Monday, 24 June 2019

Chasing Dragons

As you would expect at this time of year the bird life on the old patch at the moment is fairly non-existent apart from the usual breeding species, so I've been enjoying a few lazy weekends taking in the Cricket World Cup, FIFA Women's Football World Cup (both of which have been excellent viewing) and also a little bit of local Mountain Biking (more of that another time). However on the visits I have made to Wanstead my focus has been less birds and more Odonata, nothing out of the ordinary to report (although I did dip a locally rare Scarce Chaser) just an enjoyable few hours locating, photographing and ID'ing these magnificent flying beasts.

Emperor Dragonfly (f)
Dragonfly, Odonata
Black-tailed Skimmer (m)
Dragonfly, Odonata
Black-tailed Skimmer (f)

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Lea Valley Ring-necked Duck

It was good to add another London tick to the slowly growing list and so soon after recently adding Great Reed Warbler but it almost never happened! After commiserating Spurs losing in the Champions League final I'd woken up with a monster of a hangover which seemed to get worse as the day wore on. Somehow I managed to pull myself together and by late afternoon headed up the Lea Valley to Fishers Green to look for the drake Ring-necked Duck which Dom Mitchell had found in the morning (whilst walking his dog, no less).

Anyone that knows Seventy Acres Lake at Fishers Green will know it has a large number of small islands and many bays and inlets - all perfect for hiding ducks, so unless anyone was on the bird when I arrived I thought my task was going to be difficult especially as I was still feeling a little jaded, but for once luck was on my side and as I scanned the lake from the footbridge I picked it up straight away amongst a small flock of Tufted Duck, I even managed to position myself at eye level on the lakes edge and got a few photos which all appear to be in focus - amazing what you can achieve whilst hung-over!

Male, Lea Valley, London

Male, Lea Valley, London

Male, Lea Valley, London

Male, Lea Valley, London

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

All Cattle and not much Egret

I popped into Rainham Marsh this morning with my 10 year old son in tow and virtually the first bird we saw was a Cattle Egret flying across the Purfleet Scrape, it landed beyond a herd of cattle where it spent most of its time happily obscured by these big bovine beasts before flying out further into the marsh. The only other birds of note were 10 Ringed Plover on Target Pools and an Avocet pair with two recently fledged young on Butts Scrape, plus the usual Hobby, male Marsh Harrier and a calling Cuckoo - none the less an enjoyable couple of hours walk around the reserve and a nice way to start half-term week.

Rainham, RSPB
Cattle + Egret = Cattle Egret
Rainham, RSPB

Rainham, RSPB

Monday, 20 May 2019

All Quiet at Wanstead but Crossness Delivers

With a band of overnight rain moving through the region on Friday, I felt an early morning start on the patch might be productive - sadly my optimism was dashed again as the search for late spring passage migrants and something of note drew a blank. The mornings highlight probably went to a pair of Treecreeper in Wanstead Park, east of Perch Lake. This was first time I've recorded two birds together in the Park and suggests a breeding pair and would be an excellent record for this location.

Male, Wanstead Park
A bit of green foliage ruins what would have been a great photo! 
Grey Wagtail on Perch Lake, Wanstead Park
Wanstead Flats
A much underrated bird the Stock Dove, just look at those doughy eyes!
My morning jaunt was broken with the news of a Great Reed Warbler at Crossness, but my day was already mapped out and given the time and distance of getting to this Thames-side reserve on the south of the river, any hope of catching up with this London 1st were sunk. Thankfully the bird did the decent thing and stuck around and I caught up with it on the Sunday morning, I only managed two briefs views, one occasion when it climbed the reeds and a briefly broke into a bit of a loud and unmistakable croaking and then another flight view, but all in all an excellent London tick and great find by Richard Bonser in what was an enjoyable couple of hours surrounded by the calls of a Cuckoo and the songs of Reed, Sedge and Cetti's Warblers.

Great Reed Warbler, London 1st
A little gem - Crossness Nature Reserve