Friday, 25 March 2011

Of the People, by the People, for the People

An early (very!) morning trip to the Woodpecker capital of East London saw me safely bag Lesser Spotted Woodpecker for the year and toy with the idea of bringing a large Butterfly net next time. It would sit so nicely on my patch list, there is a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker shaped gap right between Great Spotted Woodpecker and Great Grey Shrike that needs filling.

Whilst there I was telling my native guide how I would later go and add a proper Red Kite milvus milvus, to the Walthamstow patch year list and that the blog title would be as above. As regular reader(s) will know up till now we have only had a briefly counted Red Kite milvus vicarious. But now we have one seen on the patch by a local patch worker for the local patch year list.

I decided that the place to see this creature would be the Waterworks N.R. Mike M had a similar idea but his quarry was Buzzard. I assured him that conditions were perfect and Buzzard would surely be guaranteed (not a guarantee) today, in fact 12:45 would be the E.T.A. whilst we waited he filled me in on lots of interesting news, of which more later.

At around 11:45 I spotted a high flying Raptor which turned out to be a Red Kite, it ploughed on Northwards. I thought I would phone Jono L with news of this small victory for democracy, I knew he would be home as he had told me that the Short-toed Treecreeper at Landguard held no fascination for him, there were lots of other birds he would rather see, he’s not going all that way for a boring brown bird etc. etc. I got through and told him the news but it was a tad difficult to hear his congratulations due to the call of Gulls, the sound of the sea breaking on the shingle and the ships horns blaring in the background. I guess Wanstead is a fair bit closer to the North Sea than here at Walthamstow!


It got to 13:15, and it seemed that Mike’s Buzzard was running late, so we decided to go and check out the Lea, as we did I spotted a Buzzard going North, what did I tell you? Guaranteed. We also had 4 Sand Martins and a number of singing Chiffchaffs, the singing and numbers involved in the last week or two suggest these are proper migrants rather than just the few wintering birds.

The reason for checking the Lea was that there is, apparently, a Mandarin living there. Mike has seen it quite a few times near the White House bridge, sadly on the Hackney Lea, but someone recently told him that they had seen it much closer, possibly even on our patch! This bird, a drake, has been around for nearly six months and is presumably the bird seen near Lea Bridge Rd at the end of last year. It is often with Mallard and sounds like it ranges North onto the patch occasionally, not on this occasion though. Until it is confirmed as being on the patch it won't be going on the patch yearlist. We are not desperate you know, well not now....

Other old news is that Mike had a pair of Stonechats on the marsh, in the bomb crater field, in February. This makes them 99 for the year and therefore Red Kite is 100. I thought it would be a tight thing getting to 100 before the end of March but we have done it with 6 days to go. (I’m on 87 for what it’s worth)

Even older news concerns a new species (I think) for the site. Last year I bumped into Mike and we checked out the little wooded glade by the boardwalk in the Waterworks, as we chatted, I think it was Mike that spotted an odd Butterfly and we discussed what it was, both believing we had just seen a Fritillary. I said that the most likely, and in fact what it looked like, was Silver –washed Fritillary, there seems to be a slight range extension going on with these and there had been some reported from London sites at the time. Unfortunately it vanished after a few seconds but shortly we had it coming back into the glade only when we saw it well it was a Comma! We reluctantly convinced ourselves that we must have been mistaken originally. Well, it turns out that a Butterfly bod saw three or four Silver-washed Fritillaries well, just a couple of hundred metres away, on the Middlesex F.B. the same day, so probably not mistaken after all.

Staying with Lepidoptera, Peacock, Green-veined White and Brimstone were all new for the year.


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