As I arrived at the Lockwood this morning, I bumped into our newest recruit to the Walthamstow patch, the silver-tongued Kevin M. He has recently moved to the right side of the River and is now busy attempting to find some London ticks by getting up at the crack of dawn and ‘grinding and slogging’ away at the patch. I hope for his sake that he finds some, and for my sake that they stick.
He informed me that the Lockwood held 2 Wheatears and a Teal; I decided to walk around the whole thing just in case....for some reason I walked clockwise which is not usually my wont. To be honest I hardly looked at the reservoir all the way up as my attention was drawn to the Lea-side bushes which were heaving with Warblers and Tits, mostly Chiffchaffs but also including Lesser Whitethroat and Blackcap. Kingfishers were again prominent. I later bumped into George who confirmed what I had been pondering; Kingfishers can be triple-brooded.
I never did see the lone Teal but there were a couple of Shoveler at the North end. A water bailiff was walking along the bank towards me and I was just rehearsing the response to his inevitable question, ‘have you seen anything?’ with ‘no it’s total rubbish, I don’t know why I bother’ when I suddenly heard a Yellow Wagtail call, spinning round I caught sight of it flying South over my head, then I caught sight of its 6 mates, nice. I also caught up with the 2 Wheatears on the East bank and around 30 Pied Wagtails; I really expected them to be harbouring some Yellow Wags too but no joy. Waders were represented by 7 Common Sandpipers. To quote Kevin ‘I’m $*#*& fed up with @+*^$ Common Sands, can’t we @?^%~ have some %$*~? different &@?#* Waders?’ I agreed with his sentiment if nothing else!
As I got to the bottom of the Lockwood Kevin was returning from a fairly fruitless jog around the Southern complex. We both agreed that conditions looked good for big Birds in general and Raptors specifically. Between 10:00-14:00 is usually (but not exclusively) the best time for Raptors on the patch and I said 11:40 was a good time, thinking back to last week’s Buzzard.
11:40 came and went; we scanned the skies, 12:40 passed just as quickly, we scanned on. Kevin sat down, I thought about leaving. For some strange reason I looked directly up and lo! A Buzzard....in fact two...three, I was just about to lift my bins when I realised that there were more Birds in the kettle, I counted them quickly before checking what they all were....Ten!
They were all Common Buzzards, but I mean...Ten!
How they got directly over us without us picking them up coming in I don’t know. One or two split off and went South-west, into the light breeze but probably came back as shortly after all 10 were thermalling around over our heads. I quickly phoned slugabed Lol who amazingly was not only awake but in his back garden, he looked up and got on at least 6 without his bins. Probably about 25 minutes later I spotted another Buzzard, one in extreme tail and wing moult and not one of the original 10, it was soon joined by another 3 which we assumed were also new Birds, 15 minutes later Kevin picked up a singleton. The previous largest flock over the patch was 5 over my house in March this year, as with those some of these were seen talon grappling, leading me to think they are relatively local, and somewhat territorial, Birds having a wander. Not bad fifteen Common Buzzards in under an hour.
Shortly after this news arrived of a Marsh Harrier going North-west from Beddington (ironically just what Kevin has done this year) but unfortunately it didn’t quite get in range of my bins. The best of the rest was a reasonable trickle of Swifts, probably close to twenty Birds over a few hours.
For those of a numeric bent Pete has been continuing to count Tufted Ducks and is currently up to 2,589 for the whole patch, if he sees 107,411 more, then that is the entire UK wintering population, here’s hoping.