Monday, November 23, 2015


It was again a beautiful, cool, still morning at the Waterworks and with plenty of interest on and over the reserve.

On Bed 18, a personal best count of 12 Shoveler were in company with six Gadwall, four Tufted Duck, and two Little Grebe.  Three Goldcrest and two Chiffchaff remained in the bushes along the main path.  A Reed Bunting was present in the reeds.

A flyover Jackdaw was again a scarce sighting with other skyward sightings that included two Skylark, three Stock Dove, two Little Egret, ten Fieldfare, seven Greater Black Backed Gull, single Sparrowhawk (that was in an intense battle with a corvid), and an adult Peregrine that flew onto its favoured pylon.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Walthamstow Reservoirs

Today was the calm after the storm and there were reasonable hopes for finding a 'wrecked' seabird on our local.  Well inevitably this never transpired, but it was a stunning morning nevertheless, hardly a breath of wind and the blue skies were textured with patches of high cloud.

I concentrated solely on the south side where the first sightings were of Fieldfare, small flocks totalling 50+ passing overhead.  Common Gull were now present in good numbers with many 1st winters accompanying the adult birds.

Passing along the banks of East Wawrick, three Lapwing alighted from the island and circled the reservoir before heading north where they were later observed over Lockwood.  My first Goldeneye of the winter was present, with a sole female there.

On West Warwick, a female Stonechat appeared from the reedbed, and a pair were later seen on East Warwick.  An Aythya hybrid was also on West Warwick, and appeared to be the same bird that has been present on the Waterworks for a few days.

Five Meadow Pipit flew through.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


A very dull day on the reserve where the most notable sighting were of 30+ Magpie passing through the treeline at the back of the Beds.

Three Goldcrest and a single Chiffchaff were present as was the calling Cetti's Warbler.

The interesting 'Aythya' hybrid was still associating with it's bona-fide peers on bed 18.

'Aythya' hybrid

Monday, November 16, 2015


Routine fare today in dull conditions but with a good selection of birds on the reserve and overhead.

A count of the wildfowl across the Beds yielded 17 Gadwall, 23 Teal, five Pochard, four Tufted Duck, and seven Shoveler.

A single Redpoll flew past Bed 16 as did a couple of Stock Dove.  A Snipe roosted at the back of Bed 16 at the edge of the reedbed.

A Cetti's Warbler called and a Water Rail squealed almost simultaneously.  There were eight Common Gull passing through over the reserve along with eight Meadow Pipit.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Chesterfield - Crag Martin

It took three trips to see the Crag Martin, but ultimately it was worth the effort as this rare vagrant dashed around the Parish Church in Chesterfield.  The church itself provided a wonderful backdrop for a particularly bizarre sighting of this hirundine.

Having failed to see it on Monday and Wednesday, I was relieved to catch up with the turbo-charged Martin as it whizzed back, forth, and around the spire providing the onlookers with an impressive aerobatic display.

For me it was an agonising week having had two failures, but these are the obvious pitfalls of twitching which I have somehow been drawn into over the last couple of years.  I am enjoying seeing new things, but I still harbour a few questions inside me of why exactly I am doing this.

Numbers, lists, competition, credibility, position, all play a part.  I was once scathing of twitching in my youth, now look at me.  Three trips of three hour single journeys to see one bird.

I am not sure whether twitching is a mild form of mental illness, but I understand the draw and the obsession.  It's a slippery slope that I am on, it serves no real purpose, it's not really why I fundamentally enjoy birding and wildlife, but it is really quite addictive. 

Friday, November 13, 2015


Starting to feel really quiet now as we creep slowly toward the winter months.  The autumn is now past its peak and it was particularly quiet overhead.

On the pools, there were counts of 29 Teal and 10 Shoveler.  A lone Chiffchaff and four Goldcrest were still present within the techni-coloured hues of the autumn leaves.

A single Snipe was tucked away in Bed 17, while two Redwing zipped through low toward the paddocks.

A lone adult Greater Black Backed Gull flew through.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


The Waterworks Nature Reserve.  A calming oasis set within the chaos of East London.  A dull November morning but there was a lot of interest both on the ground and in the air.

The main highlight was a Short-eared Owl that cruised over before heading north, alerting the attention of local crows and gulls.  A Firecrest showed well briefly with two seen earlier.  A Peregrine flew through heading predictably towards one of the pylons.

My first groups of Fieldfare of the autumn with around 55 flying north, and a single Redwing.

Other counts included a squealing Water Rail, four Redpoll, single Siskin, 10 Tufted Duck, 8 Shoveler, a male Reed Bunting, and a single adult Greater Black Backed Gull.

Short-eared Owl

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Rainham Marshes

Missed out on the Dartford Warbler but at least four Water Pipit on the newly reshaped Butts Lagoon were nice to see.

Elsewhere on a brief visit, six Common Snipe, 12 Pintail, 3 Kingfisher, and a Common Buzzard were seen.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Landguard Point - Pied Wheatear

Wheatear definitely have the wow factor.  What is it about them?  Take the female Northern Wheatear, buffish tones, an upright stance, and a white rump.  But they never fail to grab my attention.

Today these Wheatear moments were amplified with the adult male Pied Wheatear at Landguard Point.  Actually when the news came through, my car was at the garage being repaired but thankfully had been completed in time for a quick scamper across the counties to see this stunning bird.  I couldn't keep my eyes off it.

The bird was flightly, hardly surprising with camera toting birders chasing it along the shoreline.  But it showed really well as the published photos would testify.

I love this bird.  It's black mask uniformly blending into the dark wings and mantle but notably contrasting with a thick ochre supercilium and a rusty crown.

The birds constant activity allowed great views of the peachy hues to the breast extending down to the underparts, and the dark inverted 'T' shape to the tail.  There was so much to look at and to take in - and for me the joys of birding and wildlife are both the detail and the environment in equal measure.


So, things are looking up.... which is what I generally tend to do when I head over to the Waterworks. Standing in the central area by the hides in what I call 'The Circle' (primarily owing to its circular arrangement) I stand, staring into the ether looking hopelessly deranged in the hope of some interesting flyovers.

It's generally been quite good recently, a max count of 28 Lapwing on the 27th October was interesting, and today had a promising feel to things.

It started with the Firecrest, present now for a couple of days, and seen early doors by @jarpartridge. It then politely emerged from the bushes by the main path allowing an attempt at a video grab that I inexplicably stopped as it appeared out in the open. Very sloppy. Half a dozen Goldcrest were also present.

From the hides, three Snipe were typically secluded within the reeds of Bed 16, but the Cetti's Warbler there had other ideas. This bird was evidently a little bonkers, chacking away and uncharacteristically showing itself off. It's a tidy bird when you actually get to see it.

And so to the circle, and the roll call of avian activity is as follows;

A total of nine Siskin and three Redpoll were flyovers. Two Peregrine each flew onto separate pylons ( you take that one, I'll take this one). A murderous group of 13 Jackdaw was definitely a personal record count. There were actually a lot of corvids around with over 50 Carrion Crow counted.

In addition, a single Reed Bunting, four Mistle Thrush, two Common Gull, two Little Egret, three Grey Wagtail, and two Meadow Pipit were flyovers.

Also conspicuous was Woodpigeon movement with a combined total of over 1000 birds seen flying through during the course of the morning.

Also seen by @jarpartridge were a Water Rail and Skylark completing a decent selection of birds for a November morning.