Friday, 13 November 2020

Reservoir Logs - October round-up

One of three Scoter recorded in October pic @Chris_Farthing

     Another good month with the highlight being the long-awaited and long-overdue first Yellow-browed Warbler for the reservoirs even if it rather spoilt the historic occasion by keeping resolutely out of sight. October also brought two more excellent additions to the year list in Kittiwake and Crossbill - both extremely rare - as well the more regular Rock Pipit and Short-eared Owl. There were also  several records of fly-over Siskins and Redpoll which, like Crossbill, were seen in unusual numbers in London this autumn as well as late dates for summer migrants. The five additions take the annual total so far to 144 which is not only 13 above last year's figure but also 2018 & 2017's totals. 

          A drake Red-crested Pochard made a typically brief appearance pic @OwlTurbot    

     Ducks continued their good autumn showing. The young Shelduck spent the entire month lounging around the southern end of No 3. Individual Wigeon remained from the September influx until the 17th with ten recorded on the 14th. The second Red-crested Pochard of the year was a smart drake on the 5th. News came through of the origin of another Tufted Duck with a nasal saddle found by CF at the end of September. The saddle does not seem to cause any problems as the drake is at least seven years old having been first caught at Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu near Nantes in western France in November 2013. With a peak count of 1197 Tufted Ducks in early October, it was not short of company... 

        A second French Tufted Duck choose the Wetlands for its moult pic @Chris_Farthing     

     The first Goldeneye of the autumn was a young female-type on the 17th which only stayed until the next day. Our regular birds had still not arrived by the end of the month. Common Scoter is not even annual at the reservoirs with blank years in five of the last ten so two separate records in one month is exceptional. The first were a pair seen by GJ on the 17th arriving from the north on Lockwood before departing south 20 minutes later while CF found a female on West Warwick two days later.  

                     A pair of Scoter departing after a brief rest on Lockwood pic @Chris_Farthing.
 
     September's two Black-necked Grebes remained on Lockwood until at least the 15th with one being seen up to the 19th. Water Rails were heard and occasionally seen throughout the month across the reservoirs. 

        With the Woolley hide shut, seeing Water Raid is far harder this winter pic@OwlTurbot
 
      October was, as usual, a poor month for waders with just five species. They included four  Lapwing on the 3rd and another on the 16th & 17th while the only Dunlin on the 18th narrowly escaped a hunting Peregrine.  Small numbers of Snipe were seen while Common Sandpipers were recorded in ones or twos until the 10th. High water levels in the overflow channel again meant Green Sandpipers, too, were scarce with records only on the 3rd & 12th. 

Common Snipe were regularly feeding on the reservoir banks pic @sjnewton

   The Wetlands are, for good reason, rarely considered a sea-bird hotspot. But DC earned his reward for braving torrential rain and gale-force winds on the 3rd when a young Kittiwake - the first for at least three years - went north over Lockwood. This was followed, to his amazement, soon after by the second Gannet of the year going south. Different Yellow-legged Gulls were found on 12th and 15th.  There was more proof that Great Egret are getting commoner when the third record of the year was seen by CF going south very early on the 26th. 

        The third Great Egret of the year flew south with two Little Egrets pic @Chris_Farthing

   Birds of prey, apart from the regular Peregrines and Sparrowhawks and more occasional Kestrel, were restricted to a Buzzard on the 13th. But LB plugged one of the gaps on the year list when he saw a Short-eared Owl over Lockwood on the 23rd. There was no repeat of last year's mass Jackdaw migration except for one flock of around 50 on the 12th.  Coal Tit, while still bewilderingly rare at the Wetlands, appears to be another species getting easier to see with two on the 18th and another on the 26th. Two Skylarks were also seen on flying over on the 18th with a third on the 28th and two more on the 31st. 

   After being scarce throughout the Spring and early Autumn, there was a spate of Swallow records with six on the 2nd, two on the 3rd & 5th and the last on the 12th - seven days earlier than the final sighting in 2019. The last Sand Martin was seen on the 2nd while as many as 60 House Martin were still feeding over the reservoirs on the 7th when most seemed to depart. A very tardy individual was seen on the 28th, two weeks later than the last record in 2019.  

