Friday, 18 September 2015

Hirundine Heaven

It was nice to see the reservoirs at the centre of migration today even if it was restricted to hirundines. But the numbers of Swallows and House Martins passing through were truly spectacular. As @birdingprof and I walked towards Lockwood, it was clear there were hundreds around feeding high with small parties of largely Swallows moving south-east. But around 9-30 this migration reversed as it did at other London sites and the numbers built up. At their peak for half an hour after 10 am, we were counting well over 100 a minute flying steadily north west low over Lockwood and higher up over Maynard.  It is impossible to give an accurate estimate but, with flocks feeding all around up above us, there must have been thousands rather than hundreds. Most appeared to be Swallows with perhaps 40 per cent House Martin and a few Sand Martins as well.
      In contrast, the rest of the day was disappointing, given that the weather was good and it was mid-September. We had only a solitary Meadow Pipit overhead while the southern complex had a Willow Warbler in sub-song and a Lesser Whitethroat still around the magic (semi) circle on the central path along with a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. On his way home, Paul had a Siskin over the Ferry Boat Inn while I had a late Reed Warbler on West Warwick and an early male Stonechat on East Warwick. Otherwise it was one of those days where Kingfishers were showy with half a dozen different sightings, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel both recorded and perhaps three different Cetti's singing. There were also still at least two lingering Common Terns.


An afternoon visit to the Waterworks yielded four Spotted Flycatcher, five Willow Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, and a juvenile Peregrine that flew onto one of the pylons.  A Goldcrest was seen calling from bushes alongside the path.


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