanstead and my first for 19 years, so another year tick then. Having mis-called mergansers recently they were reassuringly Common not RB.

At least two of everything this morning? Maybe there is something about the 23rd Oct?

15 October 2017

When a plan comes together?

With dawn creeping through the curtains it seemed like just the right time to get out and find an Ouzel and one of the deluge of Hawfinches that have been plaguing the country. 

The mist was low over the flats as the sun rose and walking through the brooms the unmistakable braying of a Brambling flew over going west. The first for Wanstead this year. A little while later the double notes of a Redpoll. It was looking like an interesting day. 

Time to check the SSSI, just got to the far side when Jono ‘phones to say he has a Short-eared Owl flying down the brooms heading S. Another first for the Wanstead year. Time for a wee jog to Centre road…and there coming back behind Centre copse the distant v shaped glide and flap of an SEO. (Incidental random nonsense - my 8th for the flats and the first to be seen in the same month as any of the others). Heading nonchalantly back towards Jono in the brooms he indicates another or perhaps the same one coming back on a big circle, so a record shot grabbed as it flew by.

Time for some visimiging: 10 redwing, a siskin, then another, a few Chaffinch, 30 Jackdaw south and then another Brambling. A strange pipitish “pseeep” (Incidental random nonsense 2 - rather similar to the Red-throated Pipit I heard in Skaw or maybe…)  but coming apparently from a Skylark as we checked the through the local Meadow Pipit collective. The weather closes in and Nick arrives, counting chaffinch as ever. Things progress and we chase an interesting flock of finches, one of which I’m sure has a white patch on its rump. Not nailed though, and no calls as they dance about.

I get ready to go for the Sunday papers and Jono reckons on staying a while, until news of a Rock Thrush being seen in the Welsh valleys interests the avowed non-twitcher. Apparently the lure of the valleys are too strong, well for those who need it. The football has started so Nick and I stroll to the Esso garage. On the way back past the footballers, “we’re not going to hear anything here” I shouted, followed by the tootle of a Woodlark and it flies 5 metres directly over our heads!! It continues to fly on and then west off towards Jubilee. High five, well, we both had one through in the spring, and then we hear another coming in from the north. This one flies in and lands on the main path with a few pipits! 

The first I’ve seen on the deck in Wanstead and it stayed long enough for some record shots. Yay.

Despite the action I head off for breakfast and Nick goes on to Alex. Here, inevitably, he completes a great patch day with a Rock Pipit, a serious Wanstead rare.

When I get back and go through the photos I find this pipit at the left hand edge of one of the early Woodlark shots. Just a bit odd?

No Ring Ouzel and no Hawfinch (yet) but then why make specific plans, things just happen, sometimes.

1 October 2017

Scarcely September (2017)

Our best month of the year, usually, and the epitome of how dire 2017 has been! Usually we have daily reports–this year I've had to pad things out with Twitter news.  Doesn't help that several records were deleted from the London Wiki.

Even with a lack of reports/reporting it doesn't take a genius to realise that this autumn has followed on from an awful spring to be, well, awful.

3 Common Redstart, 15 days of Whinchat–with a high of 3 (ha!) on two days, 2 Wheatear, the first autumn Stonechat on the 23rd and the only Stonechat so far. 5 Spotted Flycatcher, which is 5 better than Pied Flycatcher.  Utterly disappointing.

4 Tree Pipit, 9 Yellow Wagtail (that previously would have been one good day!).

The first Ring Ouzel arrived on the 26th and a day later Stu had the first Redwing over Leyton Flats. Other autumnal arrivals in the form of 3 Lesser Redpoll signed in on the 29th.  Out went the majority of the warblers leaving just Chiffchaff and Blackcap by the end of the month. Going, but not quite gone were Martins and Swallow (150+ on the 24th).

A second adult Yellow-legged Gull was reported at the end of the month (I only do adults now, they're easier) in a growing gull mass.

The Little Owl(s) were noted throughout the month as was a Tawny in Long Wood (Sean Kerrigan), which was actually on the 30th of August.

2 Snipe was the sum total of things wadery.

On the plus side Tufted Duck managed to have a brood of 2 (all that was left when I caught up with them) on Heronry, which was about the only contribution made by the park for the month, aside from a calling Treecreeper.

As for the month ahead: we must get a Short-eared Owl surely, shortly, thrushes and finches, buntings and plovers–ah yes it's Viz Mig time.  Meanwhile I am going to wake up soon and realise this has all been a bad dream!


