Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Shrike Two

I went back to the patch this evening for a second bite at the Red-backed Shrike and I'm glad to say that it showed really well (It's amazing what you can achieve when you don't have two children to entertain). I also managed to add Pied Flycatcher to the year list (that's number 100 up) with one possibly two birds amongst three or four Spotted Flycatchers in Centre Copse - It's never easy to confirm accurate counts when the birds are flitting high up in the canopy, and with up to Seven Whinchats scattered across the Flats and a report of a Tree Pipit, the patch is finally starting to deliver the goods this autumn.

Juvenile, Wanstead, London

Juvenile, Wanstead, London

Juvenile, London, Wanstead

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Red-backed Shrike on Wanstead Flats

As photos of Red-backed Shrike go...I think these are amongst the poorest I've ever posted, but who cares as these photos are of a Red-backed Shrike on the patch!

Year after year, the Wanstead crew try and predict what birds might show-up on the patch and without fail Red-backed Shrike is always at the top of that list, so finally today and after a wait of 38 years (the last one recorded was in the Old Sewage Works in 1980) a bird did the decent thing and showed up! Well done to Nick Croft for finding this cracking juvenile in the Pub Scrub (just east of Alexandra Lake).

I would've loved to of stayed longer for more views of the bird (as it was being a little elusive at times) but with two kids in tow it's only so long you can occupy them with a football - and as I couldn't persuade Tim or Bob to go in goal for a bit I had to reluctantly leave...still, it certainly feels good to add another Shrike to the patch list.

Juvenile, London, Wanstead

Juvenile, London, Wanstead

Juvenile, Wanstead, London

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Yellow-legged Gull Saves the Day

The patch failed to live up to expectations this morning, with just four flyover Yellow Wagtails being the only passage migrant movement of any note, the rest of the Flats appeared eerily quiet! Only time will tell if the extensive grass fire damage will have any impact this autumn on our expected passage migrants, but the early signs don't appear to be very good with pockets of Blackberry and Elderberry largely decimated by the fire and the expected Sylvia Warblers which feed on these berries being few and far between. It's only mid-August so hopefully I'm wrong and we'll be tripping over migrants in the coming weeks.

The only other bird of note was a Yellow-legged Gull. This has been knocking around Alexandra Lake since last weekend and was a welcome year tick (97). The bird appears to be in heavy moult with several secondaries missing, which might explain why it's stuck around for a while.

Gulls, Larids, London

Gulls, Larids, London

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Urban Godwit

I know a few birders who have gone to the beautiful country of Iceland in spring/summer in the hope of photographing waders at close quarters in their summer/breeding plumage, spending many hours and hundreds of pounds (Krona) in the process to get that perfect image...I say nah! Why bother? Just wait for a summer plumage Black-tailed Godwit to show up on your local urban lake. Hopefully the lake will be littered with floating beer cans and all kinds of litter left by the general ignorant public just to add to the glamour and it'll not only save you a load of time and money but I promise you it will also be a lot more satisfying!

Today Jono found this absolute beauty of a bird parading around the edge of Alexandra Lake - a big fat patch tick for the pair of us. Much to my amazement and unlike any other wader I've seen on the lake it wasn't skittish and it didn't fly off at the first sign of anybody, it just happily fed on the receding waterline - amazing.

It's been a quiet summer for me on the birding front (the hot weather has spiralled my social calendar) but this has certainly kicked started August superbly and with the June/July doldrums now out of the way...could this be the start of a magical autumn on the patch?

Wanstead