Thursday, 7 September 2023

Reservoir Logs - August 2023 round-up


                                   A Little Owl giving a very rare showing on No 2 island  pic @Chris_Farthing

      After a pretty lacklustre July, August started with a bang with two genuine Walthamstow rarities in a pair of Little Owls and a superbly plumaged Cattle Egret in the first two days. The rest of the month was never likely to keep up with this pace but it did produce the first Greenshanks of the year and, on the last day, an elusive Pied Flycatcher.

                    A superb breeding plumaged Cattle Egret spent the day on No 3 pic @magnusphotog  

       The month also saw a nice selection of waders including Turnstone and Ringed Plover, two obliging Black Terns, at least four Spotted Flycatchers and good numbers of  Garden Warblers. The four new birds take the year list so far to 136, eight above last year but still two behind 2021. Common Scoter which can turn up almost any month, Pintail and Red-crested Pochard are now perhaps the most surprising omissions. 
                        This very tame juvenile Black Tern was one of two this month pic @IvorHewstone        
       The Barnacle Goose flock left mid-month with 14 - including the breeding pair and young - returning for a brief visit on the 28th. The last adult Shelduck also departed in the middle of the month, leaving the juvenile behind which remained on No 3 into September. The third Mandarin of the year - a species which usually struggles to be annual - turned up for a typically brief visit on the 4th. 

           The third Mandarin of the year was a typically short-staying female pic @Chris_Farthing
        It looks as if the early autumn build-up of Shoveler on East Warwick, which not long ago could number over 100,  may be a feature of the past with only the odd bird seen this month. One duck that got away was a likely eclipse Garganey seen by the Guide in the Hide team on the 29th on East Warwick which flew south before ID could be confirmed. It would have been only the second record this year. 

                                   Super-mum surrounded by her 13 youngsters pic @Chris_Farthing

       The peak 2162 count of Tufted Duck was, remarkably, exactly the same total as last year and will again be among the biggest gatherings in London. Breeding numbers were down on last year's 50 broods but a conservative count of 31 is still one of the best totals recorded. Very few young survive so the parent of the year award goes to the female which successfully raised 13 young on the killing fields of East Warwick. Who could have guessed that hiding your young in the reeds would keep them away from hungry gulls?          

                                  A young Black-necked Grebe dropped in for the day pic @IvorHewstone

           The third Black-necked Grebe of the year was an approachable  juvenile found by TR on East Warwick on the 14th. A superb adult Cattle Egret in full breeding plumage was found by visiting American birder JK on the southern No 3 island on the 1st which stayed for most of the day. They are getting commoner at the Wetlands but records remain just about annual. 

          At least two and perhaps three pairs of Sparrowhawk bred successfully north and south of the Wetlands with birds seen hunting and soaring over the reservoirs throughout the month. Single Buzzards were seen on 12th and 27th with Hobby recorded on six days from the 16th. 

                               This Buzzard was one of only two seen this month pic @Elliott81758817

           Ten species of wader again occurred in August but with no repeat of last year's low water levels on Lockwood, appearances were more scattered and generally briefer than in 2022.  Oystercatchers were seen on the 23rd and 29th while the only record of Lapwing were two on the 17th. Juvenile Ringed and Little Ringed Plover were found on Lockwood on the 7th where they stayed, often together, until next day.  A second - this time adult - Ringed Plover was seen on the 29th while Little Ringed Plover were also recorded on the 9th and 11th. 

          Juvenile Ringed (above) pic @alanrevel  and Little Ringed Plover pic @magnusphotog

             The only Curlew was a single south calling on the 17th while there were no Whimbrel records at all. But two Turnstone rested briefly in the sunshine on the 3rd in the same area of No 5 which had held five Redshank a few minutes before. Common Sandpiper  passage was strong with daily double figure totals most days. The peak count of 22 on the 27th was just higher than last year's 20 two days earlier. The only Green Sandpipers were on the 10th and 20th. 

                   Two Turnstone made a brief stop on their migration south pic @magnusphotog 

       As well as the five Redshank on the 3rd, there was a single next day and another on the 14th. With no records in the Spring or July, Greenshank were overdue when MA found two on No 4 on the 10th. Another enjoyed a lengthier rest on West Warwick on the 16th.  

