Sunday, 3 November 2019

Odd Small Gull

A couple of hours on the patch this morning and I was rewarded with a year tick (107) as a calling Yellowhammer circled over the football pitches, it was also good to see my first autumn Woodcock but the most interesting bird of the morning was a rather odd small gull! From a distance and before I picked up any features what stood out was its size - it was small, clearly smaller than the Black-headed Gulls it was associating with on Alexandra Lake.

On closer inspection the bird appeared to be just a small adult winter Black-headed Gull but was lacking the usual dark prominent ear spot. Along with the small round head and dainty bill what also struck me was the birds posture in the water with a high angled rear end, almost as if it was top heavy. I'm fairly confident the bird is just a runty BHG but none the less an intriguing bird.

Adult, Winter Plumage

Adult, Winter Plumage

Flight shot showing a typical Black-headed Gull wing pattern and red legs
Not the best photo but it does show how small the gull is in comparison with the Black-headed Gulls in the background and foreground

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Spoilt for Stonechat

Dry, calm and clear - the perfect morning for a bit of a vizmig session - nope absolutely rubbish! It turned out to be a bit of damp squib with very little movement of any note, the only exception was two late Swallows heading low and west, so after bidding farewell to Bob and Jono after we'd tried and failed to find a Rock Pipit amongst the current resident numbers of Meadow Pipit, I thought I'd give our crop of Stonechat a session with the camera especially as the light was actually quite good for a change.

Male, Autumn, Passge

Male, Autumn, Passge

Male, Autumn, Passge

Male, Autumn, Passge

Autumn, Passge

There's been a good autumn passage of Stonechat through the Flats with a high of ten birds seen on the 2nd October and even now we have five birds who appear to be in no rush to move on and have hopefully taken up residency for the winter. In previous years you'd only expect one or two Stonechat to hang around so the omens are looking good for this winter already, but what I'm really hoping for now is a Dartford Warbler to also put in an appearance - It's been decade since the last one at Wanstead so we are definitely due another.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

If Calsberg did Record Shots

You could say the last couple of weekends on the patch have been a little bit special...unlike the photography!

First up was the Osprey on the 28th September, a welcome patch tick and was just the 4th record at Wanstead in recent times.
  1. One early morning over the Flats on the 7th September 2011
  2. One over the Flats on the 8th April 2014
  3. A single bird reported on the 13th April 2016 over the Esso Copse
Wanstead, London
Yes...that is an Osprey
Next up was the Marsh Harrier on the 5th October, yet another sought after raptor and patch tick. This was only the 6th record for Wanstead, the other five sightings are listed here.
  1. One over the Old Sewage Works on the 8th May 2011
  2. One from the Lake House scrub on the 26th August 2012 
  3. One on the 20th March 2013
  4. A juvenile over Long Wood on the 27th August
  5. A female circling over Jubilee Pond on the 5th October 2018
Wanstead, London
From the heavily cropped photos it look as this bird was 1st-winter or female Marsh Harrier
Wanstead, London

And just to add to the record shot bonanza, here's the Jack Snipe I found on the 5th October, not a patch tick but a year tick this time and only my 3rd ever record at Wanstead. This was the 8th record for the patch of this scarce winter visitor.
  1. One on Heronry on the 26th October 1979
  2. One on Alexandra Lake on the 5th February 2012
  3. One near Alexandra Lake on the 29th September 2013
  4. One near Alexandra Lake on the 23rd September 2014
  5. One on Angel Pond on the 6th December 2014
  6. One on Alexandra Lake on the 22nd October 2016
  7. A bird flew onto Jubilee Pond on the 27th February 2018
Wanstead, London

Wanstead, London

Wanstead, London

As it currently stands my Wanstead list now sits on 144 with the Year List moving onto 105. I thought I wouldn't top last years 109 but as we enter the last weeks of autumn and head into the final winter months of 2019 - can I get five more ticks to get me 110? Well...If the last couple of weeks are anything to go by then I've got every chance.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

A Little Bit of Quality

As we enter the 2nd half of September the quantity of passage migrants is starting to dry up on the patch, but there are still quality birds to be found with singles today of Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat and Wheatear. Today's Pied Fly was my 3rd this autumn and continues the great run of these birds stretching back to the 11th August. Wheatears on the other hand have been low in number throughout spring and autumn with a peak of 12 on the 29th August, this has been reflected by the number of photos I've used this year of Wheatear on the blog...just two (including this one) I'm aiming to put that right next year!

An early morning Wheatear along the Ditch of Despair