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


Wednesday, 8 May 2019

White or Pied Wagtail?

I took the series of photos below of what I presumed was a White Wagtail (alba) on Wanstead Flats over the weekend. This presumption was mainly based on the mantle colour being rather plain and ash-grey in colour (this was even more noticeable in the field) but given the amount of grey around the breast and to a lesser extent the flanks, I'm now swaying towards a female Pied Wagtail (yarrellii), but I've also seen White Wagtails with a light-grey wash around the flanks, so I'm still not 100% convinced.

The white wing bar also appears to be quite broad and the grey mantle doesn't encroach into the rear crown (what you can see of it) as much as you would expect in a female White Wagtail, so maybe it's just a female Pied Wagtail with a light grey mantle after all? It's just a shame that none of the photos clearly show the rump/upper tail coverts, as this could of clinched it either way (ash-grey for White Wagtail, dark grey for Pied Wagtail).

As always, any thoughts and comments are welcome...

Alba, Yarrellii

Alba, Yarrellii

Alba, Yarrellii

Alba, Yarrellii

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Quadrennial Wood Warbler

Almost four years to the day, another spring Wood Warbler has rocked up on Wanstead Flats. This time in Long Wood just across the road from where I found that special Little Singer in the SSSI back in April 2015.

Navigating traffic in this part of the world is an ongoing battle, so I decided to jump on the bike straight after work to head straight to the Flats in hope of adding the Wood Warbler to the patch year list, smart move on my part as I'd reached Long Wood in less than 20 minutes and with James and Bruce already here, and both having recently heard the bird break briefly into song - I was confident of catching up with it. Less than 10 minutes later I'd picked out the clean white underparts of a Wood Warbler as it worked its way through the top of the canopy. This bird was in no mood for singing and was silent except for the the briefest of trills in the hour or so I was there, but the views were OK and I even managed to grab a photo as it briefly dropped a little lower down, but for most part it always kept to the higher reaches of the Oak canopy.

Seeing and hearing a spring Wood Warbler is always a bit special in London, I just hope I don't have to wait another four more years to experience another one.

Spring, Male, Singing
So it's not going to win any prizes but none the less a photo of a London Wood Warbler

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Worlds Largest Gull Visits Wanstead

The long Easter bank holiday didn't quite live up to expectation on the patch, due in part to the weather being clear, sunny and warm - great for topping up my suntan but not so great for grounding passage migrants to an urban London site. On the two visits I did managed to squeeze in, I added Yellow Wagtail, Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Great Black-backed Gull to the Year List.

While the focus was always on returning passage migrants, the two Great Black-backed Gulls (a 4th and 2nd calendar year birds) on Alexandra Lake were a bit of a highlight - it's only taken me four months to add one to the patch year list! Great Black-backed Gulls are usually only recorded as winter flyovers at Wanstead as they commute between the River Thames and the chain of Lee Valley reservoirs, so to get a couple of these big chunky gulls in spring on the deck and in different plumage's was a nice distraction from looking at the current crop of non-breeding mix of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls which are now set to spend their summer on the Flats.

GBB Gull, Adult, Summer
4CY Great Black-backed Gull
GBB Gull, 2CY, 2nd Calendar Year, Gulls
2CY Great Black-backed Gull