                                     The first Greenshank of the year appeared on No 4 pic @magnusphotog

       DC found a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull on Lockwood on the 23rd. Common Terns were a noisy  presence throughout August with breeding on East Warwick and particularly on the Banbury apparently both successful and later than usual. There were still good numbers of juveniles being fed by parents on the 21st - a week after all the terns had departed in 2021. Numbers quickly dwindled but a very late fledged bird from East Warwick was still being fed by one of its parents into September. 

       It was the Common Tern nursery on the ramp on Lockwood that attracted a juvenile Black Tern found by PL on the 17th. It gave great views before spending the rest of the day catching flies over No 1. Amazingly, the same reservoir held a moulting adult found by CF next day. 

                 Juvenile Black Tern (above) pic @Ivor Hewstone and moulting adult pic @ Chris_Farthing

        The surprise of the month was a pair of Little Owls found on the 2nd. The first was discovered sunning itself on the No 2 island by LB. Those who dashed round to see the first 'twitchable' Little Owl on the reservoirs for decades were astonished to see a second bird appear briefly with it. Only one was ever seen again irregularly over the next few days and then only for a couple of minutes each time. But sporadic calling suggests at least one bird was still in residence until the end of the month. Given how elusive it/they have been and the sighting of a bird in the same area in January, who knows how long they have been present. 

           Whether it was the weather or, more worryingly,  again a sign of continuing population declines, Swifts and Swallows were scarce this month. For the second year running, Swifts numbers were low from mid-month onwards. There were several days with no sightings at all and only eight on the last day when 150 had been seen in 2021. It was the same story with Swallows with only a handful of records across the month. 

                        A family of Kingfishers delighted visitors on the Coppermill pic @MLP

        In contrast, Kingfishers were both numerous and showy. A family by the Coppermill bridge - thought to have been a second brood from No 5 - put on a great display for a week as they waited for their parents to arrive with food. An unprecedented third Coal Tit of the year was seen opposite the Ferry Boat garden on the 10th. 
          It was also a good month for passage warblers, Willow Warblers were recorded every day in good numbers with an estimate of at least 20 across the site on the 21st. Garden Warblers, usually a relatively scarce visitor, were commoner than usual with a conservative peak count of five on 4th. There were still at least three on the 21st and two on the last day of the month. Lesser Whitethroat also continued to be seen in small numbers across the site and month. 

                      Lesser Whitethroats were regularly seen by the Woolley Hide pic @Elliott81758817 
      The first Spotted Flycatcher of the autumn was found on the 21st, four days later than last year,  and were then seen daily until the end of the month. It seems likely that at least five birds passed through with three separate birds seen on the 29th & 30th. Pied Flycatcher is a much less regular visitor to the Wetlands with the only record a very elusive individual found by LB on the last day of the month. 

                        A posing Spotted (above) pic @MLP and wary Pied Flycatcher pic @LolBodini.    

          The first Whinchat arrived on the 16th with others on the 20th & 21st, 24th, 25th(2) and 31st. After the first Wheatear on the 15th, passage was heavier than the last couple of years with five on the 16th and 10+ on the 25th (including six together). But Yellow Wagtails continue their decline in records with only two fly-overs on the 11th and 25th. 

                                  Whinchats graced the Wetlands from mid-month pic @Elliott81758817

DB @porthkillier

Thursday, 10 August 2023

Reservoir Logs - Summer 2023 round-up

                               Little Ringed Plover photo-bombing Dunlin on Lockwood pic @Chris_Farthing  

     Summer saw excellent breeding records including the first ever fledged Barnacle Goose, solid wader passage and the usual crop of out-of-season oddities, Wigeon, Spotted Flycatcher and Black Redstart were added to the year list in June with Raven making a flying visit in July. The four additions take the total so far to 132 - nine ahead of last year, but the same total as in 2021.
           The first ever successful breeding of Barnacle Geese took place on No 5 pic @Elliott81758817

       After failed attempts in the last two years, Barnacle Geese finally succeeded in raising young.. The disappearance of the family from their home around No 4/5 on July 23rd had raised fears that, as last year, foxes had caught the last remaining youngster so there was relief when the family were then seen flying in from the playing fields. Another pair tried to nest on the big No 5 island but the eggs look as if they failed to hatch. For the third successive year, a flock of adults - presumably from further up the Lea Valley - also arrived on No 5 to moult in July. 

