Monday, 13 December 2010

Mid-winter magic

Another couple of good days on the patch, starting with yesterday (Sunday 12th) when I met up with Lea Valley birder/dragonfly expert/all-round-good-bloke Roy Woodward, who was leading a walk around the reses on behalf of the East London Birders Forum (ELBF).
A nice sunny mid winter's morning (there has been a thaw of late after the first 'big freeze' of the winter...up to a balmy 6*C today), and a decent turnout of 10 or so people - the last time I saw so many birders here at one time was when a certain rare warbler turned up last February.
On the West bank of the East Warwick had a call from Hackney birder Jamie Partridge letting me know that he'd just been watching a Bittern ice-skating over at the nearby Waterworks NR, and that it'd just taken off & was circling overhead. Roy & I pointed our scopes in that direction (due South), and lo & behold we picked the bird up! It circled once before coming down again, and sure enough, another call to Jamie confirmed that the bird had indeed dropped back down in the same area...result! In fairness I doubt neither Roy or myself would have IDd the bird as a Bittern from such distant views had we not had the heads up (thanks Jamie)...still, only my 2nd Bittern on the patch, and both this year.
Noteworthy birds on the West Warwick were Water Rail (seen briefly in flight), a female Stonechat (my first of 2010) and a rather early, and optimistic, singing Mistle Thrush.
A drake Pintail had been found earlier by Pete Lambert on the #1 res, and sure enough was still there when we got to the other side of E Warwick, happily napping under an overhanging tree on the island (this was another long overdue patch first for me!). Also of interest on the island here was a Ring-necked Parakeet seen by Roy & the others to go into a tree hole...potential breeders next year I would imagine. Also of note here were a drake Goldeneye & f Goosander. (Paul W later raced over to 'twitch' the Pintail for his year list & provided the record shot above).

Not content with this enjoyable 4 hours, decided to have a look on spec at the Banbury where I was immediately rewarded with a fine female Red-breasted Merganser sitting on the bank in the SW corner of the res - another 1st for the year and only my 2nd for the patch.
Just North of the patch at the London Waste incinerator plant in Edmonton, I capped an excellent day by observing (for the first time since the summer) BOTH Peregrines on the chimney top there. Although I missed the actual hunt, I soon after saw one of the birds bring prey back to the chimney (a very pale bird, possibly a Gull). Fingers crossed that they choose to nest up there come the spring, which would mean we get to see a lot more of these magnificent birds.

Today (13th) popped over to the S end of Lockwood, then East Warwick a half hour before dark on another still, clear evening to try to relocate a juvenile Shag which Pete had found there yesterday at dusk. On the Lockwood were 2 f Goldeneye, 12 Lapwings over and a solitary Common Snipe. At the E Warwick my luck was in when I almost immediately found the Shag sitting quietly on the tern raft (showing it's distinctive peaked forehead, slender bill & white chin), before slipping into the water to feed around the island. A pretty scarce species in the London area this, and another patch first for me so thanks once again to Pete for his sharp eyes on this one (also thanks to Dominic Mitchell & Dave Callahan for this photo of the juv Shag on the East Warwick tern raft).

**PLS NOTE: Little Stint has been taken off the cumulative year list as we've learned recently that this is highly likely to have been an erroneous report.

Lol Bodini

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