Monday, January 5, 2015

Hello 2015

So here we go again. My first chance to get a score on the board for an opening round of local patch birding. With the Prof, we were both in pursuit of an agreeable total of species to set us up with what we hope will be a bumper patch year to compete with the bigger clubs in the league such as Wanstead FC. There seems to have been a few new signings as well as the regular match fit stalwarts still in peak form hoping for a decent run of results.

I don’t get the patch. Maybe I’ve been spoilt over the years in having had the pleasure of enjoying some great sites, Stockers Lake in Rickmansworth, and Tring Reservoirs. Walthamstow however with an impressive complex of water bodies, scrub, open grassland, streams, islands, deciduous woodland, and large areas of reed has rather disappointingly failed to impress in quality.

Starting at the Maynards, a Chiffchaff called from the scrub along Low Maynard, and three Egyptian Goose stood with nonchalance on the south bank of High Maynard –a bird I failed to see on my last visit. In the hope of Green Sandpiper, Prof connected with two birds sitting low down on the ramp along the relief channel that were typically flighty as we approached their roosting site. A little further up, a Common Sandpiper was flushed from the shoreline that on later photographic inspection did look questionably similar to a rare American cousin. Only the boldest would have turned it into one.

Appearing up over the bank of Lockwood, a pair of Goosander cruised elegantly mid-distance, the male looking radiant in dull conditions. Such a smart bird. They were nervous though and it wasn’t look before they took flight north towards the Banbury. The adult drake Scaup that has been present now for a couple of weeks was associating with Tufted Duck along the eastern shore. Three Goldeneye were also present here including a drake and two female.

These were the main highlights of the northern complex. The southern section started off with a couple of Fieldfare and half a dozen Redwing along No.4 where on No.5, another Common Sandpiper was flushed along the southern shore, a pair of Goldeneye were present, a Peregrine was seen distantly sat up on the spire of St. Saviours Church, and three Goldcrest were active in trees along Coppermill Lane.

East Warwick held seven Shoveler including four drakes, and a Water Rail called and was seen briefly in reeds where a pair of showy Stonechat were neatly balanced on top of the protruding foliage with another female further along the bank. From here, we were able to scope out to West Warwick where the two 1st winter male Scaup were in a state of rest close the southern bank with two female Goldeneye further along the water.

Heading away, the next stop was the site towards Leyton that held the Reed Warbler during December. Now I hadn’t been to the site before and was thus visibly bemused by the scene when I arrived. The location is totally absurd – surrounded by busy streets with the reverberations of traffic noise, this is essentially a roundabout with a stagnant ditch where brown rats abound, and where the detritus of London’s arse end festers. It is also where the wintering Reed Warbler and Common Whitethroat were seen regularly though December as well as Water Rail and Stonechat, the latter of which was seen today, a male that I was imploring to leave for somewhere far more pleasant. A Grey Wagtail sat incongruously alongside some discarded plastic, but no warblers and rightly so.

Hastily retreating to the Waterworks where other modest daylist additions were made, notably at least thirty Meadow Pipit flushed from the tussocks of the old pitch and putt. The paddocks produced very little and thus we had exhausted both ourselves and the possibilities for further species.

And that was pretty much it, some decent birds, and a tiring slog round the patch that yielded 64 species in total. A respectable start to the season.

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