      It was an equally happy story of breeding success with Shelduck.  After two years when none of the young survived, five birds from two broods have already fledged and left the Wetlands with a single smaller young from a third brood still going strong at the end of July. Gadwall have also raised one large family successfully while the number of Pochard - a rare UK breeder - was up from 15 to 16 broods. As usual, new Tufted Duck families were still appearing into August but numbers seem to be down on last year's total of 46 broods at the end of July although keeping an accurate count is difficult when the young disappear so fast.   

                      Hard to believe a bird as bright as this drake Mandarin could disappear but it did pic @MLP

    June saw the the year's second Mandarin - found by MLP - arrive on the 23rd for the species's typical brief appearance. Wigeon had been the most glaring omission from the year list but it was still a surprise when a drake was found on High Maynard on the very untypical date of June 3rd. 

                                      A very out-of-season Wigeon on High Maynard  pic @Elliott81758817

       Just one Red Kite was recorded on June 24th but Buzzards were more frequent with sightings on June 4th, 9th, 12th, 23rd and 29th which was pretty much a complete reversal of the two species occurrence last summer. There was little sign that Hobby had bred nearby with only single records on June 17th and July 9th. With Peregrines a much rarer sight on the pylons around the Wetlands than usual, Sparrowhawk was the commonest raptor - often seen carrying food - while Kestrels also wandered over occasionally from Tottenham and Walthamstow Marsh. 

    Ten species of wader - the same as last summer - were seen with May's strong and late passage continuing into early June and the first birds heading south only a couple of weeks later. The most surprising omission from the list was Black-tailed Godwit with no records this summer compared to over 40 birds - including two large flocks - either over or on the reservoirs last July, There has only been one record all year so far. 

                               Lapwing were seen on six dates in June and July   pic @giles_greenwood

       But Oystercatcher which weren't seen last summer made a come-back with singles on June 6th, July 13th & 14th and two on July 9th. Lapwing were seen on four dates in June with two on the 8th with a further record on July 13th. A late Ringed Plover was seen on June 1st & 2nd with a more expected adult Little Ringed Plover also on the latter date.  July saw more Little Ringed Plovers with birds - largely juveniles - on July 1st, 2nd, 14th, 15th, 16th, and two on the 17th.  

                                    Adult Ringed Plover (above) @Chris_Farthing and juv Little Ringed Plover @Elliott81758817

      May's exceptional showing by Sanderling continued with a final bird on June 1st. A late Dunlin was also seen that day with returning birds on July 5th and 17th. Single Curlew flew over on June 29th and July 8th. It was also a very good summer for Redshank with singles on June 2nd, 3rd and 6th with two on 14th with records in July on 13th, 19th, with two again on July 25th and 30th. There had only been two records last year by the end of July. 

    There was a gap of less than three weeks before the last two Common Sandpiper going north on June 2 and what was presumably the first returning bird on the 21st, four days earlier than last year. The species was then seen every day in July with numbers building to a maximum count of 18 on the 26th. Green Sandpipers as usual returned even earlier with two on June 20th in heavy rain but, unusually, this was the only record of the summer.  

                                            Redshank were surprisingly regular visitors pi@Elliott81758817

           In what is the first breeding since 2016 at the Wetlands, a pair of Great Black-backed Gulls successfully raised one young on the small No 5 island. They were excellent parents with one bird always staying close to the youngster which was often hidden in the vegetation. The species is a rare breeder in London with no records in 2021 and just one in the previous two years. 

                          Great Black-backed Gull keeping a close watch on its chick pic @Chris_Farthing 
     In contrast, numbers of young of both Black-headed Gulls and Common Terns appeared to be down this summer. Black-heads seemed to be the main victims of Avian Flu this year at the Wetlands which, although it thankfully did not seem too severe, may have had an impact on the young packed on the raft on Lockwood. 

