Saturday, 30 October 2010

All things Green (with envy?)

A brief vizmigging session this morning resulted in the first 2 Jackdaws from the house this autumn, a few Mistle Thrushes, although they could be local wintering birds, some Redwings and quite a few Finches, mostly Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch but others too high or distant to specify also about 100 Woodpigeons in two flocks. Most of this stuff was going between North- and South-west.

The building site behind the house looks seriously close to finishing up, it is a mystery to me how much sawing of concrete with a circular saw is necessary in modern building techniques! They will no doubt be gone just as migration finishes for the year.

Not since Icarus sat by the letter box have Waxwings been so eagerly anticipated but looks like I will have to wait a bit longer for that particular house tick. Every 5-10 years we have a Waxwing influx and every 5-10 years I think this is my big chance. My wife came in at lunchtime and said that she had flushed some birds out of the Cotoneaster at the front of the house as she came in, I quizzed her but she reckoned they were Pigeons, It’s probably the only bird she can identify so I relaxed, friends are bemused as to how little knowledge she has picked up being married to a birder for 33 years, she merely replies that I do not know how to work the washing machine....touché!

A walk around the Lockwood later involved some serious shower dodging, I had just seen 5 Green Sandpipers in the overflow channel to the North-west when the heavens opened, for some reason they decided that would be a good time to have a fly around. As the 5 flew back to the channel I thought I heard another to the West. I fiddled around trying to get a photo once they had settled and was reasonably happy with the results (around 400m away with a camera phone) when the sixth bird dropped in....humph.

A female Goldeneye and a perched up Ring-necked Parakeet was probably the highlight on the South side of the complex.

Someone had written ‘Little Stint’ in the logbook at the Fishing Lodge so it will go down on the cumulative year list. I am not saying they were mistaken but I have not seen Little Stint on Walthamstow in over 40 years.......bitter/envious? moi?

A mystery has been solved involving some very weird calls emanating from the island on Number 2 reservoir this summer. I have a new bird calls ‘app’ which reveals that the ‘Donald Duck on Speed’ calls we were hearing are in fact the sound of a Little Egret breeding colony. Probably not a huge surprise really.

On this date: 30 10 82 Walthamstow 16:00-17:00 Dull, overcast; This late afternoon visit in fading light produced c200 Shoveler and other regulars, also 1 Grey Heron being mobbed by Black-headed Gulls in flight and tumbling considerable distances to escape. Also seen 3 separate Short-eared Owls, disturbed whilst resting on bank, seen at close range, dark carpal patch, sandy primary coverts and strongly barred tail. These also mobbed before settling.

30 10 90 At Walthamstow 1 female Pintail and the same male Sparrowhawk as seen a couple of weeks ago, also quite a few Meadow Pipits.


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

(B) ramblings

There are Waxwings around, some were in Chigwell on Monday, Jono called me yesterday, as I arrived at work, to say some had just flown over his house, Mark texted me to say some had flown over Stoke Newington this afternoon.

It was not that I wasn't looking, today I spent a fair bit of time checking out every Starling that passed within range of the house. The only thing of note was a very brief White Wagtail which landed on the nearby factory roof. Anyway Mark's text (thanks) sent me back up to the back of the house for another look. He had said that they were going South-east but a quick check of the map meant that they would surely miss my house....bit of a long shot anyway, but I digress. As I scanned the horizon a distant flock of 16 Finches bounded past. They were not Chaff/Green/Gold Finches so they were something good, if I had to put money on them I would have said Brambling.

I had intended to go over to Walthamstow this morning/afternoon but it was after 15:30 before I got out. As I walked down Coppermill Lane and looked over No.5 reservoir I clapped eyes on a flock of a dozen or so Finches on the large island that looked 'interesting' the scope was deployed and lo, they were Brambling. I wonder if they were the same ones? A patch year tick after missing one/some on the Horse field last winter.

A flyover Redpoll sp. on the marsh was also good. A few Tit flocks refused to give up any 'scarce' let alone 'rare.'

I have seen or heard Ring-necked Parakeets in a few places on the patch this year but assumed they were just a few wandering birds but today I had Ring-necked Parakeet near No.5 reservoir, by the Ice Rink and on the Pitch'n'Putt course. I think they are here in strength now. (still yet to see one from the house, heard only tick).


