On Friday, en route to Rainham, I got a text from Pete telling me he had seen a Red-breasted Merganser on the High Maynard but it had flown South, this is rapidly becoming a nemesis bird at Walthamstow for me. There was one (the same?) last winter which gave me the run around and then the slip. Later he texted me about a Scaup on the West Warwick but by now I was glowing in post Slaty-backed Gull mode so was fairly chilled, but mentally filed the information for the weekend. Later still Lol texted to say he had seen the ‘Merg’ on No.5 but it had flown West, has this bird no mercy?
Today was my chance...a quick look from Coppermill Lane was sufficient to let me know that the ‘Merg’ was not on No.5, however Egyptian Goose and Barnacle Goose were both patch year ticks. Shelduck are starting to build up with about a dozen on the big island there, also about 60 Gadwall was good.
Afterwards I tried my luck on the West Warwick and bumped into Dan who was looking for the Scaup, unfortunately he didn’t have time to walk the whole reservoir, if he had he would have seen it, in fact them, as there were two. Both immature females, one with more white on the face than the other, no doubt the same that Pete had on 12 12 10 and I on 17 12 10, let me treat you to a dodgy picture.
Also there was a drake Wigeon, but not a whole lot else. Lol got me to try my Water Rail charming trick in a few spots and also on the East Warwick but to no avail. Later we met Valerie who was intent on staking out Kingfisher in the No.3 hide, I hope she got one, we saw one whizz by at the top of No.1.
There were no Mergansers on No.5 but as we walked past No.4 a pink-breasted drake Goosander flew in from the North and landed on No.5. I waited for it to be followed by the ‘Merg’. If it hadn’t been starting to get dark I would probably still be waiting.
As we rounded No.4 there was an impressive display of Catkins on the Willows and many Grey Herons standing on nests, has the Winter finished I wonder?
For the finale of the afternoon I tried the Water Rail trick again, this time by the Northern bridge over the No.1 channel. Though a no show, it did at least return the call, which is more than I can say for a certain Sawbill!
On this date:
16 01 83 Walthamstow 13:00-14:00 Wind NW2 mild, sunny patches; One Short-eared Owl being mobbed by a dozen Black-headed Gulls. One Grey Wagtail on sluice.
16 01 10 No sign, in a fairly thorough search, of the Bittern on Walthamstow reservoirs. Many Fieldfare and Redwing, possibly a few Redpoll but not seen well enough to clinch. A handful of Goldeneye and at least 400 Tufted Duck as well as smaller numbers of Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls on the ice of West Warwick, much of the site still frozen. A Woodcock at dusk, flying from No.2 towards No.1.