Sunday, 30 December 2018

2018 - My Birding Year at Wanstead

I suppose 2018 at Wanstead will be remembered for the long staying immature Red-backed Shrike which delighted many visitors to the scrub east of Alexandra Lake and also London's third ever record of Rustic Bunting in the burnt out Broom scrub which stayed for five days and drew big crowds of twitchers over the weekend of the 20th/21st October, these two birds were both wonderful patch ticks, but there were a cast of other birds throughout the year which all help to make 2018 a memorable one on the patch.

I added seven new birds to the patch list in 2018 which now stands on a reasonable 139.

1. Great White Egret - 17th January
2. Rook - 31st March
3. Black-tailed Godwit - 4th August
4. Red-backed Shrike - 28th August
5. Rustic Bunting - 18th October
6. Barn Owl - 20th October
7. Short-eared Owl - 25th October

I finished the year on 109 a new personal high total, but this could have been even better as there were several notable omissions (Common Tern, Garden Warbler, Tree Pipit, Tawny Owl and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker) which would have made what was a great year into an amazing year, but as with any year listing patch birder it's sometimes the birds you don't see that make the most interesting reading.

Along with birds mentioned above, other highlights in 2018 was a self-found Yellow-browed Warbler in Long Wood on the 29th September, two 1st-winter Caspian Gulls (10th Nov/27th Dec), finding my 10th Mediterranean Gull (17th March) and who can forget the 'Beast from the East' which delivered big movements (1500+) of Lapwing at the end of February, although dipping a Dunlin (this would have been a patch tick) on Perch Lake in Wanstead Park was probably the years biggest disappointment.

Here's a selection of photos from the year on the patch...

Bush Wood, Wanstead
Firecrest in Bush Wood
Wanstead Park, London
Great White Egret on Perch Lake
Wanstead Park, London
Bullfinch in Wanstead Park
Wanstead Flats, London
Med Gull number 10 on Wanstead Flats
Wanstead Flats, London
Black-tailed Godwit on Alexandra Lake
Wanstead Flats, London
Red-backed Shrike - Alexandra Scrub, Wanstead Flats
Wanstead Flats, London
Rustic Bunting, Wanstead Flats
Wanstead Flats, London
Barn Owl, Wanstead Flats
Wanstead Flats, London
1st-winter Caspian Gull, Wanstead Flats
Here's wishing you all very happy New Year and good birding throughout 2019.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

1st-winter Caspian Gull on the Flats

Having tried and failed to find this blasted Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in the Park (that's a least 6 attempts I've given it!) I went and checked out Alexandra Lake for a bit of post Christmas Gulling and sure enough I struck gold with a 1st-winter Caspian Gull standing amongst the Common Gulls on the shingle bank of the lake - I took the photos below before it unfortunately flew-off east, probably towards the Thames.

Yet again, it's not a classic Caspian but another Western looking bird with German genes and given it's smallish size mostly likely a female, but all the same another smart looking bird.




Caspian Gull on the patch used to be a bit of a rarity but this is now the third 1st-winter Caspian Gull to grace the Flats this winter. The upturn in sightings possibly reflects the increase in numbers this winter along the Thames but also the continuing education amongst local birders (myself included) regarding the ID of this species.