Monday, March 23, 2015


Having missed out on all the fun yesterday out on the reservoirs, I cut a solitary figure as I slowly ambled my way round the Lockwood.  The morning looked promising, it was bright with a few clouds, but that wind still had a bite to it.

For once, I was in no rush - so I took my time to look.  What was evident were the number of Meadow Pipit flying through.  There was a steady trickle of birds all morning that must have cumulatively numbered over a hundred, small groups - threes or fours, but the occasional group of 10+ heading in a northerly direction.  Visible migration over East London.

The first quality bird were three Scaup, a drake and two female birds still present, but no sign of the fourth seen yesterday.  Continuing toward the north end, a bright shape appeared distantly into view along the eastern bank.  A smart male Northern Wheatear fed actively along the grass path - such a stunning bird.  I spent a few minutes observing its syncopated movements, hopping down onto the margins before it flew toward the north end where I failed to relocate it.

The sun was still shining, but the warmth was being tempered by the cool breeze.  A pair of Kestrel flew across the reservoir, two Shelduck swam lazily close to the south end, and four Goldeneye (two pairs) lingered.

Heading toward the southern complex, I picked up a Common Buzzard flying reasonably low beyond the Maynards on the east side.

The raptor count hit three with a displaying pair of Sparrowhawk.  The male was fascinating to watch, circling while courting slow deliberate wingbeats.

Heading onto East Warwick, development was underway on the north-west corner - perhaps where the carousel will be located.  A couple of works vehicles drove round the bank but I persevered and chose to park my posterior on the far bank and pin my eyes to the sky.

There were a lot of high flying gulls, scanning through them, I surprisingly picked up a Red Kite that soared high and in a southerly direction.  I lay back and pointed the camera skyward.

With this sighting, it was conceivable that more raptors may cruise by.  Subsequently there were perhaps two more Common Buzzard, the latter of these was particularly high so may have involved different individuals considering the one seen earlier.

Raptor number five was a boisterous female Peregrine that flew low across East Warwick before gaining height toward the west.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Walthamstow Marshes

Cold and grey and uninspiring.

7 singing Chiffchaff
3m Reed Bunting
7 Meadow Pipit
2 Goldcrest
1 Little Egret

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Counting Crows

It warmed up quite nicely this afternoon but pushed for time, I headed down to Walthamstow Marshes to see what was occurring there.  Deciding to have a decent look round, I picked up a nice fresh White Wagtail in with a flock of 40+ Pied Wagtail on the rear paddocks.

Apart from that it was reasonably quiet but for a male Kestrel, a count of 81 Carrion Crow, and three singing Chiffchaff.

Heading back past the paddocks, there was a decent flock of finches containing around 25 Linnet, at least ten Chaffinch and a Goldfinch.

Five Fieldfare and two Redwing were also present.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Barn Owl - Patch

The first Barn Owl on the patch since God was a boy.

In four days: Barn Owl, Mediterranean Gull, Goosander, Scaup, Goldeneye, Peregrine, Common Sandpiper.... should stop whinging really.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Still no summer migrants but plenty of helicopters.  Breezy this afternoon on Lockwood where a Meadow Pipit had me second guessing it could have been something else.  There were three Goldeneye and the continuing pair of Scaup roosted on the westside.  A Chiffchaff called from the woodland on the north end, and a Goldcrest sang from the fir trees adjacent to the Lea.

East Warwick was much more exciting as the Mediterranean Gull reported earlier was still present on the southside.  Scoped from the opposite bank, I then watched it fly toward the filter beds which I'm sure it has been all winter!

Also present there were a Common Snipe flushed from the now sparsely vegetated bank, three Goldeneye and three Shoveler.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Slightly later than yesterday but was on the ressies by 7am.  Another lovely morning as the early morning sun shone through high cloud as it lingered just above the horizon.

Nothing really inspiring early on, Onto No.4 first flushing a Common Sandpiper from the banks, and then watching a Kingfisher near to its traditional breeding site on No.5.  Two Meadow Pipit flew over East Warwick, where a pair of Goldeneye were present.