    A late Sedge Warbler was seen on the 1st and an even later Willow Warbler on the 10th. But the warbler of the month - and the year - was a Yellow-browed Warbler which DC heard calling several times just across the Lea in the Ferry Boat Inn car-park. Despite searching thoroughly, it stayed out of sight and presumably vanished with the accompanying tit flock into the Paddock scrub. As Yellow-browed has now been recorded across London, it was inevitable one would eventually turn up at the reservoirs but it just a shame it did not hang around. 

    Redwing were few in number this month but always a treat to see perched pic @OwlTurbot 

    In some Octobers, a westerly passage of winter thrushes as well as Wood Pigeons, Starlings and finches can be a feature of early mornings but not this year. The highest counts of Redwing were 70 on the 12th and 30 on the 15th while Fieldfare were even scarcer. Compared to last year, when 270 were counted on one day, Fieldfare numbers did not reach double figures although the first six on the 12th were five days earlier. 

     This Whinchat stayed eight days later than the 2019's last record  pic @EugeneDH_Bass   
    
   Stonechats kept up their good showing throughout the month - with highest count of six on the 7th -  as did Whinchat with a late record from the 6th to the 10th. Three Wheatears were also seen on the 6th & 7th with the last one  - earlier than usual - on the 10th. 

                Up to six Stonechats could be seen on the reservoirs this month pic AMP 



         Two of the three Rock Pipits seen during throughout the month pics @Chris-Farthing

   

    The Wetlands often has to wait until October for the first Rock Pipit of the year. This month there could have been as many as three. The first was found by RE on the 1st which was presumably the same bird seen on the 3rd. Another was found by CF on 14th with records until the 17th while a third was photographed by RS on the 27th. It was also a good month for scarce finches not just at the Wetlands but across London. The highlight was eight Crossbills - a species only recorded on the wider patch in four of the last ten years - seen flying low over No 4 by RE on the 9th. Lesser Redpoll were also seen on four dates with six on the 24th and 27th and eight on 31st while single Siskin were seen on several days with small numbers overflying on the 10th. The list was completed by a Brambling found by AMP on 18th. 

           One of a surprisingly high number of Redpoll seen this month pic @sjnewton

   With so many species already recorded, it is going to be hard work to add more to the year list. But the reservoirs are still waiting on our annual visit from Barnacle Goose. 


       DB @porthkillier                                                 






                                                                                    

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Reservoir Logs - September round-up


     Whinchats - among the smartest of British birds - performed well this month pic @sjnewton

   September kept up the excellent run of recent months with nine species added to the year list including the first Gannet since 2012 and the first Tawny Owl in recent memory. The new additions also included three ducks - Pintail, Mandarin and Red-crested Pochard - as well as a male Ring Ouzel along with fly-over Ringed Plover, Redpoll and Siskin

              Gale-force winds dropped a juvenile Gannet onto Lockwood pic @wheresrhys

    September also saw the second Great Egret of the year, two obliging Black-necked Grebes, an influx of Wigeon and a trickle of Whinchat, Spotted Flycatchers and Yellow Wagtails. The additions take the year list so far to a remarkable 139 - eight more than at the end of October in 2019 and the same total at the end of September as the Wetlands' stellar 2018. It might have been even better if the two Cranes which flew south east from Tyttenhanger to Wanstead and then onto Rainham on the 27th - a route which must have put them close to the reservoirs - had been picked up. 

      A smart Pintail began to reveal itself as a male as the month went on @pic @OwlTurbot

    It was a good month for ducks at the reservoirs. A young Shelduck stayed throughout, preferring the shelter of No 1 reservoir to the North Sea mud-flats. Shoveler numbers peaked at 116 on the 16th, slightly higher than last year's maximum total of 110..The easterly airflow mid-month saw a surprise influx of Wigeon with the first recorded on the 16th, nine next day and at least twelve on the 19th and 20th with birds seen regularly through the rest month. For comparison, none were seen in September  last year.  

