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


Wednesday, 6 May 2020

April 2020 round-up

Unprecedented numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits were seen this month pic @jarpartridge 

  While the Wetlands - unlike many reserves - remained open throughout April, the restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 continued to limit access. But those who lived near enough kept plugging away and managed to record all the summer breeders and most of the expected passage migrants. In all, 16 species were added to the year list - Brambling, Swallow, Willow Warbler, Sandwich Tern, House Martin, Sedge Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, Reed Warbler, Swift, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Tern, Whimbrel, Arctic Tern, Dunlin and Hobby.

   The discovery, however, of Common Redstart, Cuckoo and Whinchat a couple of hundred metres away - and the fact that 24 species - eight more - were added to the year list last April - was a sign that some species must have slipped past unnoticed before the site was open or in areas where access is not permitted. This might explain why the 109 total at the end of April is four down on last year and 17 below 2018's record 126.  

  Another factor may have been the largely settled weather which, while encouraging some species to return to the Wetlands earlier than normal, enabled passage birds to keep flying north without stopping. There seem to be far fewer Willow Warblers, for example, in London than usual. But among the highlights of the birds which were recorded were, incredibly, three more Bearded Tits and unprecedented numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits and Whimbrel.  

    Shoveler numbers, perhaps helped by less disturbance, were higher than in recent years with 13 counted on the 22nd. Wigeon records book-ended the month with a single bird on the 1st and two on the 30th. The last Goldeneye was seen on the 5th - 11 days earlier than the final sighting of last  Spring although a late bird might have been hiding on West Warwick, one of their favourite reservoirs. It looks as if as many as five pairs of Shelduck might be breeding but the gulls, as usual, will take a big toll on their young.    

                            Buzzards were seen regularly over the Wetlands pic @sjnewton

   Red Kites were recorded on at least six days with two on the 12th, 19th and 27th but more were seen just off site. This was also the same for Buzzards with around 15 seen from the reservoirs alone. A probable Marsh Harrier moved through low over No 1 late on the 12th. The first Hobby was seen by LB hunting down the overflow channel on the 29th. It has been several years since Hobby bred close enough to the reservoirs to hunt over them during the summer so the fact it was seen next day too is hopeful.  

    Up to four Little Ringed Plover were seen throughout the month  pic @Chris_Farthing

     2020 had been a surprisingly poor year for waders but April helped fill some embarrassing gaps on the annual list. Up to four Oystercatchers and Little Ringed Plovers were seen in the month which might suggest that they are breeding nearby. LB, who has the advantage of over-looking Lockwood from his house, had 12 Whimbrel flying north on the 28th in murky conditions and two more going the opposite way next day. 

          A Bar-tailed Godwit on the ground is highly unusual - three un-precedented pic AMP 

   The rain of the 28th also saw seven Bar-tailed Godwits recorded. They were part of a remarkable passage this Spring birds with 18 on or over the reservoirs for a species which is normally just about annual. Seven more including another on the East Warwick island were seen on 20th, with two on the 13th and one which spent the day on No 4 on the 29th.

   The 29th also saw, belatedly,  the first Dunlin of the year feeding on East Warwick. Single Green Sandpipers were seen on the 14th and 16th while a Common Sandpiper on the 17th may have been the first returning migrant - two days later than in 2019. Greenshank and, amazingly, Redshank have still to be seen this year as well as Black-tailed Godwit, usually the commonest of the pair.

 After a major decline over recent decades in the Grey Heron colony at the Wetlands, numbers seen to be stabilising with between 42 and 45 nests counted. They were joined by at least 20 pairs of Little Egrets but survey restrictions mean the final total is certain to have been closer to last year's 37 nests. 

  The good run of Little Gulls continued with an adult on Lockwood on the 19th. Arctic Terns are another species whose migration can be disrupted by bad weather with ten waiting for the heavy rain to pass on the 28th - a day earlier than their first appearance last year. They formed a mixed flock with Common Terns which were first seen on the 18th, ten days later than the first sighting in 2019.
But the good news is that several pairs were still feeding on the reservoirs at the end of the month which must raise hopes that they will make use of the new rafts.  Four Sandwich Terns flew through on the 6th, two days later than three did the same last year.  

