Friday, 13 September 2019

Wanstead August Stats

20 records of Pied Flycatcher, 29 records of Common Redstart, 41 records of Tree Pipit...the numbers don't lie - by all accounts it's been an excellent August for common passage migrants passing through Wanstead Flats, confirming what we all already know that Wanstead really is one of London's prime locations for connecting with spring and autumn migrants.

None of this data would be possible without the continuing efforts of a small band of Wanstead regulars who diligently work the patch, with a special shout out to Nick Croft who pounds the well trodden paths for many hours, most days.

Thursday, 5 September 2019


Waders are revered at Wanstead and Greenshank had only ever been recorded by team Wanstead (well Nick) as a rare flyover, so for the team to see one on the deck and feeding in the shallows of Heronry Lake is just a little bit special and what a great way to bring up the 100 for the year on the patch.

Wanstead, Wader, Autumn Passage

Wanstead, Wader, Autumn Passage

Wanstead, Wader, Autumn Passage

Wanstead, Wader, Autumn Passage

Monday, 2 September 2019

Poolside Birding on the Greek Island of Zakynthos

I've just returned from a super-chilled week on the Greek Island of Zakynthos with the family, although birding was never part of the agenda I couldn't help but explore the local area close to our accommodation, whilst always keeping one eye on the sky as I lounged around the pool. The habitat on our hillside location in the south of the island near Keri was a mixture of pines, Olive plantations and some impenetrable thorny scrub. Each morning I'd make a quick recce of the area before breakfast, the plan was always to get out just after sunrise but I often struggled due to the prior evenings intake of the very likeable Mythos Beer!

It soon became apparent that Zante wasn't exactly alive with birds (well not in this location) in my week on the island I only managed to amass a grand total of just 21 species - I know my birding was limited but I had hoped for a few's the list and the details.
  1. House Sparrow - A small local flock of around 10+
  2. Collared Dove - Several local pairs
  3. Eleonoras Falcon - 2 over the accommodation (1 dark phase)
  4. Common Buzzard - Up to 4 birds circling daily
  5. Sparrowhawk - 2 sightings of single birds
  6. Marsh Harrier - 1 female distantly picked up through the bins
  7. Sardinian Warbler - Numerous pairs, c20 in the area
  8. Serin - 1 briefly in Pine Trees
  9. Red-backed Shrike - 1 male, intermittently seen throughout the week
  10. Spotted Flycatcher - Up to 4 birds seen in the area
  11. Swallow - Numerous, 50+ most days - Including 1 albino bird
  12. Red-rumped Swallow - 20+ most days
  13. House Martin - 20+ most days
  14. Sand Martin - c5 seen most days
  15. Northern Wheatear - 1 in flight
  16. Scops Owl - 1 briefly perched on electricity wires (Well spotted Mrs B)
  17. Great Tit - 4 (1 single bird and a group of 3)
  18. Greenfinch - small local flock of 5 >10
  19. Honey Buzzard - 2 calling birds flying low over the accommodation
  20. Yellow Wagtail - 1 in flight calling
  21. Hobby - 1 over the accommodation
Greece, Zante,
Red-rumped Swallows 
Greece, Zante

Greece, Zante

Greece, Zante
The most numerous bird on my holiday patch - Sardinian Warbler (m)
Greece, Zante

Greece, Zante
Spotted Flycatcher 
Male, Greece, Zante
The local male Red-backed Shrike always kept its distance
And lastly a couple of none bird photos of interest - European Mantis and Cone-headed Grasshopper both of which wouldn't look out of place in the next Aliens instalment.

Greece, Zante

Greece, Zante

Sunday, 11 August 2019

The Arrival of Autumn

I've done very little birding on the patch through the summer months as I do my best to try and avoid the area, as sadly Wanstead becomes a magnet for all kinds of characters and activities - all attracted by the long days and good weather. But in recent weeks I've slowly started to build up my visits again - not that I've seen a great deal (Common Sandpiper is about the only bird of note) but today felt a little different, and was the first time it actually had that autumnal feel about it. There were good numbers of Phylloscopus Warblers in the SSSI with an arrival of at least 6 juvenile Willow Warblers, this was later trumped when I found a smart Pied Flycatcher amongst a movement of birds all favouring the sheltered and sunlit east side of Motorcycle Wood. My first autumn Wheatears had also arrived with two birds in the Brooms/Football Pitches.

Autumn, Wanstead, London
Always flighty and difficult to pin down but a Pied Fly was nice addition to the year list
Butterflies, Wanstead, London
Brown Argus Butterfly
Autumn, Wanstead, London
A Wheatear is always a welcome sight 
On the Gull front it was good to see my first returning Common Gull another sign that autumn is now here, and there was also a 2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gull amongst the gull roost on the Football pitches - only my second record this year. As yet there have been no juvenile arrivals but as Yellow-legged Gull numbers along the Thames corridor continue to increase I'm sure it will only be a matter of time.

2nd-summer, Gulls, Wanstead, London
2nd-Summer Yellow-legged Gull