Wednesday 7 February 2024

Reservoir Logs - January 2024 round-up

                                     A Long-tailed Duck dropped onto No 4 for the afternoon pic @IvorHewstone

         The first Long-tailed Duck for five years helped get the New Year off to a flying start. January also saw the first Red-crested Pochard since 2022 as well as a visit from a drake Scaup and a surprising variety of waders - including at least two Jack Snipe - for so early in the year.

                       At least two Jack Snipe were seen during the freezing spell pic @ Elliott1758817

         The traditional scramble to maximise the list on New Year's Day saw 64 species recorded, one less than in 2023. But after this lacklustre start, additional species kept coming right to the end of the month to take January total to a very creditable 83 which is nine more than in 2022 and ten more than in 2021.   

         Our Barnacle Geese flock arrived back from Cheshunt on the 16th when 16 were counted roosting on No  5. They continued to be seen regularly for the rest of the month. Shelduck numbers built slowly with a maximum count of six. The freezing spell mid-month saw a very high winter count of 115 Shoveler on the 18th. 

                              The cold snap encouraged Wigeon to visit this January pic  @MLP

       For some inexplicable reason, Wigeon - usually a regular winter visitor - gave the Wetlands a miss last January with the first record not until June. There was no such problem this month with two on the 5th, three on the 8th, seven on the 9th, five next day and a single on the 30th. It is also a mystery why Red-crested Pochard - regular, for example, on the small boating lake in nearby Finsbury Park - is such a rare visitor to the Wetlands. The one-day drake CF found on High Maynard on the 29th was the first since 2021.

                            Drake Red-crested Pochard (above) and Greater Scaup pics @Chris_Farthing 

               The arrival of a drake Scaup on No 4 on the 31st again raised hopes the regular wintering bird had returned only for it to disappear again after a two-day stay. Duck, indeed bird, of the month ,however, was the first Long-tailed Duck since the very unseasonal pair in June 2018. Found by SH on No 4 on the afternoon of the 5th it showed exceptionally well to all those not hampered by work or school but had disappeared by next morning.                                  
                            
                      The Long-tailed Duck provided wonderful views pic @ HarringayBirder
                
        
         Goldeneye numbers remain low. Getting an accurate count was challenging as they moved not only between reservoirs but also - given the changing number of males and females -  between different sites in the Lee Valley but numbers never passed five in a day. Goosander are now becoming irregular and often brief visitors from the larger reservoirs to the north. The first was seen flying over on the 6th with records on six other days and a maximum count of two on the 12th and 19th. 

                                    A displaying drake Goosander on Lockwood pic @MLP

         The first Red Kite of the year passed over low on the 6th but otherwise birds of prey were scarce. Peregrines seemed to prefer the pylons on Walthamstow Marsh although they can be found unusually perching on the trees on the sheltered east side of No 1 island when the wind is blowing strongly from the west. 

              A Red Kite passing low over the Wetlands pic @HarringayBirder   

         It was an exceptional month for waders with eight species recorded in January, compared to just two last year. They included the long-staying Oystercatcher, which was still in residence on the 7th but disappeared as soon as the frost made feeding on the grass verges difficult. The cold snap led to the usual movement of Lapwing with 16 on the 9th, two next day, 73 on the 11th including a flock of 47, nine on 18th and two on the 20th. It may also explain why three different Dunlin - another bird not recorded at all last winter - were seen on the 11th, 16th and 20th. 

                  

                                    Three different Dunlin were seen this month pic @Elliott1758817

                Until very recently, Jack Snipe was considered a rare bird at the Wetlands but records have become more regular in the last couple of years. This trend has continued with at least two - and probably several more - seen in January. The freezing conditions displaced birds to the reservoirs on the 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th with records from the wild flower meadow, No 4, High Maynard, Lockwood and, most regularly, East Warwick. In contrast, Common Snipe seem if anything scarcer. Although they were seen regularly after the first record on the 7th, there was not the big build-up in numbers often seen in icy conditions in the past. 

