Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Bosphorus Schmosphorus

Backtracking a bit to Sunday, I happened to bump into Pete L coming off the South section of the res’s, where I was headed, he had not seen much but was popping back up to the Lockwood for another look so I joined him as I fancied some Waders. I always fancy Waders but am rarely satiated.

Of Waders there were none but we did have a Rock Pipit, probably one of yesterday’s birds but equally possibly a new bird as Pete had thought one had flown over earlier going North. we also had some more Meadow Pipits, quite a Spring passage of these this year, and a half dozen Sand Martins.

Whilst chatting he told me that he had recently been shown photos of the ‘Black-tailed’ Godwit reported from the early part of the year on the Lockwood – it was clearly a Bar-tailed Godwit. Nice to add that to the patch yearlist but a bit gripping for me as this is still a black hole on my Walthamstow list. The site year list moves on….98.

Moving forward to today; I had been out all morning, incidentally hearing Jackdaws in a couple of places in Lower Walthamstow and Lower Leyton, seemingly upgrading their toehold to now officially a foothold. When I got home I took a look out of the back window, thinking what a splendid day for Raptors it was.

Virtually the first bird I clapped bins on, at about 12:45, was a distant Buzzard, well it started out as a distant Raptor sp, but circled closer and became a Buzzard. I felt rather smug, though to be honest Buzzard in fine weather at the end of March is not the bird it once was. Neither was this the bird it once was, as it soon became 3 Buzzards. Two more came steaming in from the East and started to grapple with it. If only I had paid more attention to the ‘British Birds’ article of a year or two back I could tell you what the interaction meant, suffice it to say it was a territorial dispute, which is interesting because I didn’t know I lived in a Buzzards territory, they probably don’t know they live in mine.

As I watched the agro, yet another bird came in from the West, at first it appeared significantly smaller than the other Buzzards but my Father Ted lesson kicked in and I realized that ‘small=far away,’ as it got into the now crowded thermal with the other 3 I realized it was a large Raptor, although it was the smallest of the 4. Given that there has been Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Red Kite and Goshawk seen in London in the last few days it could have been something different but I will stick with 4 Buzzards.

It was then that I picked up a fifth bird going South, this one looked much more rakish and I felt sure it was going to be a Red Kite, unfortunately it did not flap once, just glided steadily South on half closed wings right over the house, I rushed to the front of the house confident that better views would clinch it but was unable to pick it up again. Even if it was another Buzzard that would make it a record ‘flock’ for the house list. Surely this puts Walthamstow onto the same footing as other Raptor migrant hotspots such as Eilat, Hawk Mountain, The Bosphorus, Stoke Newington etc.

On the reservoirs I had the first brood of young goslings; somewhat surprisingly they were Egyptian, and not the more likely Canadian or Greylag. A couple of displaying Kestrels and Sparrowhawks added to the Raptor-fest and there were a couple of Sand Martins prospecting a nest site. New this year too were Small Tortoiseshells and a Small White.


On this date: 23 03 89 3 male Wheatears on East Warwick and 15 Sand Martins over West Warwick, my earliest at the time. 23 03 07 A male Peregrine flew low past the house this afternoon, inducing panic in all the local birds.

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