Sunday, 10 January 2016

Six of the Best

A bit belated but relevant nonetheless, a quick look back, and forward.

It’s not every year that there is an addition to the patchlist but 2015 saw that event; the accolade went to Graham H with his well-deserved Glossy Ibis. Braving the persistent rain he found the bird at the Southern end of the Lockwood and, despite difficulties with communications, managed to get the news out very quickly resulting in quite a few locals connecting with it once it had been re-found at the other end of the reservoir.

In any other year Jamie P’s Hoopoe would have been the star turn, being only the second patch record, but a first is a first. Jamie’s early start was justly rewarded, though, like the Ibis, it only stayed for about 4 hours but still permitted many to add this to their patch lists, unfortunately just as many were thwarted by its ‘now you see me now you don’t’ performance.

Another remarkable bird added to many patchers list was the Barn Owl originally seen by the boat people of Tottenham in March. News slowly trickled out and a concerted effort to see the bird from the patch resulted eventually in many obtaining their first views of the species on the patch.

Frustration rather than elation is connected to the fourth avian highlight of the year, Great White Egret. Probably the 4th to be seen flying over the patch in recent years; despite its national increase it is proving to be a difficult bird to catch up with here, one day there will be a lingerer.

Jamie’s tenacity with all things Larid paid off with a brief and elusive Caspian Gull at the Southern extremity of the patch: Leyton Tip. It is a bird that is surely more common than the numbers suggest. Gulls are nowhere easy to view on the patch, being either too distant on a far reservoir bank, tucked behind industrial equipment on the filter beds or tantalising silhouettes on their way to the Chingford reservoirs at dusk. Kudos.

The sixth highlighted species was more of an event than an appearance. Autumn saw near unprecedented numbers of Coal Tits on the move across Northern Europe and many must have hoped than one might end up on the patch. Almost none of the current crop of regulars have seen the species on the patch, a fact all the more remarkable considering they seem to be regular not much more than 100m away in Springfield Park! All that changed when Jonathan N had the honour of plucking one out at the Waterworks. Still not that easy to connect with but one by one many other locals managed to claw this one back from Stuart F and Paul W. Lol B managing to see one on many occasions from his house overlooking the Lockwood, another was at the Southern end of the West Warwick, maybe they will find themselves on some 2016 yearlists.

So what of 2016?

There were some strange gaps in 2015, a number of annual/near annual species that failed to put in an appearance, or possibly more accurately, failed to get themselves seen by any of us….

Brambling, Curlew, Little Gull, Sandwich Tern, Turtle Dove, Smew, Bittern, Golden Plover, Little Owl, Osprey, Ruddy Duck and Waxwing.

No doubt many of those will find themselves on the 2016 list but what about a bit of speculation…

The safe money must be on Raven adding itself to the Walthamstow list, they are being seen as close as Chingford on a semi-regular basis, it must be our turn soon.

A few species that have occurred in the past must likewise be due a repeat performance…

Ring-necked Duck, Black-throated Diver, Great White Egret, Avocet, Kittiwake, White-winged Black Tern, Red-backed Shrike, Yellow-browed Warbler and Marsh Warbler would all do me very nicely thank you.

Good birding in 2016 and keep the news coming.


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