2016 was a bit of an Mixed Bag on the patch, overall the patch list was somewhat lacklustre, with the possible exception of a few standout birds, however most of us managed to set personal bests, at least in terms of a yearlist and most got a number of patch finds and patch ticks, hopefully 2017 will be more of an Jamboree Bag.
There will be some sort of year-end review on the blog, though who knows when that might appear, at least it won’t be as late as the opening of Walthamstow Wetlands which appears to be slipping back further and further (Feb 2017, became Autumn 2017 and now it sounds like 2018, though you won’t hear me complaining), anyway enough of the past and the future, what of the present?
With the reservoirs being shut on the 1st of January, today, by default, became the first day of the patch year. I have personally looked forward to this day since about the end of October 2016 as that is when I ran out of steam/enthusiasm/patch ticks. As all patchers know; everything is bright and shiny and new on the first day of the year, even Coots get looked at for a minute.
The gates open at 08:00 at this time of year which, unfortunately, was not early enough to see the Barn Owl which was seen at 04:00(!) yesterday on Tottenham South marsh and would easily have been seen from the Lockwood. This snippet of news came from @StuartFisher16 Now that’s what I call dedication to yearlisting. My personal view is that this is one and the same Barn Owl that has been seen very, very, occasionally since 2015. If so it covers a fair old area and will take some catching up with, if anyone from the Wetlands project reads this, a Barn Owl box would be a really good idea, though please take advice on where to put it.
Connecting with the Owl was always going to be a long shot but the other reason for an early look at the Lockwood was to see Goosanders before they get flushed, 5 drakes, chasing one un/lucky duck were at the North end before we flushed them. A few Greenfinch were near the allotments on the South-west side, a Green Sandpiper played hide and seek in the drainage channel and a cooperative Kingfisher was fishing the west bank. Meadow Pipits just got into double figures.
On the south side @harringaybirder had counted 37 Little Egrets roosting on the island on East Warwick, so we went to have a look. We saw 1. Though after walking around the island we saw some more, and some more and some more. There were birds flying off towards West Warwick, where 23 were in the South-west corner and others were dotted all-round the other reservoirs, we have never had so many during the day in mid-winter. There was a peak evening roost count of 54 a couple of winters ago but there were easily more than that in total today, I wonder how many more may have flown in during the evening?
Other lesser lights included a feeding flock of 5 Chiffchaffs in the grass of the old Horse field alongside nos. 4/5, a 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull on No. 4, two Common Sandpipers on No.4 and No.5, and a showy water Rail and Cetti’s Warbler by the diagonal bridge.
The Black-necked Grebe seems to have done a bunk, as does the Wigeon but most other target birds duly appeared and we finished the day on 66 species. Highlight was of course Pete the Scaup, from now on all patch scarcities are to be named and as Pete finds all the Scaups they shall all be henceforth known as Pete.
|'Pete' an action shot!|
Alastair D had Kestrel and Linnet down on Walthamstow marsh, so by my calculation the only birds currently on the patch yet to be seen, Barn Owl notwithstanding, are Pheasant, Reed Bunting and Snipe, though of course some wunderkind will no doubt pull a Caspian Gull out of the New Bag.
Photos mine, Dave's and Harringaybirders