                              Jack Snipe hiding on Lockwood and Green Sandpiper pics @Callahanbirder

  


         The wintering Common Sandpiper was seen throughout the month with two recorded on the 16th. There was also a better than usual showing from Green Sandpipers with two on the 8th and singles on the 17th, 20th and 21st. A Redshank which landed briefly on Lockwood made it a five wader day on the 17th. 

        A Caspian Gull found on High Maynard by SD on the 20th, prompted the traditional blizzard of social media messages. It fortunately hung around -  usually on High Maynard - until the 25th to allow the non-larophiles to try to see its ID features for themselves. It seems possible from photographs that there may even have been a second bird on the 23rd.   

                               The Caspian Gull which launched a thousand messages pic @Elliott1758817

          While the cold snap encouraged a wide range of ducks and waders to visit, it was disappointing for smaller birds. Only a Skylark on the 9th and a Siskin next day were at all out-of-the-ordinary. Far from there being a cold weather movement of winter thrushes there were fewer Fieldfare than last year with just the odd bird seen although a flock of up to 20 Redwing could be seen feeding on the berries by the Engine House throughout the month. At least two Stonechats continued to winter around the reed-beds on the Warwicks where the occasional Meadow Pipit also appeared.   

DB @porthkillier 


                                                                



Thursday 11 January 2024

Reservoir Logs - December 2023 round-up

                                         The Oystercatcher was rarely seen without a muddy bill pic @Elliott81758817

        A long-staying Oystercatcher - an unusual winter record in London - was the highlight of a very dull month at the Wetlands. December also brought a small cold-weather passage of Wigeon and Lapwing but it was the second consecutive month with no new birds added to the year list.

     It means the total for 2023 was stuck on 143 -  one above last year and the same as in 2018 and 2021.The most surprising omissions were Red-crested Pochard, for the second year running, Brent Goose and Sandwich Tern which might be explained by the disastrous impact of avian flu on breeding numbers. Bird of the year was the Alpine Swift which hung around for two days to allow many people to enjoy it, although honourable mentions must go to the extraordinary flock of 11 Spoonbills, the elusive Little Owls and Iceland Gull.    

Barnacle Geese flying in for one of their regular visits pic @Chris_Farthing
                  
      The Barnacle Goose flock made occasional visits to the Wetlands with 15 seen on 8th, 10th and 24th with 16 on the 22nd. Cold weather at the beginning of the month saw nine Wigeon arrive on the 2nd with five more on the 18th. Goldeneye numbers remained low with up to four scattered around the reservoirs throughout the month while Goosander were again scarce with fly-overs on the 5th and 10th before a drake settled for a few hours on No 2 on the 13th.

                                                                                      Wigeon were seen in good numbers early in the month pic @Elliott81758817  

       Four species of wader were seen this month. An Oystercatcher found on the 3rd was an unusual enough record given that they routinely do not return to London even on the Thames at Rainham until late January. But for it to stay throughout the month, largely around No 5 was exceptional. Even a near-death experience at the hands of a Peregrine - forcing it to dive into the water to escape - did not encourage it to move on,.

                                            The Oystercatcher became tamer the longer it stayed pic @MLP 

        A movement  of Lapwing in cold spells is now expected with eight on the 1st and five more next day. Two Common Sandpipers were seen until mid-month with at least one staying into 2024. Green Sandpipers, which seem to be becoming less regular, were recorded on the 2nd and 4th. 

                               Lapwing, like Wigeon, can be expected in cold weather pic @Elliott81758817                                                  
            In what has been a good year for scarcer big gulls, the final Caspian Gull of the year was picked out by RE on the 18th while DC found two Yellow-legged Gulls on the 10th. Single Red Kites were seen on the 1st and 13th. Small numbers of winter thrushes continued to be seen with 15 Redwing feeding on berries near the Engine House on the 8th and six Fieldfare flying over on the 22nd. Up to three Stonechats are wintering. 

