Saturday, 28 November 2015

Great Northern Diver, Fairlop Waters

Winter finally arrived last weekend with an icy blast of air from the north, bringing with it a much anticipated first wave of birds influenced by the cold weather. Locally this produced a female Goldeneye and a 1st-Winter Caspian Gull on the Flats - the Casp was probably less influenced by the weather, but it was still an excellent local find - shame I somehow managed to miss both birds!

Along with the first big movement of Little Auks along the East Coast, which included a bird seen flying up the Thames at Grays, Great northern Divers were also popping up on inland waters, including a bird found locally at Fairlop Waters. This bird has stayed all week and today gave me my the first opportunity to go see it, which made for a welcome change of routine away from the patch on a Saturday morning.

On a fresh and bright morning the bird showed reasonably well, never too close and often playing dodge with the rowing and sailing boats on the lake, the bird seemed fit and healthy and was constantly diving for long periods, covering an enormous area under water. After a brief catch up with Shaun Harvey and with the threat of a parking fine and not much change for the machine, I gave it just over an hour on site before heading home, more than satisfied with views. 

Fairlop Waters, London, Essex

Fairlop Waters, London, Essex


Sunday, 1 November 2015

East London's favourite Med Gull

Two more year ticks added to the patch list at the weekend, with a single flyover Lapwing and an adult winter Mediterranean Gull bolstering the numbers up to the heady heights of 102.

The Med Gull in question was of course 'Valentino' or should that be 'Valentino Alexandra' given the amount of time he now chooses to spend on the Flats and especially the area around Alexandra lake, away from he's usual wintering haunt of Valentines Park, Ilford. Remarkably this is the 16th consecutive winter Valentino has returned to East London - I'm not sure how many more years the old boy's got left, but he'll be sadly missed when he eventually fails to show up one autumn.

I've had the pleasure of pointing the camera at Valentino on Wanstead Flats several times over the last few years - it's always nice when you have a willing subject, photographs were mainly of him sat or stood on the football pitches amongst the other Gulls, loafing around the edge of the lake and then occasionally in flight between the two, so it was good to get something a little different with him actually on the water. It was initially difficult to get the shot I wanted when facing directly into the light, but eventually this was made a lot easier as he drifted under the darkened areas of shade created from the trees on the island - it sounds a bit arty-farty but I do the like the contrast of the dark water and background with the whiteness of the subject.

Valentino, Wanstead

Valentino, Wanstead

Valentino, Wanstead

Valentino, Wanstead