        A flock of nine Wigeon was a high number for the Wetlands pic  @Callahanbirder

     A smart Pintail was found by TR on the 2nd on Lockwood with it or another seen on No 1 on the 20th and again on East Warwick on the 24th and 28th. The longer it stayed, the clearer it became that it was a male. London has a large naturalised population of both Mandarin and Red-crested Pochard but, despite the seemingly good habitat, they rarely visit the reservoirs. A duck found by RE hiding on the southern island of High Maynard on the 22nd was, after careful study of photographs, confirmed as a juvenile Mandarin as he suspected. As usual for the species, it soon slipped away unnoticed.  

     A young Mandarin made a typically brief appearance on High Maynard pic @wheresrhys

   The eclipse Red-crested Pochard  found by DC on East Warwick on the 2nd was the first of the year and a month earlier than the first in 2019. Tufted Ducks remained in good numbers with a count of 1218 mid-month. But it is getting now very late for Garganey which may be one of the unexpected misses of 2020 while the Wetlands has yet to have a visit this year by Barnacle Geese. 

           A tame Black-necked Grebe drew plenty of admirers to Lockwood pic @OwlTurbot.....

    ....and was later joined by a second bird until the end of the month pic @Chris_Farthing
   
         The second record of Black-necked Grebe for the year was found on the 18th on Lockwood and was joined by another on the 25th with both performing well until the end of the month. It was June 2012 when a Gannet - an adult - last turned up at the reservoirs. This time it was a juvenile seen by RE  landing on Lockwood in strong NW winds on the 27th. As it headed south, it collided with power lines but fortunately seemed none the worse as it changed direction and was tracked over KGV and then Hertfordshire. While watching from his loft on the 7th, LB picked up another Great Egret heading north over Lockwood. 

    After two good months for waders, September was poor with just five species recorded. The highlight was a Ringed Plover LB heard over No 5 on the 11th with the only Oystercatcher also a heard-only record the same day. Single Snipe were seen on the 18th, 19th and 29th with three on the 27th. Common Sandpipers were seen until the end of the month with four on the 21st the highest count while three Green Sandpipers were seen on the 20th and two next day.  

 A IY Mediterranean Gull over Lockwood was third of the year pic @Chris_Farthing 

     The first Water Rail of the autumn was heard on the 20th with another found dead on the main road on the same day. Yellow-legged Gulls were seen on the 20th and 27th while a IY Mediterranean Gull was found by PL over the overflow channel and later over Lockwood. Common Terns lingered on with last record of a family of four on the late date of the 9th.

    A Red Kite was recorded on the 22nd with single Buzzards on 5th, 13th, 20th and 21st and 2 on the 10th. Hobby continued to be frequent visitors to the reservoirs with records from at least eight days right up to the 29th with two on the 7th. Last year, there were only two records for the month and just one in 2018. DC was rewarded for an early start on the reservoirs on the 27th when he heard a Tawny Owl hooting from the nearby Paddock. Although it is a species which occurs nearby and must hunt over the reservoirs, this seems to be the first heard or seen from the Wetlands in recent years. 

           Spotted Flycatchers were enjoyed on five days this month pic @OwlTurbot

   The final Swifts of the year were three on the 11th, departing three days earlier than last year. The last Sand Martin was seen on the 25th with a few House Martins, as usual, remaining until the end of the month. Last year's autumn round up commented that ''worryingly low' numbers of Swallows had been seen on passage with a peak count of only 38. This month the total number seen was far below 38 although other sites in the capital don't seem to have seen such a decline. The highest day total was a paltry six  on the 2nd & 20th with the last bird of the month, on a bitingly cold day, on the 27th. 

 It is always much more difficult to be certain of final rather than first dates for summer visitors. But the Sedge Warbler on the 29th was definitely later than last year's 16th as was Common Whitethroat on the 23rd rather than the 10th. The last Lesser Whitethroat of September was seen on the 26th and Reed Warbler on the 22nd but both can turn up in October as the Lesser Whitethroat did last year. Passage of Willow Warblers petered out mid-month with four recorded on the 15th.   

