Tuesday, 21 April 2015

LRP, RLP ...PRL, LPR OR RPL ANYONE? (OK SCRAP THE LAST 3)

20/4/15   JP suggested a lunchtime rendezvous on the Lockwood on this sunny but breezy April day,
and I was happy to oblige. It's also easier to get onto the res at the moment from my place on the Billet Road, whilst work's being done to create a new concrete cycle path through what will become 'Walthamstow Wetlands' in a couple of years time.
Practically the first thing I came across was a lovely Little Ringed Plover (my first of the year), which later became a pair (see Jamie's pics below).  The news was twitterfied (a form of communication I've resisted until now...probably not for much longer, as it is useful in the context of birding at least), and we were soon joined by PW and JN, who'd spent the morning seeking out some dubious semi-wild pheasant sp. in the home counties somewhere...
Apart from a lone female Wheatear, 2 Common Sandpipers on the island on High Maynard, and a trickle of hirundines, there wasn't much about - disappointingly, a lack of large raptors in seemingly ideal conditions - that is, until a Rook sailed overhead - my second in a week, the patch 4th in a week and only my second ever! A surprisingly rare species on the patch considering they're commonly found in the more countrified areas a few miles further up the Lea valley.







So the 4 of us moved on to the South side starting with a circuit of the East Warwick where again there wasn't much of note except a lone Lapwing and a couple of Great Black-backs milling about.
As we made our way across to the no 5 res (and I dumbly misidentified a Sparrowhawk as Peregrine..doh!), Paul suddenly called out Red-legged Partridge! and sure enough, a bit further up the road adjacent to the East Warwick, was said RLP strolling nonchalantly along without a care in the world! Another widespread farmland bird which is very rare in urban areas, and a patch first for everyone except PW...
So another enjoyable, and very worthwhile few hours on the patch...roll on Sunday!  
Lol Bodini

21/4/15  Another beautiful spring day in London town - with not a cloud in the sky this time, though still a fair Easterly breeze - and I had arranged to meet up with Rachael Smith, the newly appointed 'Community Liaison' person (apologies if I've got the title wrong) for the London Wildlife Trust. Rachael will be responsible for publicising the new Walthamstow Wetlands Centre as well as taking groups on regular walks around the reservoirs (concentrating on the South side).
She and her boss David Mooney have asked local birders to assist with these walks where possible during the two years leading up to the grand opening of the Wetlands Centre in 2017, and I have offered my assistance at least once a month. If anyone else reading this feels the urge to do the same, just let me know and I can pass on the relevant details.
We walked through the path between reses 1,2 & 3 and almost immediately I spotted 2 duck take off with pale blue forewings. They landed by the island on no.2 res and sure enough were a splendid pair of Garganey! Not very good at remembering dates of stuff I've seen, but suffice to say that it's been at least 3 years since I saw one of these on the patch (and possibly longer). I told Rachael how lucky she was to see such a scarce species and she was suitably impressed. Unfortunately, whilst chatting away I lost site of the pair and couldn't relocate them (luckily Jamie P relocated them a few hours later skulking under a log on same island - hopefully pics to follow!).
The only other birds of note were 1 Common Sandpiper on East Warwick, a single (adult) Common Gull on Low Maynard and Yellow Wagtail heard passing over Lockwood, where I also later had magnificent views of a Peregrine sailing past the house, it's black mask and yellow legs clearly visible in superb light against the cloudless blue sky.
I should finish by saying that from my earlier conversations with Rachael, I've ascertained that the habitat improvement plans are going to be concentrated around reservoirs 1, 2 & 3, at least in the initial stages (there may be other works done later in other areas when more money becomes available). It's a bit vague at the moment except that they plan on creating more reedbeds, improving the existing hides (and possibly erecting new ones), and creating the new Visitors Centre of course, which will also have a cafe and education centre.  She assured me that there will definitely NOT be dog walkers allowed in and NO playground for kids, so that's good news! I stressed birders' wish for some kind of 'scrape' to attract waders e.g. breeding LRPs, and she took that on board and promised to relay that message to the 'powers that be'.  Onwards and upwards...
Lol Bodini

Garganey - GH
Garganey pair - GH
Island on No.1 Reservoir - GH

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