Wanstead Flats: 2 Willow Warbler in with good numbers of Chiffchaff in School Scrub (James Heal) Tree Pipit (Bob Vaughan) Spotted Flycatcher reported


Wanstead Flats: Tree Pipit, Whinchat, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 3 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Willow Warblers, 40 House Martin, Little Owl, Skylark, 30 Gadwall, 4 Little Grebe, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Reed Bunting (Wanstead Birders)

Wanstead Park: 7 Teal, 8 Shoveler, 27 Gadwall, 5 Pochard, 10 Tufted Duck (including 2 young non flying birds, so a success there), Little Grebe, Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, 2 Whitethroat, 6 Chiffchaff (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Spotted Flycatcher, Sedge Warbler (Marco Johnson)


Wanstead Flats: 2 Tree Pipit, 20 + Meadow Pipt, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Whinchat, Garden Warbler, Reed Warbler, Willow Warber, 10+ Chiffchaff, 4 Whitethroat, Hobby, 1-2 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk, 6 Sand Martin, 2 House Martin, Swallow, 10 Gadwall, 2 Teal, f Shoveler, Common Gull, Little Grebe (Wanstead Birders)


Wanstead Flats: 2 Whinchat (Tony Brown)

Wanstead Park: 11 Teal on Ornamentals, 62 Gadwall, 12 House Martin,  (Tim Harris)


Wanstead Flats: 2 Whinchat, 3 Common Whitethroat, fm Kestrel, 3 juv Green Woodpecker, 6 Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail (John & Janet Cadera)


Wanstead Flats: 2 Common Redstart. Whinchat, 2 Little Owl, 12 Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, 3 Skylark, 30+ Swallow, 3 Sand Martin, Common Snipe, 3 Goldcrest, 3 Teal, 13 Shoveler, 3 Little Grebe, Little Egret (Wanstead Birders)


Wanstead Flats: Wheatear (Simon Raper)

Pic: James Heal


Wanstead Flats: Spotted Flycatcher (James Heal), Hobby (Bob Vaughan), m Stonechat, Little Owl (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Whinchat, 150+ Swallow S, 14 Chiffchaff, 5 Blackcap, 2 Goldcrest, 3 Skylark, 20+ Meadow Pipit, 2 Common Buzzard, 3 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Teal, 3 Gadwall, Shoveler, Little Grebe, 2 Common Gull (Wanstead Birders)

Wanstead Park: 44 Gadwall, 6 Wigeon, 21 Shoveler, 13 Teal, 15 Tufted Duck, f Pochard, 2 Common Buzzard, 3 Sparrowhawk, 5 Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat, 5 Goldcrest, Treecreeper, 2 Little Grebe (Nick Croft).


Wanstead Flats: 1w m Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 20 + Chiffchaff, 10 Blackcap, Whitethroat, 3 Goldcrest, 2 Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 10 + Song Thrush, 10 + Blackbird (mostly migrant birds), 10 Teal, 4 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, 2 Kestrel, 600 + Starling, 4 Common Gull, rise in the number of Wood Pigeon with a lot of 1w birds in their midst (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: f Ring Ouzel briefly, 2 Whinchat, Yellow Wagtail, 13 Teal, 88 Greylag Goose - a new record for the site (J Lethbridge)


Wanstead Flats: 50–60 Swallow, 5 House Martin, 60+ Meadow Pipit (James Heal)

Leyton Flats: Vis Mig: Redwing, 48 Meadow Pipit, 5 Pied Wagtail, 2 Linnet, 6 Swallow. Plus Coal tit, Nuthatch, 40+ Ring-necked Parakeet (now becoming attached to the area), 3 Shoveler, 8 Pochard (Stuart Fisher)


Wanstead Flats: Yellow-legged Gull, 100+ Black-headed Gull, 5 Common Gull, 15 Meadow Pipit, 5 Pied Wagtail, 2 Skylark, 15 Chiffchaff, 8 Blackcap, 2 Goldcrest, 13 Teal, 12 Shoveler, Little Grebe, 2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Linnet, 5 Chaffinch (Nick Croft/John Whele)

Wanstead Park: 10 Wigeon, 22 Shoveler, 55 Gadwall, 20 Teal, 8 Tufted Duck, f Pochard, 8 Little Grebe, Kingfisher, 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 35+ House Martin (possibly still our local birds), 6 Swallow north up the Roding, Coal Tit (Nick Croft)


Wanstead Flats: Wheatear, 45 Meadow Pipit, 10 Swallow, 5 House Martin, 14 Chiffchaff, 5 Blackcap, 2 Goldcrest, 15 Shoveler, 5 Teal, 53 Egyptian Goose (new site record), 4 Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 9 Linnet, 2 Skylark (Jono Lethbridge/Nick Croft)