                                 A 1W Caspian Gull, an unusually regular visitor this year  pic @wheresrhys
                            

DB @porthkillier






Sunday 3 December 2023

Reservoir Logs - November 2023 round-up

                                     An inquisitive Short-eared Owl circled Lockwood pics @Elliott81758817

       November saw a nice range of scarcities including the second Pintail and third and fourth Woodcocks of the year. There was also an early Scaup, another Short-eared Owl, Turnstone and an unusual run of Dunlin. But the lack of a genuine rarity, which is often a feature of November, meant it was the first month since December 2021 without a new bird being added to the year list. It means the annual total is stuck on 143, still five ahead of last year but the gap is closing.  

                                The year’s second Pintail spent the day on East Warwick pic @Callahanbirder

       After their post-breeding visit to the coast, the first Shelduck normally arrives back in November but this year's first return on the 12th was the earliest in recent years. Two Wigeon were seen on the 13th with another pair on the 17th. Having waited two years for a Pintail to turn up again at the reservoirs, it was always on the cards that a second would arrive just weeks later with a drake this time on East Warwick on the 16th.  

                                           A drake Scaup made a brief appearance on No 4 pic @IvorHewstone 

              The finding of a drake Scaup on the 23rd by DW raised hopes that the regular winterer may have returned particularly as it appeared, as in the past, in the north-west corner of No 4 and, as usual, fell fast asleep. But hopes were dashed when no sign could be found next day. The first Goldeneye - an immature drake - arrived on the 3rd but it wasn't until the 18th when more than one bird was seen with two drakes and a female. The three birds - the same number as last November - stayed until the end of the month. Goosander are becoming much more irregular at the Wetlands with no sighting until a drake on the 26th and 28th. The escaped Ringed Teal, howeverclearly enjoyed their one day visit to the reservoirs last month as two males returned on the 14th, 15th and 18th.            

                                                            Two drake Goldeneye arrived mid-month pic @MLP

      The wide shingle edges on Lockwood helped make it a much better November than normal for waders. It was particularly attractive to Dunlin with perhaps as many as five birds this month. Singles were seen on the 16th, a different bird on 17th, on the 19th and two on the 21st. A tame Turnstone was also on Lockwood on the 24th with Redshank on the 5th & 6th and another on the 27th,. . 

                        Turnstone (above) pic @Callahanbirder and Dunlin pic @Chris_Farthing 

         Lapwing were less choosy with both Lockwood and East Warwick providing resting places with four on the 17th, a single on the 21st and seven next day. CF had the third & fourth Woodcock of the year - an unusually high number - with the first near the Dragonfly pond on the 17th with another off the side of Lockwood on the 22nd. Snipe in contrast, seemed either less common or more elusive than normal with only a handful of records. Common Sandpipers continued to be seen with two until the end of the month.                  

                                         One of two Redshank on Lockwood this month pic @HarringayBirder

        November was never likely to match October for scarcer gulls but both Yellow-legged on the 24th and Caspian on the 18th were seen. Common Gulls built up with a count of 52 just on the south end of West Warwick, their favourite haunt, on the 26th. Checking colour-rings this month has revealed that among the Black-headed Gulls wintering are birds from both Slovakia and Poland. 

    Single Red Kites were seen on the 5th and 6th with a Common Buzzard over on the 6th as well. In an Autumn which has seen a major influx of Short-eared Owls into the country, the reservoirs had its third with one showing particularly well over Lockwood on the 12th. 

       Skylarks were seen flying over on four days while male Blackcaps were seen on the 9th and 20th. Winter thrush numbers were low but there were 15 Fieldfare on the 11th with small numbers of this species and Redwing feeding around the reservoirs' berry bushes. Up to three Stonechats continue to winter while another Rock Pipit turned up on Lockwood on the 12th. A small flock of up to eight Siskins were seen regularly around the site this month with single Lesser Redpoll on the 6th and 24th. 