       One of ten superb Arctic Terns waiting out the downpour on the 28th pic @jarpartridge  

   It has continued to be a good Spring for Rooks with two seen on the 3rd and singles on the 7th and 14th. After the excitement of wintering Bearded Tits which seemed to have finally departed in mid-March, one was again heard on the 9th. But when DW tracked it down next day, he found it was not only an un-rung so a new bird but was also with two other males. At least one stayed until the 10th.

      One of the three male Bearded Tits which dropped into the Wetlands pic @SalterPete

    Swifts were one species which definitely arrived back ahead of schedule. The first sighting was on the 13th, 12 days earlier than last year and ten days ahead of 2018. By the 22nd, more than 100 were feeding over the reservoirs, at least a week before the large arrivals last year.  The first Swallow was seen on the 4th, two days behind last year with the first House Martin on the 6th, four days later than in 2019. The rain at the end of the month saw good numbers of both and Sand Martins feeding over the reservoirs..

   Warblers in general seemed to be earlier than recent years. The first Sedge Warbler on the 8th was a day ahead of 2019 and six days before 2018's first bird. Even better news was that for a species now reduced to just a couple of pairs, no less than six were singing on the 11th. Reed Warblers,  too, arrived slightly ahead of schedule with the first on the 12th, two days earlier than both the previous two years.  

    Willow Warblers were slightly delayed with the first on the 5th. But this might be down to the fact that early visits to check for singing migrants were not possible this year. The first Lesser Whitethroat on the 14th and Common Whitethroat the day before were also just earlier than the previous two years. 

   Yellow Wagtails can make a claim for being the most regular migrant with the first arriving on the 8th, just a day later than in both 2019 and 2018. Wheatears were seen on at least seven days with a maximum of four on the 18th. The Wetlands now seems a regular Spring stop-off site for Brambling. Despite the limited access, a female was seen at the bottom of No 3 on the first two days of the month. 

DB @porthkillier

Sunday, 5 April 2020

March 2020 round-up

      A stunning Black-necked Grebe brightened up a very gloomy month pic @OwlTurbot 

   March is traditionally one of the best months for birding at the Wetlands but this year it will be remembered most, as it will be at all sites and for all activities, for the creeping shadow of coronavirus. The epidemic saw increasing restrictions over hours and access from the middle of the month which resulted in a sharp drop of coverage. By the end,  birding was only allowed as part of a daily exercise for those fortunate enough to live within walking or cycling distance.

  But given this background and the certainty that some good birds must have been missed, March lived up to its reputation with 11 new species seen including a stunning Black-necked Grebe, the first Common Scoter for 15 months and the rare sight of a Bar-tailed Godwit on the ground if only briefly. Avocet, Woodcock and the expected Little Ringed Plover also made up for a bad year so far for waders. Rook, Red Kite, Little Gull as well as Sand Martins and Wheatear were added as well to the year list. This now stands at 93 for the reservoirs - four more than this time in 2019 but well down on the 107 in both the previous two years.

             The first Scoter since 2018 spent the day on East Warwick pic @Chris_Farthing

   Shoveler numbers remained very low with a maximum count of six on the 28th while the pair of Wigeon continued up until 26th at least with a flock of 18 arriving on No 4 on the 28th and nine still in residence on the 30th. Sound recording at night has now shown that thousands of Common Scoter migrate overland and the male found by CF on East Warwick on the 26th presumably just fancied a rest. This was the first record since November 2018 for a species which is usually an annual visitor. As many as 10 Goldeneye, becoming increasingly frisky as the month went on, were counted with at least four still here on the 30th while the last record of Goosanders were two on the 22nd.

