Saturday, 28 August 2010

Dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner.....Dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner....

Bats, man!

For years I have been promising myself that I would do a Bat walk one of these days, Friday was that day. I duly arrived with spouse, friend and friend's nine year old son at the Waterworks N.R. and was greeted by the very friendly Lea Valley staff. The ranger started off her talk by apologising that she was not a Bat expert (my heart sank a little). There was a quite interesting talk about the Lea Valley Park (heart sank a little lower), then we got around to the Bats (heart rising) apparently we would possibly only see 2 species (falling) these were Pipistrelle, species unknown! and Daubenton's (heart definitely rising again).

We waited until dusk, were issued with Bat detectors, (immediately claimed by 9 year old), and off we went into the dark.

The Bat detectors were picking up various calls, ours stated 'Bat' on the readout which unfortunately meant low battery rather than an actual Bat. I got the Pip, in fact everyone got the Pip, we heard them flying, we heard them feeding, we even caught glimpses of them.

Later we tried for the Daubs over the Lea but they didn't want to play ball.

Was it fun? Yes, everyone seemed to enjoy it, even your curmudgeonly blogger! Would I do it again? Nah! Should you do it? Probably. It is quite nice being out with an enthusiastic crowd venturing into the night without fear of mugging, and seeing people, who had possibly never seen a Bat before, enthuse about wildlife.

Now I think I need to promise myself to do a Bat walk with someone who knows whats what and where we might actually see some Bats.

As for the thorny question of 'do Bats get tangled in your hair?' I checked out the other half and the answer is, reassuringly, not.


On this day: 27 08 83 Walthamstow Wind NW1 calm and hot: 1 juvenile Little Grebe on High Maynard also 1 Kingfisher seen twice. 1 juvenile Cuckoo on Lockwood, moulting into adult plumage. (?) 1 Greenshank heard flying South over Lockwood. 1 Snipe on No.3 Many Yellow Wagtails and a few Common Sandpipers.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Get here while you can!

I rang Pete on Sunday (this is the lay-zee-birda method of working the patch) to find out what he had been seeing lately, as Lol may have mentioned he and I have been working silly hours recently and therefore neglecting Walthamstow. It turned out that Pete had also not been doing his regular tours of the place but was actually on the Lockwood as I spoke to him. I asked if he had seen any decent Waders, it turned out he hadn’t even seen any indecent Waders, I then asked if he had seen any Whinchats on his travels, he replied that the Lockwood was not the best bit of habitat on the patch for them and anyway they were more frequently seen in September. I thanked him and wished him well.

Ten minutes later I received Pete’s text telling me he had got a Whinchat on the Lockwood, I thanked him profusely and went back to sleep, it had been a long week! Forty minutes later I was entering the reservoirs, me and the rest of the population of East London. I have never seen so many people on the complex and this is before it is made a Country Park and opened up to every Dog walker in the Greater London area!

There were great parties of walkers, photographers, fisherman and a number of Birders too. I have never been in favour of restricted access sites, especially those restricted to me, so I cannot really complain but if it carries on at this rate there will be precious few birds to see much after dawn I would think.

I bumped in to Lol up on the bank and we wandered North until we eventually spotted the Whinchat, unfortunately it spotted us seconds before and flew up into a Willow on the High Maynard before disappearing whilst I fiddled with my cameraphone. The other Birders who arrived within moments sadly missed it.

It really was a case of get it while you can. I suspect this might be the way of things to come, either that or some very early morning rises.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Goodness gracious three...

A trio of migrant goodies over this weekend starting on Sat pm when a succession of afternoon squally showers brought down a number of passage gulls, terns & waders at different sites across the capital. Noticing a fair bit of activity over Lockwood, a scan from the comfort - and shelter - of my loft was rewarded this time with a beautifully marked juvenile Little Gull (my first this year); It didn't linger for long though, and I assume it went South.
Amongst the adult & juvenile Common Terns and a steady stream of Sand Martins (migrants or locals I wonder?) was a paler, more slender-looking youngster with a clearly shorter, all dark bill - an Arctic Tern which hung around for half an hour or so then appeared to go North towards the Banbury.
Sunday was a much sunnier, drier affair with a promising North-Easterly breeze. Around 11.30 I was alerted by PW down on the Lockwood, to the presence of a juv Black Tern, our first on the patch this year. Good views were obtained again from the loft ('armchair birding' at it's best!). Paul later had another BT but I failed to get onto that one...A rather nice little assortment then, but with both PW & I away working a lot at the moment, one can only imagine the stuff that's passing through unnoticed...
Other recent sightings include a juv Black-necked Grebe on the Lockwood & Garden Warbler by the allotments on 7th(me), and adult & juv Dunlin on the Lockwood Friday 13th (Gavin Coultrip).
Lol Bodini