      A male Ring Ousel stopped just long enough for @IvorHewstone to grab these images

    The first Redwing of the autumn were on the early date of the 27th when they were seen across London with seven more next day. Ring Ouzels are usually Spring visitors at the Wetlands so the male which fed briefly on berries early on the 17th before flying onto Tottenham Marsh closed a gap on the year list.   

                                  Whinchats are always photogenic ..........pic AMP

   Two Spotted Flycatchers were seen on the 1st with singles on the 4th & 5th, 7th, 12th and 23rd. It continued to be a good autumn for Whinchat with two on the 10th, four on the 15th and the last on the 16th. The first Stonechats of the autumn were two on the 14th with a peak count of eight on the 28th during a major movement across London. The highest daily total of Wheatear, however, was just two on the 21st compared to three last year with singles seen until the 26th including at least one likely Greenland race bird. 

                            ................... as are Wheatears pic AMP

     Yellow Wagtails were few in number with single birds - almost all fly-overs - on the 1st,15th, 18th, 21st and 27th. The first Meadow Pipit of the autumn were two on the the 4th with passage birds seen either resting or passing over regularly in relatively smallish numbers until the end of the month. 

   It has been a good month for Siskins moving across London and the Wetlands - far from the best place to catch visible migration - did not entirely miss out.  The first record of the year were six seen by PL on the 13th, with three on the 15th, one on the 20th and six more on the 22nd and one on the 26th. On the 22nd, too, NK picked out two Lesser Redpoll - another finch seen migrating in good numbers elsewhere in London but which remains a very scarce visitor to the reservoirs.   

DB @porthkillier



















Sunday, 13 September 2020

Reservoir Logs - August round-up

    Both Spotted and Pied Flycatchers could be enjoyed together this month pics @sjnewton

   August was another excellent month with a good array of waders, raptors and passerines passing through the reservoirs although their visits were often frustratingly brief. Records included the first Wood Warbler since 2016 and the first Marsh Harrier since 2018 as well as Pied Flycatcher, Great Egret and Black Tern. Skylark, belatedly, and Common Redstart were also added to the annual list

   The month also saw the second and third Ospreys and Greenshanks of the year and the second Turnstone as well as tagged Mediterranean Gulls and Tufted Ducks which proved again how far some birds come to enjoy the safe haven the reservoirs provideThe seven new species take the 2020 year list to 130 - four more than this time last year.  

     A French-tagged Tufted Duck joined the large moult gathering pic @Chris_Farthing

    At least two young Shelduck liked the Wetlands so much that they stayed on No 3 right through the month despite the disappearance of their parents and siblings to the coast. The reservoirs remain a nationally-important site for Tufted Ducks to carry out their post-breeding moult. A count early in the month recorded 2,100 across the reservoirs, slightly down on last year's 2246 but above the 1900 of the year before. Among them on High Maynard on the 7th &10 was a bird fitted with a nasal saddle at Mayenne, 140 km WSW of Paris in June 2018. It is the third time that Tufted Ducks from the French ringing scheme have been recorded at the Wetlands in recent years. Teal, Shoveler and Gadwall all returned in small numbers with seven Shoveler back on East Warwick by the 30th.   

    This Black-tailed Godwit enjoyed the new East Warwick raft pic @EugeneDH_Bass

      The Wetlands continued to draw in waders with 11 species seen during the month, a far better performance than last year. A flock of eight Oystercatchers over west on the 23rd was the largest number that can be recalled with, more typically, one on the 3rd while a single Lapwing was seen on East Warwick on the 14th &15th.  A Whimbrel flew south on the 13th while another Black-tailed Godwit rested on the East Warwick raft on the 4th.  After the first Turnstone for three years last month, it was inevitable that the second would follow almost immediately with a single photographed by SN flying south over Lockwood on the 8th.   