                         The third Rock Pipit of the autumn spent the day on Lockwood  pic @porthkillier


DB @porthkillier

Saturday 11 November 2023

Reservoir Logs - October 2023 round-up

                         The first Scoters of the year spent a day at the Wetlands pic @Chris_Farthing

       October saw five species added to the Wetland's year list with three smart drake Common Scoter and a Pintail - both the first for two years - as well as a Grey Plover the highlights. Lesser Redpoll and a heard-only Firecrest were the other additions in a month which also saw a run of scarcer gulls, a late Arctic Tern, Short-eared Owl and a day count of 1000 migrating Redwing

                            A Short-eared Owl visited on the same date as last year pic @Callahanbirder

        The five additions take the year list at the reservoirs to 143 - eight ahead of last year and just one behind's 2020's record high. Red-crested Pochard, which gave the Wetlands a miss last year as well, and Brent Goose are the only obvious gaps so adding new species is going to be hard.

          Three Shelduck made an unseasonal visit on the 18th and a Garganey was found on East Warwick on the 3rd. After being very scarce so far this year, Wigeon returned to form with records on at least seven days with five on the 24th and seven on the 18th. The first Pintail for two years was a female-type found by RE hiding among the Shoveler on No 5 on the 9th.    
           
                           The Scoter eventually settled on East Warwick (pic @Elliott81758817)                           
 
          Common Scoter, like Pintail, are nearly annual visitors to the Wetlands but again none were seen in 2022. This year looked likely to be blank as well until CF found three drakes on Lockwood on the 12th. They were flighty at first but settled down on East Warwick for the day. CF also found three Ringed Teal on No 5 on the 27th but, while very attractive ducks, they seem much more likely to have escaped from a wildfowl collection than flown from their natural home in South America. Unusually, neither the first Goldeneye or Goosander of the winter had arrived by the month's end.  

                  Two of the three Ringed Teal which escaped to the Wetlands pic @ Chris_Farthing 

      After the departure of the wintering Great Egret, the species has been scarce with DC's fly-over on the 14th only the fourth of the year. The only record of Red Kite was on the 3rd but Buzzards were seen on at least four days including a year-high count of six in the air together on the 9th - one of several good days this month for migrants. 

       October is usually light on waders but this year bucked the trend with no less than nine species  compared to just four in 2022. Single Lapwing was seen on the 18th and 27th with two on both the 17th  & 24th. Grey Plover is a very scarce visitor with no records since 2018 before the big freeze last December saw one on Lockwood so DC's record of one flying north over Lockwood on the 2nd was the wader highlight of the month. Black-tailed Godwits are usually much more regular but the four going south on the 12th were surprisingly only the second record of the year. The same date saw a Dunlin on Lockwood.  

      Migrant Snipe were resting on the reservoir banks on several days with two on the 9th but the Jack Snipe that dropped onto the shoreline of East Warwick on the 28th was only the second of the year. The autumn's strong Common Sandpiper passage continued with birds throughout the month, Four were still present on the 24th - a fortnight later than the last bird last October - with two staying to the end of the month to suggest the Wetlands may have wintering birds again. In contrast, the only Green Sandpiper was on the 23rd and Redshank on Lockwood on the 26th. 

                  Up to four young Caspian Gulls have been seen this Autumn (pic @Callahanbirder)

      October now seems the best bet to catch up with scarcer gulls at the Wetlands. Photographs suggest there may have been three Caspian Gulls seen this month (and perhaps four over the Autumn) with 1Ws seen on the 19th, 21st, 22nd, 25th and 28th. The month also seems the best time to catch up with Yellow-legged Gulls at the reservoirs The first was an adult found on the 11th by CF remarkably on the same day and the same railings on High Maynard as last year. This was followed by a run of young birds with DC finding a 1W on the 14th, three on 21st - six days later than three were seen last year - with one remaining on the 24th.

                   Adult (pic @Chris_Farthing) and young Yellow-legged Gull  (pic @Callahanbirder)

  

       Late terns have always got a good chance of being Arctic Terns and that seems to be case of the bird photographed by MLP on the 20th. After a two-month stay in which it hardly ever showed, the Little Owl was last heard on the 2nd. The third Short-eared Owl was on the 22nd over Lockwood - again on exactly the same date as last year. 