     Goldeneye showed plenty of signs of pairing up and gender inequality pic @porthkillier

   A Black-necked Grebe in full spectacular summer plumage was found by PA on East Warwick, very much the reservoir of the month, on the 23rd. It stayed all day and follows on the pair found in April last year so perhaps this might become a more regular occurrence. Little Egrets became more obvious as the month went on as they moved back to their nesting islands.

                    At least 19 Buzzards were seen this month pic @Chris_Farthing

  March is always a good month for birds of prey and, as predicted, the first Red Kite was seen on the 10th with three on the 13th, one on 16th, two on the 17th and another on the 23rd. Common Buzzards were recorded on ten days with five on the 23rd the highest count. Sparrowhawks and Peregrines continued to be seen regularly throughout the month.

             An Oystercatcher stayed for ten days this month pic @EugeneDH_Bass ........

.................and tried hard to blend in with the local population pic @rudraksh9

   After a poor winter for waders, March was much better with the new East Warwick island finally beginning to draw in some birds. That was not the case with the Oystercatcher which arrived on the 3rd and stayed for 10 days pretty well everywhere but East Warwick until right at the end of its visit.  But LB found an Avocet in front of the hide and then on the island on the 14th and then, more surprisingly, a Bar-tailed Godwit moving into summer-plumage on the 22nd. Both sadly stayed only long enough to be photographed but Avocet at least is now becoming a regular visitor with three records last year. In contrast, Bar-tails remain very scarce at the reservoirs and even rarer on the ground with Black-tailed, yet to be recorded, usually much more common.

     Avocet was the first wader to discover the 'new' East Warwick island pic@LolBodini ....

    ..................quickly followed by a Bar-tailed Godwit pic @LolBodini…….

  A Lapwing, surprisingly scarce this year, also found the island on the 25th. Woodcock are usually annual at the reservoirs but 2019 was a rare blank year so the bird seen by PA on the 20th was very welcome.  The first Little Ringed Plover was found on the 19th -a day later than last year - with two seen on the 21st. The wintering Common Sandpiper remained until at least mid-month but Green Sandpipers continued to be scarce as did Common Snipe with only a couple of records of each.

   Despite a few false alarms, Yellow-legged Gull has yet to be seen this year on the reservoirs but Little Gull has made it on the list. Last year's unprecedented flock in April seemed a one-off but perhaps they are more regular than we thought with CF having over 20 going north high on the 24th and a single seen again flying high next day.

        Rooks are almost as rare as Osprey but March is best hope pic @Chris_Farthing

  A Short-eared Owl was seen agonisingly close to the Wetlands on the 17th circling over Tottenham Marsh (as were two Cattle Egrets on the 16th at Stonebridge Lock) but just too far to make it on the list. As hoped-for in the last round-up, CF had a fly-over Rook on the 6th - two days later than the only record last March - with further birds seen on the 13th. Jackdaws, amazingly scarce at the reservoirs except during passage, were seen on at least three days.

            The male Bearded Tit was a great start to the ringing demo pic @PaulHawky

   The winter's three star birds made it into March with the pair of Bearded Tits staying until the 8th - and possibly later - with the male being caught at the start of the ringing display on the 1st.  The first Sand Martin was found on the 18th - nine days later than last year - with a small passage next day. Cetti's Warblers became both more vocal and easier to see with birds right across the site.

      The usually secretive Cetti's Warbler became much easier to see pic @wheeler_jo

    Chiffchaffs remained in good numbers wirh a noticeable increase on the 9th as migrants passed through. The first Blackcap was seen on an early date for the Wetlands of the 3rd with singing birds - again early - from the 11th.

           New arrivals added to the wintering Chiffchaffs this month pic @HarringayBirder 

   Firecrests which was also regularly heard singing - at least by those young enough to hear them at all - remained until mid-month with two seen on the 16th.  The male Black Redstart hung on as well until the 1st before disappearing again until the 14th when it was seen regularly until the 19th. There was a very large influx of Stonechats across London early in the month with six seen at the reservoirs on the 2nd.