Onto Lockwood a 1st year Greater Black Backed Gull sat preening on tern raft.  I may have missed the pair of Scaup seen later on in the day but I preserved toward the top end.  Sitting on the far bank was a lovely drake Goosander that once alerted to my presence took to the water.

On the overflow beyond Lockwood, a decent count of 35 Teal, 11 Gadwall, two Shelduck, and two Little Egret made for a day saving congregation.

Monday, March 9, 2015


So an early start today and I was on the reservoirs by 6.30am in the hope for some early migrants.

Well the early migrants didn't appear as hoped but what I did have were six Goldeneye, three on East Warwick, a drake on No.1,and a pair on Lockwood.  A lone Jackdaw was a nice surprise flying low over the Lockwood.

A Common Sandpiper was seen flicking its wings low over High Maynard, a Cetti's Warbler called from near to the gatehouse, two Kingfisher were present and active near to the sluice at the Lockwood entrance.

A male Sparrowhawk flew low along the stream adjacent to the Lea, and a Reed Bunting flew into reeds on West Warwick.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Local Stuff

A leisurely stroll down to the Valley bumping into a couple of regular fellow patchers - was great just to hang out and chat about life both human and wild.  This was Sunday.  This was my church.

The Waterworks had a singing Chiffchaff, a nice starter on a lovely still sunny morning.  A Small Tortoiseshell then emerged and settled in close proximity.

Out on the beds, a Cetti's Warbler called and made a brief appearance as it shot passed the hide.  An earlier sighting of Common Snipe produced a single bird that roosted at the edge of the reedbed from Bed 15.  A pair of Shoveler and a dozen Teal were present here, and six Tufted Duck flew onto the main pond.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Hit and Miss

A first trip out of London in the company of The Prof and The Partridge had us heading northbound toward The Fens and to The Brecks for vagrants and specialties and whatever we could find.  First stop was Fen Drayton in search of a Glossy Ibis that drew a complete blank despite a frenetic search around its favoured location.  Stopping briefly, two birders pointed us in the direction of a Barn Owl. It was 10am and this elegant bird was doing a day shift, perched along the fenceline and then seen on a brief hunting sortie over the nearby marsh.

We pressed on towards the Ouse Washes in search of Crane, but there was no sign of them either which maintained our hundred per cent success rate on not having seen our targets.

However, by this time, Whooper Swan had also been added to the day list, as well as double-digit numbers of Common Buzzard, flocks of Lapwing, three Common Snipe, and plenty of Goldeneye on the lakes.

Our lack of a score was up there with Villa's ineptitude in front of goal this season, but so much like the Villa, this wasn't for the lack of trying.  And like Villa in the last week, we scored, with a Goshawk, well a couple actually.  Standing on a traditional Breck-land location, a distant Gos was picked up on a piercing cool breeze.  The boys had sightings that I missed, but eventually connected on a bird that soared along the treeline until my eyes grew tired and I could look no more.

Then another bird emerged from the forest, much closer this time, and was followed as it flew toward us and over the road where we were standing.  Nice view.  A presumed female, less well marked but an impressive sight.

We moved on, just down the road and stopping at the sight of a Yellowhammer, and serendipitously connecting with two Woodlark as they fed in a pig field.

Then there weren't Willow Tits.

So onto Lynford Arboretum.  What a treat.  At least four Hawfinch fed on the woodland four showing extremely well with at least three Brambling including a male that was sporting a near black hood.  A Nuthatch, Marsh Tit, and male Yellowhammer were present as well as numerous Siskin feeding on the pines.  The Hawfinch stole the show for me, three were stunning male birds and were full of character as they searched beneath the foliage for forest fruits.  Muscular and gaudy, these are such delightful birds.

There weren't any early Stone Curlew, but a Red Admiral, Snowdrop, and Muntjac Deer, created an ensemble of epic Spring wildlife.

Video featuring Hawfinch, Barn Owl, and Brambling to follow.