                           This tern, though to be a young Arctic, made a brief stop (pic @MLP )

      October is also a good month for Jackdaw passage and although numbers did not run into the hundreds as they did in 2019, 54 were seen on the 16th and 42 on 9th with smaller numbers both over and on the reservoirs on other days. Skylark movement was also stronger than last year when only five were seen all month. Birds were recorded on at least six days with three on both the 8th & 24th.                         

      Single Swallows,  which were not seen in October last year, were recorded on the 3rd, 9th and 20th with a late Reed Warbler as well on the 2nd.  Blackcaps are not regular winterers at the reservoirs so the male seen on the 31st may again be a late migrant. The first Firecrest of the year was heard at the north end of Lockwood on the 22nd by DC and was still there, and still hidden, next day. 

     Fieldfare passage, just like last year, was light with just the odd bird over or on the reservoirs until a flock of 50 on the 24th. This was not the case with Redwing although movement was crammed into two days. Over 60 were seen on the 8th before an estimated 1000-plus flew over next day - twice the highest daily count last year. 

                          The rocky shorelines attracted two Rock Pipits (pic @Chris_Farthing)

      A Black Redstart made a brief appearance on the 27th. No Wheatears were seen last October (although like Swallow a winter bird later turned up) but this year there was a single on the 16th, two for the next two days with one remaining until the 23rd. Up to four Stonechats were around the reservoirs usually on West Warwick. 

     The rocky shorelines attracted Rock Pipits on Lockwood on the 15th and No 5 on the 27th. The first Lesser Redpoll of the year was at the north end of Lockwood on the 8th with two more on the 12th. There was a flurry of Siskins with birds on five days with 15 in several small flocks on the 25th the highest count. 

DB @porthkillier



Friday 13 October 2023

Reservoir Logs - September 2023 round-up


                                       The wonderful sight of 11 Spoonbills over the Wetlands pic @sjnewton
                                    
       The spectacular sight of 11 Spoonbills over the Wetlands was the undoubted highlight of September. A long-staying Caspian Gull, two Garganey, the second Short-eared Owl of the year and a good variety of waders and migrant land-birds were also features of the month.

                                                                                                                                        

                                        This distinctive 1W Caspian Gull took up residence pic @Chris_Farthing

          The Spoonbills and Caspian Gull take the year list so far to 138 - nine ahead of last year but still one behind 2021. Pintail, Scoter and Red-crested Pochard remain the most obvious gaps to be filled before the end of December although the first two have already been seen as this is written in mid-October.  One or two that got away were the pair of Arctic Skuas - a species not definitely recorded since 1996 - seen going south over Walthamstow Marsh on the 2nd which almost certainly flew over the reservoirs. 

         A flock of 14 Barnacle Geese made a flying visit on the 21st. The young Shelduck remained on No 3 until at least the 16th although now it had fledged, it could go missing for several days.  The second Garganey of the year was found by CF on Lockwood on the 15th with DW discovering another on the 28th & 29th. More surprising was that September also saw only the second Wigeon of the year on the 11th - nine days later than the first autumn record last year - with three more arriving on the 25th. 

      Shoveler numbers built to around 75 in the middle of the month although only 36 remained for the site survey on the 28th. The count also recorded 1829 Tufted Ducks as well as 50 Little Grebes and 114 Great Crested.  

                          The second Garganey of the year spent a day on Lockwood pic @Chris_Farthing                                                                                

        As the breeding population expands in England, Spoonbill has become a more regular rarity at the reservoirs with a pair even staying for a few days in 2020. But the 11 seen flying south by @HB on the 23rd may well have beaten the combined total of birds ever recorded before. 