        Perhaps only four or five pairs of Common Terns successfully nested - all this summer on East Warwick - where they raised at least six young. This compares to ten pairs on West Warwick alone last year with others nesting on Lockwood.  But it seems as if the colony has just moved half a mile north of the Wetlands to Banbury where at least 10 pairs nested and, from the evidence adults carrying fish, did very well. Adult Mediterranean Gulls were seen on June 17th and July 5 with Yellow-legged Gulls picked out on Lockwood by RE on July 11th and 15th, over two weeks earlier than last year's first sightings.
                         Mediterranean Gulls were attracted by nesting Black-heads pic @magnusphotog

       Raven are moving into the outskirts of London and this year have raised young just a few miles up the Lea Valley so should become a more regular visitor. But it remains rare and the first since 2021 was seen by visiting Irish birder PM over the Engine House on July 7th. Kingfishers are the bird most visitors want to see and they did not disappoint this summer. The pair which nested on No 5 no sooner seemed to fledge one set of young than they set about rearing a second brood, with both adults and young delighting photographers while a second pair often fed on the Coppermill south of Lockwood. 

      Swift numbers, as expected, fell from the middle of July as local breeders started their migration but should build again in August as northern birds use the reservoirs as a service station to break their journey south. Sand Martins also began to move in small numbers in July with the occasional Swallow passing through on July 3, 20th, 23rd and 25th. 

                                A Wetlands Blackcap was retrapped in Spain three months after it was rung 

          There seemed to be plenty of young Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps around the Wetlands with good numbers of Reed Warblers also caught in the regular ringing sessions. Among the birds rung last June was a Blackcap which was re-caught near Zaragoza in Spain three months later - a journey of 1095 km.  

                                                June Wheatears are now becoming regular  @Chris_Farthing

           A Garden Warbler, which may have bred nearby, was caught on July 9th with a second bird seen on the 21st while the first returning Willow Warbler arrived on the last day of July, two days later than last year but on the same date as in 2021. The Spotted Flycatcher seen on June 26th along the 123 path and the male Black Redstart at the south end of Lockwood on the 30th were both unexpected and both new for the year. But there now seems to be a regular pattern of Wheatear turning up in June with a late - or early - bird on the 7th, the third year running the Wetlands has had a record this month.. 

DB @porthkillier 


Monday, 12 June 2023

Reservoir Logs - May 2023 round-up

The flock of seven Sanderling was largest in recent times pic @Chris_Farthing 

       May produced quality birds from the beginning to the end of the month with flocks of both Sanderling and Turnstone the highlights. In another blaze of colour, the month also saw Black Terns, Black-necked Grebes and Garganey along with Ringed Plover and Hobby added to the year list. 

                                         One of three Black Terns which fed on Lockwood pic @henrywynjones

       These eight additions in May take the year list to 127, ten more than last year and three more than in 2021. Wigeon is - inexplicably - the big miss so far but the Wetlands might also have expected to have recorded Greenshank and Black Redstart already. Far more serious is the fact that for the second year running Avian Flu is infecting birds at the Wetlands. This summer it is Black-headed Gulls and Cormorants that seem worst affected.  

        For the second successive year, Barnacle Geese have hatched young on No 5. Four young were initially seen with one quickly lost but the remaining birds survived until the end of the month.They  could usually be found around the No 4/5 causeway close to the trout fishermen who not only share their sandwiches but also provide some protection from marauding foxes. Another pair appeared to be trying to breed on the big island on No 5 but there has so far being no sign of any success. 

                        This stunning drake Garganey made a late Spring appearance pic @MLP

         It looked as if Spring was going to pass without any Garganey being seen until MLP photographed a stunning drake on No 3 on the 24th which stayed for the day. Shoveler are often missing in May but up to four were seen from the 20th. A Teal was also an unusual record for May with a drake seen for a few days in the middle of the month on No 3. After arriving in early January, the drake Scaup was last seen on the 5th, the latest a wintering bird has stayed in recent years. 

      As the wintering Scaup departed, the breeding ducks began to produce young. The first Tufted Duck family were seen on the 22nd - three weeks earlier than last year - with at least a couple of Pochard broods as well before the end of the month along with a Gadwall family.  

