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

Monday, 24 June 2019

Chasing Dragons

As you would expect at this time of year the bird life on the old patch at the moment is fairly non-existent apart from the usual breeding species, so I've been enjoying a few lazy weekends taking in the Cricket World Cup, FIFA Women's Football World Cup (both of which have been excellent viewing) and also a little bit of local Mountain Biking (more of that another time). However on the visits I have made to Wanstead my focus has been less birds and more Odonata, nothing out of the ordinary to report (although I did dip a locally rare Scarce Chaser) just an enjoyable few hours locating, photographing and ID'ing these magnificent flying beasts.

Ondonata
Emperor Dragonfly (f)
Dragonfly, Odonata
Black-tailed Skimmer (m)
Dragonfly, Odonata
Black-tailed Skimmer (f)

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Lea Valley Ring-necked Duck

It was good to add another London tick to the slowly growing list and so soon after recently adding Great Reed Warbler but it almost never happened! After commiserating Spurs losing in the Champions League final I'd woken up with a monster of a hangover which seemed to get worse as the day wore on. Somehow I managed to pull myself together and by late afternoon headed up the Lea Valley to Fishers Green to look for the drake Ring-necked Duck which Dom Mitchell had found in the morning (whilst walking his dog, no less).

Anyone that knows Seventy Acres Lake at Fishers Green will know it has a large number of small islands and many bays and inlets - all perfect for hiding ducks, so unless anyone was on the bird when I arrived I thought my task was going to be difficult especially as I was still feeling a little jaded, but for once luck was on my side and as I scanned the lake from the footbridge I picked it up straight away amongst a small flock of Tufted Duck, I even managed to position myself at eye level on the lakes edge and got a few photos which all appear to be in focus - amazing what you can achieve whilst hung-over!

Male, Lea Valley, London

Male, Lea Valley, London

Male, Lea Valley, London

Male, Lea Valley, London





Tuesday, 28 May 2019

All Cattle and not much Egret

I popped into Rainham Marsh this morning with my 10 year old son in tow and virtually the first bird we saw was a Cattle Egret flying across the Purfleet Scrape, it landed beyond a herd of cattle where it spent most of its time happily obscured by these big bovine beasts before flying out further into the marsh. The only other birds of note were 10 Ringed Plover on Target Pools and an Avocet pair with two recently fledged young on Butts Scrape, plus the usual Hobby, male Marsh Harrier and a calling Cuckoo - none the less an enjoyable couple of hours walk around the reserve and a nice way to start half-term week.

Rainham, RSPB
Cattle + Egret = Cattle Egret
Rainham, RSPB

Rainham, RSPB