Saturday, 18 November 2017

Reservoir Logs - October update

                  A confiding Brent Goose joined the crowds for the day on the 29th   pic@JollyJourno

If September was disappointing, then October was surprisingly good. Last year, the last new bird for the entire annual patch list was added on October 8. This year, seven new birds for the reservoirs alone were recorded after that date including a first ever Hawfinch.  Although the Hawfinch, Pink-footed Geese, Short-eared Owl, Siskin and Redpoll were fly-overs, Brent Goose and Water Pipit both joined the crowds on the second weekend after the Wetlands opening.  The month could have been even better with Bullfinch and Brambling- on the Wild Marsh East immediately to the north of Lockwood - and Ring Ousel and Woodcock - on Walthamstow Marsh just to the south - agonisingly close to the reservoirs. The additions take to 137 species recorded on or above the reservoirs this year.

Sunday the 29th was a red letter day with both Pink-feeted Geese and Brent Goose - neither of which are seen annually - recorded. SF had the Pink-feet flying SW over Lockwood early in the morning but the Brent Goose, first found by PL, joined the loafing Canada Geese on High Maynard for at least a couple of hours. It wasn't seen next day. Neither was the drake Mandarin also seen on the 29th on No 5 and No 1 which was only the second record for the year. Wigeon have also been very scarce but a pair were seen on the 18th. Five Red-crested Pochard were found on the 28th on East Warwick. Shoveler numbers on the same reservoir fell sharply during the month but whether that is just seasonal ebb or flow or because of the increased disturbance including from joggers and cyclists misusing the walking only path round the top only time will tell.

                      Three of the five Red-crested Pochard on East Warwick pic Lol Cumming

A drake Scaup was found by PW on Lockwood on the 18th. Unlike the regular wintering bird - which usually arrives around the end of November and remains for a couple of months - this one only stayed for the day. The first Goldeneye of the winter was a female on the 29th.

                                   An early Scaup on Lockwood pic @birdingprof

Four Black-necked Grebes turned up on Lockwood on the 20th to celebrate the first day of the Wetlands with one staying and showing very well until the end of the month. They winter in reasonable numbers on the Girling just to the north but don't often make the short flight south. A pair of Peregrines continued on the pylons with the blue tag on the new female showing it was raised in the West Country.

           A showy Black-necked Grebe  on Lockwood until the month's end pic @jarpartridge

The low levels on Lockwood continued to hold little attraction to any passing waders. There was a Redshank on the 5th and a Dunlin  on the 18th with seven Lapwing  next day and one on the 24th. Both Green and Common Sandpiper now winter on the reservoirs and there was a Green Sandpiper on the 20th with up to two Common Sandpipers on High Maynard or Nos 4 and 5. A Woodcock which was picked up in a car park at Liverpool Street was brought to the reservoirs on the 30th and released at the top of No 1 where its camouflage made it hard to pick up even when you knew where it was. After much soul-searching, it has not been added to the year list as it definitely didn't arrive under its own steam. A Snipe was seen on the 24th.

            Woodcock recuperating after being found in a car park at Liverpool Street

The only gull of note was a Little Gull on Lockwood on the 28th although Common Gulls were back in numbers after their summer absence. The first Short-eared Owl of the year was seen by LC on the 15th at the north end of Lockwood.

             Back of camera shot of Short-eared Owl over Lockwood pic Lol Cumming

October is a good month for visible migration at the reservoirs although we don't seem to do as well as other sites in London. Seven Skylarks were seen on the 12th, singles on the 22nd and 23rd, two on the 25th and four on the 31st. Among the Meadow Pipits passing overhead and on Lockwood, two  Rock Pipits were found on the 28th on No 4 while the first Water Pipit since 2013 was found by @the_no on East Warwick on the 26th and seen intermittently in the same area over the next two days.

Two Rock Pipits were consolation for those searching for the elusive Water Pipits pic @birdingprof

A Black Redstart was found by GJ at the top of Lockwood on the 3rd while up to two Stonechats could be found on the Warwicks during the month. A lingering Wheatear on Lockwood was last seen on the 24th. Visible migration of thrushes took place at the end of the month with a peak count of 170 Redwing and 130 Fieldfare going west on the 31st.  A group of 17 Mistle Thrush were seen on West Warwick on the 8th.

Cetti's Warblers could be heard singing noisily around the reservoirs but other warblers were few. The last Blackcaps were seen on the 8th and Chiffchaffs seem to have dwindled to half a dozen by the end of the month. Goldcrests, in contrast, were widespread with a big influx noted on the 6th.

Jackdaw is another species which is common to the north and south of the reservoirs but, for some reason, are not often seen and usually just passing overhead during migration times. So a flock of 27 on the ground of Lockwood on the 6th was very unusual, even more so as they contained the even rarer sight of a juvenile Rook with them.

Passage finches included 110 Chaffinch west on the 31st and the first Redpoll and Siskin of the year at the reservoirs on the 15th. There has been a remarkable invasion of Hawfinch this year into the UK with many being seen on passage in London. It seemed, however, as if the reservoirs were going to miss out despite many eyes looking until SF heard and saw one flying north over Lockwood and Wild Marsh East on the 28th.

DB @porthkillier

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