                                Superb Black-necked Grebes were seen on two days pic @EugeneDH_Bass

        A stunning Black-necked Grebe was found on Lockwood on the 12th and came so close it could be heard singing. It, or another, also appeared on East Warwick on the 28th. Two Great White Egrets were recorded with one flying over No 4 on the 13th and a second over Lockwood on the 27th. At least 22 Little Egret nests were found in the breeding survey this month. This is three down on last year's total but the team were unable to carry out a full second survey so nests may have been missed.  

        Red Kites were seen on the 15th and 28th compared to five days last year while Buzzards were slightly more frequent with records on the 13th, 14th and 28th, one more day than in 2022. Hobbies dashed over the reservoirs on the 4th, 9th, 12th and 27th. 

                                      Hobby was a scarce visitor to the Wetlands this month pic @magusphotog

      May saw an excellent ten species of waders at the Wetlands with the persistent and strong northerly winds  extending migration right to the end of the month. Just like last year, there was only one record of Lapwing with a single on the 23rd. Oystercatchers were slightly more common with one on the 3rd, two on the 11th and one on 13th although the Song Thrush at the north end of Lockwood which does a wonderful imitation suggested they are passing over all the time....

                    Both Ringed (above) and Little Ringed Plover were seen pics @Chris_Farthing

        The first two Ringed Plover of the year were seen on Lockwood on the 13th - six days later than the only record last Spring - with a single on the 22nd. Single Little Ringed Plover were seen on the 3rd, 27th and 31st compared to no records last year. Black-tailed Godwit are more normally an early Autumn bird at the Wetland but CF had the first record of the year flying over on the 3rd. 

                     Five Turnstone enjoyed the small area of shingle on Lockwood pics @magnusphotog

      Despite continuing high water levels, Lockwood proved attractive for waders at the end of the month as perhaps the strong northerly winds prompted them to take a breather on their passage.  DW, on a weekend visit from his wardening job on the Wash, thought he was back in Norfolk when he found five superb summer-plumaged Turnstone on the shingle at the north end on the 20th.

     The Sanderling flock showed a mix of plumages pic (above) @rom_london & @HarringayBirder 

        Sanderling had been considered a rarity at the Wetlands with records in only four years in the previous decade before five turned up together last May. But in a month when this charismatic wader seemed to drop down on lakes and reservoirs across the country, this count was surpassed. The first bird appeared in front of those watching the Black Terns on the 27th before seven - the biggest flock anyone can remember - were seen together at the south end next day. In contrast, it was a blank month for Dunlin when there were four records  in May last year. 

                                 May saw a prolonged passage of Common Sandpipers pic @Elliott81758817

      After poor numbers of Common Sandpiper in April, May was better with records right until the last day. This is 11 days later than the final Spring bird last year and three days later than in both 2020 and 2021. Another sign that migration was held up by the weather was that while the peak count of nine was the same as last year, this May it was on the 27th rather than the 1st. The only Green Sandpiper was seen on the 3rd, one day later than the final record last year. 

       Late April's nice run of Arctic Terns continued with singles on the 1st, 4th and 8th. With the end of the month fast approaching, it looked as if the Spring might pass without a Black Tern being seen until ML found three on Lockwood in full summer-plumaged on the afternoon of  the 27th. 

              Black Terns performed superbly (above) pic @magnusphotog & EugeneDH_Bass

            There were again welcome signs that Cuckoo are getting commoner with three more sightings after April's first record. Silent birds were seen on the 7th and 22nd with the wonderful sound of a male calling on the 16th. Kingfishers continued to show well with the pair nesting on the small No 5 island regularly taking fish to feed their youngsters by the month end.                           

         While the northerly airflow undoubtedly extended wader passage at the Wetlands it didn't seem to drop many smaller migrants  on the reservoirs. Small numbers of Swallows continued to be seen with ten on the 4th and four still on the 15th. The last Willow Warbler in a good Spring for the species was on the 12th and the final Whinchat on the 2nd, one day later than last year. The disappointing Spring for Yellow Wagtails continued with just two on the 2nd and one on the 4th the only records. Wheatear passage was light but again prolonged with singles still seen on the 25th and 30th.  

