Saturday, 3 March 2018

2 Years Ticks and a Caspian

With a fresh covering of snow arriving Friday afternoon, I was champing at the bit to get out onto the patch Saturday morning, as I was hoping for more of the same cold weather movement that Wanstead had experienced throughout the week. Arriving at Alexandra Lake I could see it was still mostly frozen but the temperature had risen above zero for the first time since last saturday and the big thaw had now begun. I bumped into Rob and we walked across the snow covered Flats together, it was apparent no birds were on the move and the skies were empty, apart from just a few pockets of Redwings and Fieldfares.

Rob was keen to add Stonechat to his year list and we headed to the Cat & Dog pond, and good news the wintering Stonechat had survived the big freeze and was still clambering to the tops of the long grass. As we walked the ditch towards the pond a Woodcock flew from cover giving us both good views as the bird circled the SSSI looking for somewhere else to hide. At this point Rob headed towards Bush Wood in search of Treecreeper and I headed back across the Flats and towards the Park in search of a certain large chunky-billed finch that was now being seen more frequently near the Temple and Glade areas.

As I searched the wooded areas around the Temple and Chalet Wood a few Redwings flew passed and with them was the unmistakable broad white-wing bars of the large finch I had been looking for - a Hawfinch! It was soon lost to view but I did manage to see it briefly again in flight before losing it as it flew deeper into Chalet Wood. With two quality year ticks now safely in the bag, I left the park and drove the short distance home.

I decided to stop off at Eagle Pond in Snaresbrook for quick look at the long staying Caspian Gull and soon found it standing on the ice. A family was feeding the ducks and to my surprise it flew from the ice and landed on the concrete edge of the lake along the walkway. This was the first time I had seen this bird do this, as it typically spends most if its time in the middle of the lake and would generally ignore any bread offerings to encourage it closer, maybe as we've gone through Winter it has now become more confident and tolerant of people, either way I was more than happy with the views.

3rd-winter, Gulls, London

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