                One of three male Wheatears to arrive on the 16th pic @porthkillier

  No common bird gives more joy to birders than the first Wheatears of the Spring. This year three kindly arrived on the 16th - two days earlier than last year and the same date as 2018 - just hours before tighter travel restrictions were brought into place so they could be widely enjoyed. They were the first of a trickle until the month's end. Only the odd Redwing was recorded during the month but a flock of Fieldfare remained with 20 still here on the 29th.

             One of the few Redwing seen this month fed next to the cafĂ© pic @sjnewton

DB @porthkillier



Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Reservoir Logs - February round-up

  Still conditions were as rare as the stunning male Bearded Tit pic Rudraksha Chodankar  

   Strong winds and heavy rain not only made birding unpleasant and difficult throughout much of February but also led to the Wetlands unusually being closed for several days because of the danger posed by falling trees. The risk was not overdone with three large trees coming down during the month. But despite the storms - and the usual February lull unless there is a cold spell - the month offered good birding with January's Bearded Tits, Firecrests and Black Redstart remaining and six new species added to the year list

   Snipe, Wigeon, Oystercatcher, Jackdaw and Buzzard were expected additions in the Winter/early Spring period  but the adult Mediterranean Gull found on the 18th has become a scarce bird at the reservoirs. It takes the total number of species seen at the Wetlands by the end of February to 81 - five more than last year but nine behind 2018.

     This pair of Wigeon were welcome refugees from Springfield Park pic @ Chris_Farthing

   The first Wigeon of the year were found on the 10th and seen on-and-off for the rest of the month. They are thought to be the pair which had been wintering in nearby Springfield Park before being disturbed by renovation work. Up to nine Goldeneye were recorded on several days with as many as three Goosander including two drakes making occasional visits to Lockwood, No 4 & No 5. Counts for Teal and particularly Shoveler are down on last year with hardly a Shoveler seen although, despite appearances, the surveys show Tufted Duck and Pochard numbers are pretty constant.

  It continues to be a poor winter for waders. By the end of last February, both Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit had made their first appearance but the best wader record this month was an Oystercatcher on the 20th. Two Snipe were seen on the 3rd with another on the 10th to close a surprising gap in the year list. Presumably the wet winter means there is abundant feeding elsewhere. The wintering Common Sandpiper was seen throughout the month and was joined by a second bird on the 12th but the high level of the flood relief channel meant the only record of Green Sandpiper was on No 4 on the 13th.

     The Mediterranean Gull resting after its long journey from Edmonton @ Chris_Farthing
   Despite an explosion in UK breeding numbers in recent years, Mediterranean Gulls seem if anything to be scarcer at the reservoirs. The smart adult found by CF on Lockwood on the 18th is the first record since last July. From its rings, it was identified as the wintering individual from Pymmes Park in exotic Edmonton. Late winter and early Spring are among the best times for passage raptors and scarcer crows over the Wetlands so the Common Buzzard on the 27th and two Jackdaws on the 19th - five days later than the first last year - were pretty much on schedule. Red Kite, Osprey and, if  really lucky, Rook should follow in the next few weeks.

CF was rewarded for putting grit down to attract the Bearded Tits when this male appeared 

   Up to 30 Fieldfare continued to be seen around the reservoirs with the odd Redwing while two Stonechats were also near-resident. Given that not much new arrived, it was fortunate that the 'stars' from January remained throughout February although the gale-force winds often made seeing them even more difficult. In particular, the pair of Bearded Tits continued to be elusive and remarkably silent with days going by without any sighting at all.

       At least one Firecrest remained until the end of the month pic Rudraksha Chodankar  

   The Firecrests were a little more reliable with two seen together on the 7th and at least one seen - and occasionally heard singing - throughout the month. The male Black Redstart was also elusive and seemed to have departed altogether around the middle of the month only to re-appear from the the 25th at its favourite southern end of Lockwood when it, too, was heard to sing.

    The Black Redstart adding yet another dash of colour at the Wetlands  pic OwlTurbot 

DB @porthkillier