Monday, 25 February 2019

Juvenile Common Gull in February!

Fairly quiet around the patch at the weekend (not helped by the unseasonably warm weather) but whilst scanning through the usual roost of gulls on the football pitches I came across this 1st-winter Common Gull which had yet to moult and was still (more or less) in complete juvenile plumage. I've seen similar birds in December and January, but never in February and this late into the new year.

Seeing a Common Gull in February still in juvenile plumage would suggest it came from an area of northern late breeding populations or even a more eastern direction which would suggest ssp (heinei).

Food for thought, and one for the many gull enthusiasts to mull over...

Juvenile, 1st-winter, 2CY

Juvenile, 1st-winter, 2CY

Juvenile, 1st-winter, 2CY

Juvenile, 1st-winter, 2CY

Thursday, 21 February 2019

The Wanstead Wheatear Sweepstake 2019

It's here, the wait is over...One of the biggest and most anticipated birding contests is almost upon us - The Wanstead Wheatear Sweepstake.
  • 9 Contestants
  • 18 Dates
  • 1 Bird
  • 1 Champion
Team Wanstead have selected their dates, the long winter and dark mornings are almost over, spring is on the horizon and everyone's favourite summer migrant will soon be gracing these shores again.

And the questions on everybody's lips - Who will be this years champion? Will Rob retain his crown? Will Jono be in the country? And will Richard actually make any effort at all? Only time will tell, but as we count down the days until the first of this years Wheatears arrive, you can follow all the action on here, as regular updates will be posted as the excitement builds and the tension grows...

The rules of the contest are simple, whoever correctly predicts the date of the first sighting of a Wheatear on the patch - wins! And there's an added bonus prize if you're also the finder.

We await official sponsorship (I'm in talks with Leica and a local chicken shop) of this nationally publicised contest and until such a time the prizes will be same as last year - a drink of your choice in the local Wetherspoons pub including bar snacks, and the presentation of the 'Golden Wheatear Trophy' (still to be purchased).

Good luck...


Sunday, 10 February 2019

Holyfield Lake Ferruginous Duck - Wild or Plastic?

I had the choice between standing in a sterile Wanstead woodland in search of an elusive Lesser Spotted Woodpecker or going to look at a plastic duck - The plastic duck won! And I'm glad I chose the latter as the drake Ferruginous Duck at Holyfield Lake looked really smart in the early morning winter light.

Whenever a Ferruginous Ducks shows up, there's aways a question mark over the birds origins but this bird could actually be the real deal. It was certainly behaving like a wild bird (keeping its distance and acting skittish in and around the lake edge vegetation) and it's also un-ringed which should rule it out from being part of the German reintroduction scheme or an escape from a local collection, and Holyfield Lake is also a good location with lots of wintering wildfowl. Despite these good points in favour of the bird being wild - we'll never know for sure, but as Ferruginous Ducks go, this is probably as good as it gets now days in terms of the possibility of it actually being a genuine vagrant and was well worth the short drive up the Lee Valley to see it.

Male, Winter, Wild, Plastic

Whilst the Fudge Duck slept on, a pair of Great Crested Grebes put on a wonderful courtship display of their famous 'weed dance' and was a nice distraction while I waited for duck to actually do something.

Weed Dance, Courtship, Display

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Redwings

Despite the recent snow and and drop in temperature, there appears to be very little cold weather movement of birds on the patch. I did my usual Saturday morning circuit of Wanstead Flats and Park and birds were generally thin on the ground, the only points of interest were an increase in winter thrushes. Fieldfares in particular have been few and far between since the start of the new year, with just single birds noted, but today I recorded up to forty (mostly flying over) but there were ones and twos on the deck as I crossed the football pitches. And in the park around the area of Chalet Wood, Redwings had also notably increased in number, and were a nice distraction while I continued to search for a rather elusive female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker!

Winter Thrush, London

Winter Thrush, London

Winter Thrush, London