    The second Turnstone of the year, like the first, sadly did not stop pic @sjnewton

      Dunlin were seen on the 3rd and 24th with the first Snipe of the autumn on the 17th. Common Sandpipers were present throughout the month with the maximum count of 19 on the 11th, slightly below last year's peak of 22. Single Green Sandpipers were recorded on the 7th, 25th and 28th. It was a good month for Redshank with individuals on the 3rd, 10th, 11th, 14th and two on the 27th. The 10th also saw the second Greenshank of the year which remained until early the next morning with another on the 17th.   

         An adult Dunlin spent a couple of hours resting at the reservoirs pic @ porthkillier

     Common Sandpipers lived up to their name with up to 19 seen daily pic @OwlTurbot 

            Two Greenshank were seen this month pics @Chris_Farthing 




                      Two Redshank on Lockwood pic @IvorHewstone

     It is not just ducks which travel a long way to the Wetlands. For the third year, a Black-headed Gull which breeds in Poland returned to Walthamstow. Even more remarkable, was the colour-ringed juvenile Mediterranean Gull found and photographed by RE on the 9th. It turned out to have been rung at its breeding colony in the eastern Czech Republic on June 17th, less than two months before being seen on Lockwood.  Common Terns, after successful breeding, gave some fantastic views with at least six still in residence on the 31st. The first - and perhaps only - Black Tern of the year was seen by PL flying north on the 30th.  

    Mediterranean Gull arrived from the Czech Republic pic @wheresrhys   

    As breeding numbers of Great Egrets increase in the UK, they are becoming more regular, if still rare, at the Wetlands. The bird picked up by LB going north over Lockwood on the 8th was the fifth successive year they have been seen while they were only recorded once in the previous five years. 

          Very much a record shot of one of two Ospreys this month pic @porthkillier .

              and a rather better photograph of a Sparrowhawk pic @OwlTurbot

   The second Osprey of the year used the reservoirs to gain height before crossing London on the 27th with another being seen by visiting birder GB two days later. Marsh Harrier is a much rarer bird at the Wetlands with the female-type picked up by PR on the 3rd the first since May 2018. It was later seen over Wanstead. Buzzards were seen on the 4th and 28th which was also the date of the only Red Kite.  Two adults Peregrines were semi-resident on the pylons while Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were also seen regularly. The same was true of Hobby which were recorded on at least 11 days in the month with two hunting on the 2nd. 

  Up to 70 Swifts were still feeding over the reservoirs up until the 20th with 20 on the 25th and single figures until the end of the month along with much larger numbers of Sand and, in particular, House Martins. Swallows, however, continue to be extremely and worryingly scarce this year with hardly any passage this autumn. A Skylark, the first of the year, was found on the 8th by CF on Lockwood.   

                  Whinchats performed well during the month pic @OwlTurbot

   The Wetlands are very much in the shadow of nearby Wanstead when it comes to attracting migrants in the autumn but August did see the reservoirs record all we might expect. The star bird was a Wood Warbler found by RE late on the 19th - the first since a singing Spring bird in 2016. A female-type Common Redstart on the 10th put in an equally brief appearance.  Whinchats were rather more obliging with records on the 9th, 24th and 28th with two on the 20th and three on the 27th. 

       Wheatears were few in number but always a delight to see pic @ OwlTurbot

   Wheatears were seen on 12 days after the 8th with a rather disappointing maximum of two on the 23rd, 25th, 26th and 28th.  It looked as if the Wetlands was going to miss out on the influx of Pied Flycatchers which seemed to have turned up in every green space in London this month until AMP saved blushes by finding one by the central pylon on the 20th. It was  joined by a second bird next day with one being seen irregularly until the 23rd.  

              Spotted Flycatcher is a regular if scarce visitor in August pic @sjnewton

   The first Spotted Flycatcher of the month was also found on the 20th with one being seen in the same trees as the two Pied Flycatchers on the 21st & 22nd, with another on the 30th.  Yellow Wagtails are also very scarce this autumn with the only records a single on the 28th and an excellent flock of around 12 seen going south by LB next day. 

