Monday, 21 June 2010

Aint no time for those summer time blues

A judiciously timed email from Lol had alerted me to the presence, all day, of a couple of Redshank in the North-west corner of the Lockwood. So after dinner I trundled up there for a look and there they were, a welcome year tick for the patch. Someone had written Curlew (a strangely scarce bird in the Lea Valley, Whimbrel is probably the commoner species) in the book over the weekend at the fishing Lodge so that’s it, the Waders are returning!

It’s the first day of summer but for the birder it’s the beginning of Autumn, non-breeding, post-breeding or failed-breeding Waders are on their way South. The June lull is officially over. Actually the June lull is fairly brief as the laggards are still moving North at the start of the month, it just feels quiet I guess as most of the rest our migrants have been in for a while. (I may regret this official declaration if I don’t get another patch year tick until the end of August).

The rest of the evening saw a lot of Little Egret activity, tooing and froing from their breeding islands and also a brood of Shelduck on No.3, very sweet, fluffy grey and white. The low evening sunshine picked out a large loafing group of Pochard and Tufted Duck, mostly males, beautiful colours. It certainly chased those blues away.


Friday, 18 June 2010

Nothing to see here

After Wednesday's audacious attempt at border raiding (trying to hear the Tottenham Common Rosefinch from within the Walthamstow patch boundaries) was foiled, mainly by the abscence of the bird itself, enthusiasm was mustered, by myself and Lol to go out over the marsh and find Walthamstow's very own rare migrant.....

.....there were none (in fact nothing) on the Horse field, yes there were plenty of Swifts over the filter beds but none of them remotely Pacific, a half a dozen Chiffchaffs, now getting ready for a second brood, sang across the marsh but none had an Iberian accent, a Heron fished in the Lea amongst the large Carp, but it was not the least bit Purple. Ahh well we tried. Something beckoned us to head for a more tranquil spot and see what we could turn up there.

The Dove of peace lied! (well Woodpigeon with twig) The Waterworks N.R. was not a haven of respite and rarities, it was full of year 7 pupils on a 'nature walk'. Apparently they had been told specifically not to stand on the benches and slam the hide flaps. How did we know? Because we heard them being reminded after they had done it of course! The/a Cetti's Warbler was still there, the usual suspects were probably breeding, Reed Warblers, Pochard, Little Grebe etc but nothing scarce to get the juices flowing.

Surprisingly few Insects around too, the only Butterflies were a couple of Red Admirals and Small Whites and no Dragonflies at all. The best show really was the plant life, Honeysuckle was absolutely abundant and fragrant too, I don't remember it ever being so plentiful on the marsh. In fact all the plants looked very lush indeed and fittingly so for nearly high summer. Bee Orchids have been discovered on the Waterworks, which is nice, or will be in a month. Whoever discovered them needs a medal as the only sign at present is about 1mm of green leaf, I think that pretty well sums up this blogs title.

Rosy shenanigans

Mention should be made here in honour of another exceptional local find this past week 'just across the water' (the river Lea that is) on Tottenham Marshes of a singing 1st summer male Common Rosefinch. It was found last Sunday morning (13th) by members of the Tottenham Marshes survey group. During it's 3-day stay (and it may have been there longer of course), the bird - the first (twitchable) in London since 1986! - proved extremely elusive, spending most of it's time singing from thick vegetation near the picnic area on Clendish Marsh by the Stonebridge Lock. I myself only managed 3 all-too-brief flight views in close to 6 hours of watching; a few others were lucky enough to see it perched, for a mere few seconds.
Alas the Rosefinch, (or more aptly named by PW 'Brownfinch') - who's rather plaintive 5-whistle song recalled the words: 'pleased to, pleased to meet you' - never ventured across the great divide that is the Lea navigation, and consequently never made it onto the Walthamstow reservoirs patch list (although it is on my personal one as I've always included Tottenham marshes as part of my patch, he said smugly ;o)...
Like this year's earlier Dusky Warbler, heaven knows when or if another member of the species will ever grace our humble patch, and I'm just glad I saw it at all.

(Record shot 'phonescoped' at 300m by Neville Smith)