Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Lord Mayor’s Show

Partially thanks to @AM_Winstanley efforts yesterday and his sightings of the Short-eared Owl, a few of us decided that we should start early and grab a goodly haul of species before the reservoirs opened, this plan sort of got out of hand, but proved to be a winning strategy, as we finally got to the reservoirs about 11:00! In the past the emphasis has been to focus on the reservoirs and then fill in the gaps elsewhere, perhaps doing it this way round is better, though I suspect it will depend on the circumstance of the individual year.

Stuart's Very Technical Sound Recording Equipment - @leevalleybirder

As we arrived on Wildmarsh East shortly after 05:00 we saw a furtive figure with an inverted child’s umbrella standing near to where the Grasshopper Warbler was singing, we decided to give him a wide berth, not scared just respectful, it was @genghisattenborough doing his sound recording bit.

Grasshopper Warbler Vid - @leevalleybirder

We had a good wander around but drew a blank on the Short-eared Owl though Pheasant gave itself up easily though as did the Gropper.

Grasshopper Warbler - @leevalleybirder

Next up was Walthamstow Marsh. A Goldcrest was heard by the Filter Beds in Coppermill Lane and a few species were snatched from the reservoirs by peering through the fence onto No.5 but we were to see all of them again once inside.

On the Marsh proper @jarpartridge scored an early Hobby moving East which myself and @leevalleybirder glimpsed moving away. Cetti’s Warblers were abundant on the Marsh, five birds singing, mostly along the line of the railway.

Graham’s efforts at cross-dressing (he’d crammed his feet into his wife’s Wellington Boots) paid dividends when a Snipe was flushed from the reed bed, even better was a calling Water Rail. A singing Willow Warbler was a surprise (another couple were recorded during the day behind the Ferry Boat Inn and between nos.2 &3 reservoirs).

Walthamstow Marsh - @leevalleybirder

Walthamstow Marsh - @leevalleybirder

Three Duck flew towards us going South along the line of the Lea, ‘wouldn’t it be nice if they were Red-crested Pochard’ I said. They were, and it was.

Graham, suitably shod, was delegated to walk through the Bomb Crater field but drew a blank, until reaching the South-east corner where a very probable Whinchat flew off, I caught the back end of it but couldn’t add anything to the identification, very nearly the one that got away but Gavin W had it/one on the paddocks later, so we'll have it. Behind the line of Black Poplars, one that definitely didn’t get away was a female Redstart, though it was only on view for a matter of a minute.

As we were on a roll we decided to extend our walk to the Waterworks, postponing our visit to the reservoirs, a flyover Rook on the Pitch’n’Putt, spotted by Jamie, made the diversion worthwhile. A Snipe in one of the beds made Grahams Wellingtons a bit unnecessary but we weren’t to know that at the time. On balance the Waterworks was a bit of a waste of time as we dipped most of our targets, though @suzehu more than made up for that later.

The front paddocks delivered Mistle Thrush to Graham but sadly I was blindsided by a Tree and never did catch up with that tasty morsel all day. There is always some easy bird that you don’t get on a big day, I find it strange in my case that it is often Mistle Thrush!

The back paddocks were a bit quiet but a male Wheatear looked spiffy. By now we needed to put on a bit of pace as we were hoping to rendezvous with Pete L as he opened the gate to the Banbury, a forbidden place for most of us (strictly speaking). He did warn us that we wouldn’t see anything, he was right, apart from another Wheatear and a couple of Common Sandpipers nada. Still nothing ventured nothing gained, so thanks Pete. He had not seen the Short-eared Owl either so we decided that it wasn’t worth giving that anymore time.

Walthamstow Birders - @leevalleybirder

Lockwood from Banbury - @leevalleybirder

Walthamstow Birders - @leevalleybirder

Northern Wheatear - @leevalleybirder

By now I think we were probably on around 70 species and it was time to get onto the reservoirs. As the weather was so fine we thought that there would be no Waders and so decided to do the Southern section first, contra the usual format. On the West Warwick a party of 4 Terns proved to be Arctic but swiftly moved through. Mike M had another single later.

A single Buzzard South and shortly afterwards two North gave promise of Raptors to come but sadly apart from one more from the pub that was it. During the course of the day a couple of Yellow Wagtails and Meadow Pipits were all the flyover migrants we could muster. Swifts and Hirundines put in a reasonable effort and were seen in small numbers throughout the day.

Five Common Sandpipers were scattered around the Southern section with a further eight on the High Maynard and three on the Lockwood, the only other Wader of the day was a Green Sandpiper seen by Sue and Mark on the High Maynard early doors.

After a strategy planning meeting (sit down and a pint) at the Ferry Boat Inn, where we listened in vain for a Kingfisher we tackled the Northern section. Pickings were slim. A message from Sue helped us formulate a plan to go back to the Waterworks as she had seen most of our, still wanted, targets, plus a Redpoll. The latter had been seen and heard singing in there last week and is surprisingly late for us.

The traffic was a bit of a pain but we got down there about 16:00 and grabbed the, up until now, missing Kingfisher and saw the previously reported Great Spotted Woodpecker. We were unable to track down the Green Woodpecker, Teal or Redpoll, but you can’t see them all.

Buoyed up by our new additions and mindful that the previous patch watch record was in reach we headed for the glories of Leyton Tip. @JW_Davies had drawn a blank there this morning, pretty much like we had done at the Waterworks in the morning, so nothing ventured, nothing gained we thought we’d have a look anyway. Result. Straight off two silent (makes a change for them) Jackdaw were seen feeding in a skip, nice. Then Jamie identifies a 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull. We thought we had broken the record; that is until we heard about Alastair D’s two Sandwich Terns over Walthamstow Marsh this afternoon and Mike M’s Little Gull on No.4, not broken, smashed!

Jackdaw - @leevalleybirder

Last year’s record breaking total of 83 species has to give way to this year’s 88. My personal best of 78 was also topped and now stands at 81. @porthkillier has now arrived back from sunning himself and is set to catch up with what we’ve all had, I hope his returns are not the typical showing after the Lord Mayors Show.


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