   Willow Warblers numbers built up from mid-month but, unlike some years, daily counts did not reach into double figures. The last Sedge Warbler was recorded on the 28th although undoubtedly others were hiding as was almost certainly the case with Garden Warbler which were seen on at least two days. Common Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Reed Warblers, which all bred, were seen until the end of the month. 

DB @porthkillier

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Reservoir Logs - Summer round-up

 
                 Three of the four Cattle Egrets which rested on No 5 pic @sjnewton

   June and July are traditionally quiet months for birds at the reservoirs but not this year. The summer brought the second and third ever records of Cattle Egret for the reservoirs, a flying visit from the first Turnstone for three years and a late Osprey. Both wader and passerine migration seemed early with Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Whinchat and Spotted Flycatcher all added to the year list along with both Yellow-legged Gull and Coal Tit

   The nine additions takes the number of species seen so far in 2020 to 123. This is one above last year's total at the end of July which is remarkable considering the major restrictions of access throughout the Spring. Improved coverage -  partly down to post-lockdown enthusiasm as well as CF's heroics - helps explain the total but the strong showing of waders and early migrants may also reflect what appears to be a good breeding season.  

   Whether it was the lack of disturbance or the good weather, it has been a good year for breeding ducks. Five pair of Shelduck  hatched young with 21 young surviving the dangerous early days after their parents chose the safety of No 1 & 3 rather than East Warwick to bring up their families this year.  Pochard continue to benefit from the new reed beds with 18 broods compared to 10 last year and five in 2018. The same number of broods of Tufted Ducks, which are late breeders, have already been seen. Surveys suggest 20 pair of Coot and ten pair of Moorhen also raised young. Thanks to DW for breeding numbers. 

         Redshank and Common Sandpiper were two of 12 wader species seen pic Chris_Farthing
  
    It was also a  very good period for waders with 12 species recorded. The highlight was a Turnstone on July 23rd which CF watched fly round the East Warwick island before continuing on its way. After being annual since 2010 with no less than three individuals in 2017, the species was not seen at all at the reservoirs in the next two years. Lapwing were seen on four dates in June with the highest count of four on the 25th. Oystercatcher were also regular with two on June 15th and singles on the 20th as well as July 15th and 17th. A young Little Ringed Plover turned up on July 17th and stayed until the 23rd.

       A tame Little Ringed Plover enjoyed the causeway between No 4/5 pic @Chris_Farthing

    The first Curlews of the year were on June 27th - just two days later than last year's first record - with two individual birds going south. The good year for Whimbrel continued with singles over on July 13rd and 16th and one briefly resting on the East Warwick raft on the 14th. Black-tailed Godwit is usually one of the 'commoner' scarce waders. But this year the first record was not until July 4th with a single going south. It opened the gates with a flock of eight on the 19th and another resting on East Warwick late on the 29th.

         Black-tailed Godwits making up for their late appearance this year pic @Arsenal_Birder

Another tame wader was an adult Dunlin - one of two in July pic @IvorHewstone
                      
   Dunlin were seen on July 19th with a remarkably tame adult on July 23rd.  The first returning Common Sandpiper was seen on June 23rd, seven days earlier than last year but a day later than in 2018. Numbers built to a peak of 12 on June 30th and July 1st with smaller numbers throughout the rest of the month. June 23rd also saw the first Green Sandpiper of the 'autumn' with others on July 12th &  23rd. Normally Greenshank would be first seen in the Spring but in these abnormal times, it was only added to the year list when  NK found a flighty bird on July 1st. Redshank were recorded on five days with sightings on June 20th, 24th & 30th as well as July 15th and 19th.  

