Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Quadrennial Wood Warbler

Almost four years to the day, another spring Wood Warbler has rocked up on Wanstead Flats. This time in Long Wood just across the road from where I found that special Little Singer in the SSSI back in April 2015.

Navigating traffic in this part of the world is an ongoing battle, so I decided to jump on the bike straight after work to head straight to the Flats in hope of adding the Wood Warbler to the patch year list, smart move on my part as I'd reached Long Wood in less than 20 minutes and with James and Bruce already here, and both having recently heard the bird break briefly into song - I was confident of catching up with it. Less than 10 minutes later I'd picked out the clean white underparts of a Wood Warbler as it worked its way through the top of the canopy. This bird was in no mood for singing and was silent except for the the briefest of trills in the hour or so I was there, but the views were OK and I even managed to grab a photo as it briefly dropped a little lower down, but for most part it always kept to the higher reaches of the Oak canopy.

Seeing and hearing a spring Wood Warbler is always a bit special in London, I just hope I don't have to wait another four more years to experience another one.

Spring, Male, Singing
So it's not going to win any prizes but none the less a photo of a London Wood Warbler

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Worlds Largest Gull Visits Wanstead

The long Easter bank holiday didn't quite live up to expectation on the patch, due in part to the weather being clear, sunny and warm - great for topping up my suntan but not so great for grounding passage migrants to an urban London site. On the two visits I did managed to squeeze in, I added Yellow Wagtail, Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Great Black-backed Gull to the Year List.

While the focus was always on returning passage migrants, the two Great Black-backed Gulls (a 4th and 2nd calendar year birds) on Alexandra Lake were a bit of a highlight - it's only taken me four months to add one to the patch year list! Great Black-backed Gulls are usually only recorded as winter flyovers at Wanstead as they commute between the River Thames and the chain of Lee Valley reservoirs, so to get a couple of these big chunky gulls in spring on the deck and in different plumage's was a nice distraction from looking at the current crop of non-breeding mix of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls which are now set to spend their summer on the Flats.

GBB Gull, Adult, Summer
4CY Great Black-backed Gull
GBB Gull, 2CY, 2nd Calendar Year, Gulls
2CY Great Black-backed Gull

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Comical Patch Tick

When I wrote my last post Twenty Four Patch Possibilities I hadn't quite expected to see one of those possibilities so soon, but just a week later and number four on the list (Mandarin Duck) is now firmly on the patch list and is my 141st bird at Wanstead.

I'm not going to go into any of the details of how and when the bird was found as it's all beautifully summed up here by Jono, but let's just say it was one of the more comical patch ticks I've had the pleasure of, and now it's out of the way I don't ever have to make any effort for another one.

Male, Colourful, Beautiful
It's lovely isn't it...it's beautiful!
This short video clip is best enjoyed with the sound turned right up as to fully immerse yourself in the commentary and excitement of ticking such a wonderful bird which gave some amazing views...if you listen really carefully you can hear the chuckling of several of Wanstead's finest birders as the Mandarin Duck swam within just a few feet of the assembled patch workers.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Twenty Four Patch Possibilities

Last weekend I hit a little milestone when I added Garganey to the patch list - this was my 140th bird on the patch at Wanstead, and this got me thinking. I would dearly love to reach the 150 mark but trying to add 10 new birds isn't as easy you might think for this urban London site, however, given time and a little bit of luck over the next few years it might just be possible...that's if they don't all turn up on Birthday's, Anniversary's or Mother's Days!

So I've listed 24 possibilities that have been recorded at Wanstead in the last decade that could get me too or over the 150.
  1. Grasshopper Warbler (2 recent records, the most recent being a singing bird in the Old Sewage Works on the 14th April 2015)
  2. Kittiwake (4 recent records, 1 on Wanstead Flats on the 7th January 2014 being the most recent)
  3. Curlew (3 recent records, with one over the Flats on the 8th March 2014 being the most recent)
  4. Mandarin Duck (3 recent records, last recorded on the 30th March 2014 on Heronry Lake in the Park)
  5. Osprey (3 recent records, last recorded on the 13th April 2016 flying over Esso Copse)
  6. Crossbill (4 recent records, with a single bird on the 31st July 2015 over the Flats being the last record)
  7. Stone Curlew (2 recent records, last recorded 24th March 2013 over the SSSI)
  8. Turtle Dove (1 recent record of a bird on Wanstead Flats on the 19th May 2010)
  9. Dunlin (5 recent records, the last being recorded on Perch Pond 1st March 2018)
  10. Dartford Warbler (1 recent record in the Broom Fields on the 31st October 2009)
  11. Wood Sandpiper (2 recent records, one on Angel Pond on the 19th April 2011 being the last record)
  12. Oystercatcher (2 heard only recent records, last recorded over the Flats on 23rd October 2013)
  13. Marsh Harrier (5 recent records, last recorded 26th March 2018 over Jubilee)
  14. Honey Buzzard (a single bird over the Flats on the 23rd September 2000)
  15. Merlin (4 recent records, last recorded on 28th November 2016 over Alexandra Lake)
  16. Ringed Plover (1 recent record, 3 birds flying over the Fairground on the 26th April 2015)
  17. Redshank (3 recent records, with one over the SSSI on the 27th April 2015 being the last recorded)
  18. Greenshank (4 recent records, 2 birds on the 10th May 2016 over Alex were the last recorded)
  19. Whimbrel (3 recent records, a flock 33 birds over the Flats on 23rd April 2012 being the last recorded)
  20. Water Pipit (2 recent records, one on Alexandra Lake on the 21st October 2018 being the most recent)
  21. Rock Pipit (2 recent records, with one on the 16th October 2018 over the Flats being the most recent)
  22. Raven (A single record of a bird flying over the Flats on the 24th May 2016)
  23. Cattle Egret (1 recent record of a single bird over the Brooms on the 4th November 2018)
  24. Grey Plover (A single record from the Flats on the 9th February 2012)
Reeling, Rainham, RSPB, London
This would be a welcome sight and sound...especially after missing the Grasshopper Warbler in the Old Sewage Works in April 2015