Friday, 27 January 2017

A Hard Swallow....

The last time a Swallow was seen in the capital in January, according to The Birds of London, Napoleon was ruling much of Europe and Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were still a few days from being born. The one and only record for the month for London dates as far back as January 29th,1809. So whatever happens in the rest of 2017, Dan B's discovery of a Swallow over the filter beds on Wednesday will remain one of London's most remarkable sightings of the year. What it was doing turning up in the coldest snap of the winter will remain a mystery but it has had the good grace to survive and hang around so a steady trickle of visitors can enjoy this piece of ornithological history. I saw it from No 5 - through two fences and across Coppermill Lane - hawking low over the eastern two sets of filter beds. It was distant but very obviously a Swallow. The only pic so far is blown up from Dan's phone which may not be the best ever photograph of a Swallow but is a lot better than they would have managed in 1809.

It appears to be only the second sighting of a Swallow anywhere in the UK so far this year with the first in Dorset two weeks ago.When I returned later for another look, I met Davey L who pointed out the Black Redstart which Dan had also found on Wednesday. It was feeding on the north-south path between the two eastern-most sets of beds and was presumably the same one that was on No 5 earlier in the month.

The rest of the day on the reservoirs was much more hum-drum except for a good number of Snipe presumably dislodged from the marsh by the freeze. There were two at the top of No 1, another on West Warwick and at least eight from the bank of East Warwick. almost all of which flew into the secret lagoon on the island. There was a female Goldeneye on West Warwick, three more on Lockwood and a pair on High Maynard. No 4 was largely frozen, as were No 1 and No 5, so the Scaup was doing one of his regular away days. Lockwood still has its wintering party of a dozen Meadow Pipits and there are small numbers of Fieldfare scattered around with two Chiffchaffs in the horse paddock. A Common Sandpiper was seen later on No 5.
DB @porthkillier

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