                                                       Wheatear and sleeping Egyptian Goose pic @alanrevel

           There was, however, plenty of bird song with Common Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Reed Warblers marking out their territory across the Wetlands. Three singing Lesser Whitethroats - the same as last year - were also heard while a second Garden Warbler sang for a few days in bushes between the Warwicks. None were seen until June last year. But sadly it seems as if the rooting out of the brambles along the banks of both East and West Warwick has led to a reduction in Sedge Warblers across the site with only around half of last year's 10+ singing birds.   

 DB @porthkillier


Friday, 12 May 2023

Reservoir Logs - April 2023 round-up

               An unprecedented five Common Redstarts were seen this month pic @EugeneDH_Bass 

      After March's fireworksApril's birding was solid rather than spectacular although a remarkable five Common Redstarts meant there was plenty of colour as well as activity, The month saw the hoped-for passage of Little & Mediterranean Gulls, Arctic Terns, Yellow Wagtails, Whinchat, Whimbrel and Wheatears while Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Redshank and Rook were all also added to the year list

                        This pair of summer-plumaged Dunlin are the only record so far pic @sjnewton 

      Cool northerly winds slowed the arrival of the Wetland's summer visitors but by the end of the month Common Tern, Swift, Reed Warbler, Common & Lesser Whitethroat were in residence. Garden Warbler and Cuckoo were also seen to raise hopes they, too, might breed on or around the site. The first Red-legged Partridge for two years was the oddity of the month which also saw the second Woodcock and Marsh Harrier of the year. The 19 additions take the year list so far to an above average 120. This is seven more than last year and the same total as in 2021.   
                                                    Yellow Wagtails brightening up Lockwood pic @wheresrhys

       A pair of Barnacle Geese continued to show every sign of nesting again on the big island on No 5.  Shoveler numbers dwindled throughout the month, as expected, with the last record on the 23rd but a couple of Common Teal remained into May. So did the smart drake Scaup which first arrived in early January and showed no sign of wanting to leave. East Warwick was its favourite haunt this month although it did continue to make occasional forays across the site. 

                                    The long-staying Scaup looking mean and magnificent pic @AMP

       The last Red-legged Partridge in Spring 2021 became so familiar with the Wetlands that it would run under the rail bridge to move between East and West Warwick. But sadly the bird found by LB on High Maynard on the 3rd vanished straight away. A count found 27 occupied Grey Heron nests which is one down on last year but less than half the number as recently as 2010.     

       After no records at all in 2022, DDL and MA found the second Marsh Harrier of the year drifting north on the 9th. Single Red Kites were seen on the 8th, 9th, 13th and 17th with two on the 7th while Buzzards were recorded on seven days with two on the 9th. 

                    One of three Curlew which passed over  the Wetlands on the 4th pic @Callahanbirder

      The disappointing year for waders continued with the high water level in the reservoirs providing little encouragement for birds to stop. Like last year, Little Ringed Plovers were scarce with only three single records this month. Whimbrel is an expected April bird with two on the 21st and a third on the 28th while the 4th also saw three Curlew flying over. Dunlin should be one of the more regular waders but the only record so far was of two on the 28th on Lockwood where CF found the second Woodcock of the year on the 17th.

      Common Sandpiper passage has been particularly poor. The first of the year arrived on the 1st and stayed four days but there was another gap before the second turned up on the 10th. Records were then almost daily but usually just of single birds. The maximum count was five on the 28th compared to last year's peak of seven and nine in 2021. At least one Green Sandpipers was seen on the 17th and 23rd with two together on the 21st while the only Common Redshank was a bird heard on the 26th. 

                      Unlike April's other Little Gulls this adult stayed for two days @Chris_Farthing                              
      While wader passage was poor, it was a good month for gulls. March's immature Kittiwake stayed on East Warwick until the 8th. Unlike last year when there was only one record of Little Gull, there was a small passage this month with a 1W on the 19th and three adults on the 20th making brief stops on Lockwood. Two more adults were seen on the 24th on West Warwick, one of which hung around giving great views until the next day. April is also a likely month for Mediterranean Gulls passing with two adults over on the 19th, three more next day and another two on the 28th. 