         Redshank were a regular sight at the reservoirs over the summer pic @sjnewton  

      The new vegetated raft on East Warwick provided attractive for birds with at least 10 pair of Black-headed Gulls raising 25+ young. It is by far the largest number to have nested in recent years. The safety in numbers that the Black-heads provided also encouraged eight pair of Common Terns to ignore the special rafts put out for them on West Warwick and join them the other side of the railway line. After the disaster of 2019's blank year, it is fantastic to have terns back nesting with the first young fledging in late June. There is also now plenty of room for numbers to expand to former levels. CF dug out a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull on Lockwood on July 13th and RE another on the 30th.   
.               
    May's star Spoonbills graced the reservoirs into June with at least one dropping into the roost on the 1st and two seen circling over East Warwick late on the 20th. But amazingly, the Wetlands was to host more rare herons with four adult Cattle Egrets found by PL on top of the trees on the small No 5 island on the 12th. They stayed a couple of hours before departing but presumably two of the same party were seen by TR flying out of the No 1 island on the morning of the 22nd. They also rested on No 5 before departing south-east. 

              Two smart adult Cattle Egrets made a return visit to No 5  pic @Chris_Farthing
   
   These are just the second and third records of Cattle Egret for the reservoirs following one seen flying south over High Maynard - again by PL - on April 15th 2008. An earlier sighting in 1995 was judged by the London Rarities Committee to have been an escape. With Spoonbill and Cattle Egret, along with Great Egret, now nesting in ever larger numbers in the UK, this Spring's appearances hopefully will become more regular. It was, after all, only in 1996 that Little Egret, now a familiar sight and breeder at the Wetlands, first nested anywhere in the UK. 

   It looked as if it would be a blank Spring for Osprey until DW found one going low north on June 1st. Buzzards were seen June 3rd & 14th and July 10th & 30th with Red Kites on June 13th and July 11th & 15th.  Two Peregrines could often be seen on the pylons but there are doubts whether the local pair bred successfully this year. Hobby may, however, have nested not too far away with birds being seen on at least eight days in June and four in July with two hunting on the 26th. 

   It is not hard to see why Hobby were making regular hunting forays over the reservoirs with flocks of both Sand and House Martins and, often, huge numbers of Swifts. Well over 1,000 Swifts were counted on June 5th & 29th with an estimated 400 still feeding over the Wetlands on July 29th. The first returning Swallows of the autumn were two hurrying south on July 10. 

   It has been the best year for Cuckoo records for a long time with another - or perhaps the same bird - seen on June 17th. As has been mentioned before, the rarity of Coal Tit at the reservoirs is genuinely perplexing given that they are regular in Springfield Park and in gardens just a few hundred yards away. But the first and only definite record for the site this year was one CF heard from Lockwood on June 8th.   

        The first Spotted Flycatcher was a good fortnight earlier than usual pic @porthkillier

   As with ducks, small birds seem to have had a good breeding season. Both Green and two pairs of Great Spotted Woodpecker bred successfully. Family parties of Lesser Whitethroat and Sedge Warblers along with plenty of Blackcaps, Reed Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Common Whitethroats could be seen. Eight pair of Reed Buntings also nested across the reservoirs.

   A successful nesting season overall may explain why the Wetlands saw very early migrants with a juvenile Wheatear on July 17th, the first Whinchat of the year on the 18th and the first Spotted Flycatcher, which is not usually seen until mid-August, on the 22nd. More expected were Willow Warblers with the first passing through on July 16th and up to five being recorded daily by the end of the July. 

DB @ porthkillier. with thanks to @whiteleggdan for breeding records
  
 






Tuesday, 9 June 2020

May 2020 round-up

                  A pair of Spoonbills graced the Wetlands in May pic @Chris_Farthing

   May's undoubted highlight was the appearance of a pair of spectacular Spoonbills. One or more of the pair were seen on at least four days with, even more excitingly, mating witnessed when the pair visited the heronies on  No 1 & No 3. Along with explosion in breeding numbers in the UK in recent years, their behaviour raises hopes the Wetlands might be seeing more of them in future years.

      May also saw regular appearances from a species whose population is very much going in the opposite direction with a Cuckoo also seen and heard on four days. More expected additions to the annual list were Garden Warbler and Common Redshank which takes the number of species seen so far in this extraordinary year to 113. This is only three below 2019's total which, given the continuing restrictions to access, shows the Wetlands is still pulling in the birds.

