Friday, 23 January 2015

Winter Wheatears!

I decided it was about time I got myself over to Wallasea Island for a few hours before the end of Winter. The idea was to indulge in some quality raptor action, but this never quite materialised. Despite seeing two wonderful ring-tailed Hen Harriers adjacent to the car park, I failed to see any Short-eared Owls or the Rough-legged Buzzard which has been knocking around for quite a while now.

There were large flocks of Corn Buntings and Linnets in the fields, and Lapwings and Brent Geese constantly streamed overhead but it was the Stonechats which ultimately caught my eye. A volatile little bird which thrives in milder winters but always lives with the possibility that one harsh cold snap could massively deplete their numbers, so it's good to see them doing so well at this time - I counted six birds along one ditch and I know these numbers are replicated in pockets around other sites along the east coast. With their inquisitive nature and tolerant ways, it's no wonder Stonechats are a firm favourite with anyone who owns a camera, which got me thinking - surely they're winters answer to the summer Wheatear?

Wallasea Island, RSPB
Are you looking at me?

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Have a Goosander, have two!

With news of a pair of Goosander enjoying the delights of Connaught Water alongside the usual collection of fence hoppers, I stopped by early morning to have a quick look. The beauty of Connaught Water is you have a car park directly opposite the lake and a circular trail you can cover in fifteen minutes, and that's as much time as I needed to get cracking views of both male and female sawbills.

I've seen Goosander at Connaught Water in previous Winters, but typically these has just been single birds in the middle of the lake, but the two today must have swapped notes with that Slavonian Grebe down the road at Wanstead, as yet another species of winter wildfowl delivers terrific views - Let's hope 2015 continues in this vain, as a local Great northern Diver would go down a treat!

Male, Connaught Water, Epping Forest

Female, Connaught Water, Epping Forest