                                              A close-up of part of the amazing Spoonbill flock pic @sjnewton

      Although this flock passed without stopping, the Little Egret colony has proved one of the attractions for visiting herons like the 2020 Spoonbills and last month’s Cattle Egret. It also provides a draw for home-grown Little Egrets with a bird rung as a nestling in 2018 returning this month after spending the previous five years wandering around North Yorkshire.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                

                                                    It has been a good year for Turnstone pic @Chris_Farthing

          Eight species of waders - the same as last year - were seen this month. The only Lapwing was on the 8th which was the same date that a tame Turnstone was found on the 4/5 causeway which stayed around until the 10th. The sole Dunlin, which have been scarcer than usual this year, was on the 19th. 

                                       The sole Dunlin was a tame bird on Lockwood pic @EugeneDH_Bass                                   

        The first Common Snipe of the autumn was late with none until the 8th when returning birds are often seen in August. But Common Sandpiper passage remained exceptionally strong throughout the month with 16 counted on both the 13th & 15th and still 12 passing through on the 29th when there were just two last year.  The year before no Common Sandpipers were seen after the 13th and the peak September count was just four. But the strong passage of Common Sandpipers was the exception. There just two records of Greenshank on the 2nd and 14th and Green Sandpiper on the 14th and 25th while the only Redshank was on the 1st.  

                        The Caspian Gull (above @Elliott81758817) and @Callahanbirder found plenty to eat  

     A 1W Yellow-legged Gull was seen on the 1st but was eclipsed by the distinctive 1W Caspian Gull found by CF on the No 4 causeway on the 6th. It stayed around until at least the 21st as it tucked in to dead trout. Three Common Terns - including the late fledging young from East Warwick - were still on the south side on the 6th with the last adult seen on the 8th, This was six days earlier than the final departing birds in 2022 but over a week later than the last birds the year before.

      The only record of Red Kite was on the 22nd but Hobby was seen on eight days compared to six last year and just a single record in 2021. Two were seen on the 19th with the last record on the 25th. After a month when the only sign that at least one Little Owl was still in residence was the very occasional call, one bird decided to show itself on the south west side of No 2 island on the 23rd. The second Short-eared Owl of the year was mobbed by crows north of Lockwood on the 25th.

       Swifts seem to have departed early with the last two on the 1st, eight days earlier than last year. It was the same with House Martins with the final birds seen on the 20th while Swallows remained very scarce throughout the month. The last Sand Martins were four on the 24th.

    Reed Warblers were still passing through until at least the 30th when one was caught - six days later than the last record in 2022 - with the final Sedge Warbler on the 18th, six days earlier. Garden Warbler continued their good showing this autumn with records on the 14th & 15th with the final Common Whitethroat on the 18th (20th), Lesser Whitethroat on the 19th (21st) and Willow Warbler on the 18th (29th).  

                    The first Spotted Flycatcher to be rung at the Wetlands  pic @Elliott81758817

      Spotted Flycatcher were seen on just two days with two - including the first ever rung at the Wetlands - on the 2nd and another on the 22nd. This compares with records on five days last year with the final bird on the 24th. Whinchat were even scarcer with the only record on the 8th compared to five days in 2022. Stonechat continue to be reliable with the first bird of the autumn on the 16th, just one day later than last year. After a bumper Spring for Common Redstarts there have unusually been no records this autumn but the second Black Redstart was found on the east of High Maynard by DW on the 27th and stayed until the 29th. 

                                               A Black Redstart stayed for three days pic @ Chris_Farthing     

          Wheatears were seen until the end of the month but the peak count was only three on the 1st and 6th compared to six last year. It looked as if the autumn was going to pass without a single Yellow Wagtail  on the ground with the only record until late in the month a fly-over on the 2nd. But a young bird took a liking to Lockwood and stayed for five days from the 25th with a second briefly on the 26th. Meadow Pipit passage began with seven on the 3rd, a week earlier than the first multiple records last year. The first Siskin of the autumn was a single bird on the 10th. 

                               A juvenile Yellow Wagtail stayed for five days pic @Chris_Farthing 


DB @porthkillier



                   


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






Reservoir Logs - January 2024 round-up

                                       A Long-tailed Duck dropped onto No 4 for the afternoon pic @IvorHewstone          The first Long-tail...