                  A trickle of Mediterranean Gulls passed over the Wetlands pic @Callahanbirder

      The first Common Tern of the year was a single on the 3rd, ten days earlier than last year, but after hanging around until the 6th, it moved on. Six more arrived after heavy rain on the 10th but it was another ten days before the Wetlands' breeding birds arrived. Arctic Tern is another April speciality and at least four were seen on the 25th - exactly the same date as the first last year - on a day when parties of terns were moving through with two more next day.   

                                     Arctic Terns moved through in small numbers pic @Elliott81758817

      After a long period when Cuckoo was a real rarity at the Wetlands, the species is happily becoming more regular with a silent bird found on the south side by CF on the 28th. Rook remains very uncommon at the Wetlands and the singles seen on the 9th on the No 5 island by RE and over Lockwood on the 12th by SN may be the only bona fide records of the year.  

                            Photographic evidence of a Rook at the Wetlands pic @wheresrhys

          The first Swift, like the first Wheatear is eagerly awaited. This year there was a mass arrival with 12 birds appearing together on the 20th, five days ahead of last year, with 20 next day. Sand Martins had arrived in good numbers by the end of the month with House Martins from the filter beds colony also feeding over the reservoirs, They were joined by a steady trickle of Swallows moving through. A Wetlands rarity was a Coal Tit - the second of the year - singing at the top end of High Maynard on 9th.  

            Overall, warblers were earlier than last year although often in very small numbers until late in the month. The first Sedge Warblers on the 8th, Reed Warbler and Common Whitethroat on the 11th and Lesser Whitethroat on the 25th were all amazingly three days earlier than in 2022.  A Garden Warbler was singing on the 29th while last year the first was not heard or seen until June. Compared to last year when there were only records on five days all Spring, there was a strong and prolonged passage of Willow Warblers. They could be heard most days until the 26th with at least five singing on the 4th. 

                        Willow Warblers were a familiar sound and sight this April pic @rudrasksh9

          The final Redwing of the winter was seen on the 7th and last Fieldfare on the 5th. In a nice changing of the seasons, the 5th was also the first of an unprecedented number of Common Redstarts - a species usually seen a couple of times a year -  at the Wetlands. The first superb male was found by JB along the side of Low Maynard where it stayed, although often surprisingly hard to see, in a small group of bushes for five days. A female showed itself far more briefly and typically on the 7th before a second male was found between the Warwicks next day. Another male was seen near the Engine House on the 18th with the fourth male - and fifth bird - in the same area on the 29th. 

April's big draw was the long-staying Redstart on Low Maynard  pic @HarringayBirder 

        It was also a good month for Wheatear passage with records almost daily after the 2nd with peak counts of at least eight on the 10th and ten-plus on the 23rd compared to a highest count of just six last year. The only Stonechat was a late bird on the 2nd while the first Whinchats were two stunning males on the 24th - nine days later than the earliest last year. One male stayed on Lockwood until next day in a small party of Wheatears, with a female briefly on the 26th.  

                          Wheatear pic @rudraksh9 and (below) Whinchat pic @Chris_Farthing  

         Yellow Wagtails are another beautiful migrant whose sightings at the Wetlands - as elsewhere - are sadly falling. The first was seen on the early date of the 9th, two weeks ahead of last year. After a wait of ten days, there were sightings on another six dates but the highest count was just three on the 27th.

                        Two male Bramblings played hide and seek this month  pic @Elliott81758817                                          
         Brambling were the definition of elusive this month. After going missing for a few days, what was thought to be March's smart male was re-found on the 1st. Two males were then seen briefly on the 12th, on the 16th and next day with the final sighting of one bird on the 19th. Siskin were equally flighty with one on the 4th and two on the 8th in the alders before disappearing.
                          Siskins rarely stay long enough to be photographed at the Wetlands pic @ AMP 

DB @porthkillier

Reservoir Logs - August 2023 round-up

                                      A Little Owl giving a very rare showing on No 2 island  pic @Chris_Farthing       After a pretty lackl...