   Shelduck are one of the earliest breeding ducks and three broods were seen on the 30th. Their biggest challenge now will be to escape the attention of the gulls looking to feed their own growing families. Two Shoveler,  perhaps failed breeders, were seen on the 29th with four next day.

 The first Redshank for the year was almost two months later than in 2019 pic @SalterPete

   The lack of early access as well as the fine weather helps explain why it was another poor month for waders. But the 6th saw the first Redshank of the year arrive for a two-day stay, nearly two months after the first record in 2019. Oystercatchers were seen on the 4th, 6th and 30th with a pair  on the 26th.

    Little Ringed Plovers seemed much scarcer than usual with just one on the 19th. In contrast, the exceptional run of Whimbrel records continued when, on one of the rare gloomy days, RE had seven heading north. Up to three Common Sandpipers were seen daily during May with the last recorded on the 25th - eight days later than the final bird last year.

    Two adult Mediterranean Gull went north noisily, with a brief stop on East Warwick, on the 9th. After last year's depressing blank, it is great to see Common Terns back nesting at the Wetlands.  Four pairs have taken up residence on the floating platform on East Warwick, ignoring the chain of special tern rafts built for them on West Warwick. Hopefully, they will expand across the Wetlands in the future. Three Arctic Terns were seen on the 2nd when rain disrupted their journey north with one next day. 

            The first sighting of a remarkable run of Spoonbill records pic @chris_farthing

   When CF spotted two Spoonbills circling over the Wetlands on the 18th before moving off, it seemed like the birds were only making a flying visit from Rainham where they had been resident for several days. But to the joy of patch birders, he re-found the pair on the 21st among the herons and egrets on No 2 island. This time they spent the day here and on No 1 with a quick feed and brush up on East Warwick.

   Even more remarkably, CF found the adult on East Warwick island on the 25th giving weight to the idea that the well-travelled pair, which have also been seen in Kent and Surrey, may have roosted on the reservoirs in the intervening period. The final sighting this month was the immature again circling East Warwick on the 31st.

          Adult Spoonbill showing off its plumes on East Warwick pic @Chris_Farthing

   The last records of  Spoonbill were three high over West Warwick in September 2016 with a fly-through single three years before. The last bird to land was one which spent much of the day on East Warwick island in June 2006. Although this month's pair were an adult and immature which made successful breeding unlikely, their behaviour has raised hopes that Spoonbills may soon follow in the footsteps of Little Egrets and colonise the reservoirs.

                                   ……...And showing off its bill pic @OwlTurbot

  One species which may already be nesting nearby after an absence of several years is Hobby. Birds were seen hunting on the 2nd, 7th and 13th with two on the 10th with further records in early June. This compares to just one sighting in May last year.  Two Buzzards were seen on the 2nd, with singles on 10th, 16th and 17th. while Red Kites were recorded on the 10th and 17th.

   It has been a good number of years since the reservoirs have echoed regularly to the sound of Cuckoo so this month's records has been very welcome. The first sighting was on the 7th,with birds seen or heard on the 9th, 10th, 21st and 30th with other records from Walthamstow Marsh. Garden Warbler made it onto the Wetland's list when what was thought to be the bird holding territory at  north end of the marsh kindly made a visit on the 12th. Single Wheatears were seen on the 1st, 3rd and 5th.

      Six pair of Common Whitethroats are holding territory across the Wetlands pic @sjnewton

  Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers are believed to have bred on the Wetlands while Sedge Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats, along with Whitethroats, Blackcap, Reed Warbler and Chiffchaff, continued to sing throughout the month. DW's survey work also suggests the reservoirs hold 10 Cetti's Warbler and seven Reed Bunting territories as well as two pair of Goldcrests. The nest boxes are hosting 11 pairs of Blue and 13 pairs of Great Tits which have also set up home in the Swift tower until the Swifts make use of it next year ….hopefully.

DB @porthkillier