Saturday, 23 October 2010

Out, for a Duck

I was supposed to meet up with Lol for a walk around Walthamstow but he whimped out, Man Flu or some such excuse! I wasn't exactly feeling tip top either with a bit of a cold but decided to drag myself out rather than spend all afternoon in front of the T.V. or computer.

The brisk wind seemed to be keeping most Passerines well down, either that or there weren't any.

A Peregrine was working low over Leyton Marsh, I don't see them down this end so much so it was a happy sighting. On the Waterworks N.R. there were 14 Teal, probably more hidden in cover, so it seems that Ducks are building up. At first there was no sign of the recent Wigeon but, after a quick bit of fence hopping, I saw them but now there are five. No Snipe visible but they will be tucked in somewhere.

The fresh air was welcome, given my blocked tubes, but it was a lot of effort for one more Duck.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

You can't always get what you want.....

.....but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need, so sang that wise old birder Mick Jagger.

I wanted a lifer, it will be a year on Saturday since my last and this is the longest I have ever been between ticks. Thanks for the sympathy, I know you feel my pain. Walthamstow was probably not going to deliver what I wanted but maybe I would get something out of a visit.

The Waterworks N.R. had a small Tit flock working bushes near the entrance which I watched for a while and out popped a female Blackcap and, more likely coincidentally, a Fieldfare, my first of the Autumn. A couple of Goldfinches flew over and then as quick as Jumpin Jack Flash (Enough with the Rolling Stones already!) a Siskin flew over calling. It was just what I needed a patch year tick.

The 4 Wigeon are still present on one of the beds also 2 Snipe, lets hope they continue to build in numbers and bring a Jack with them.

Another Tit flock contained a couple of Goldcrests, its nice to see them back after a very thin Autumn and Winter last year. There were a couple more on the marsh and also 3 Redwings. Six Linnets were on the Horse field.

I was nearing the end of a very pleasant walk when I recieved a text from Mark at Stoke Newington, in which direction I had been looking five minutes earlier. "Likely Honey Buzzard North 15 minutes ago" Can I get no satisfaction?


Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Visible Migration at its best this morning (Sunday 17th). I had not long read a pager message telling of 11 Little Egrets seen flying North-west over Hillfield Park Reservoir at 08:41 when I picked up, what was surely, the same flock of Little Egrets, viewed from the house, flying North-north-east over Walthamstow at 09:15. As it later transpired they actually flew South-east over Hillfield and must have done the 10 miles or so in 24 minutes. Even more amazingly it seems they had been seen East of Wilstone Reservoir at about 08:00 so must have covered the first 15 miles in about 40 minutes. Large flocks of Little Egrets are not exactly common inland and the coincidence of such a random number makes me believe they were all the same. Perhaps they were headed for the Thames estuary for the winter. I wonder where they came from.

As well as three observers being in the right place at the right time to witness this one was even more fortunate to have his camera ready too.

Thanks to Tony Blake for the photograph of them passing Hillfield.


Friday, 15 October 2010

There be Monsters!

Back on the patch again after a visit to Scilly and full of expectation, well hope really, a lot of migration has been going on over the last week or so and Walthamstow should be sharing in the bounty. Rock Pipit (no doubt Scandinavian), Firecrest, Siskin, Brambling, Jackdaw and the like have all been seen in recent days.

The first sighting on the North side of the complex was somewhat alarming! A poster warning of an invasive species.

Whatever next Vampire Trout, Were Rabbits, Zombie Geese?

The next sighting was quite impressive a dead Tree liberally coated with enormous Bracket Fungi (Monster Mushrooms?) My wife tells me that there is a plague of Fungi about at the moment, there certainly seems to be more about and of many different species that’s for sure.

The Lockwood delivered around 20 Meadow Pipits and 4 Egyptian Geese also around 40 Teal, now building up in numbers and the first Goldeneye of the Winter (Winter!) Also 1 Wheatear which promptly flew off and landed in a Tree on the Low Maynard, do they do that? The best of the rest were 3-4 Green Sandpipers and a Snipe in the overflow channel.

On this date: 15 10 00 25+ ‘alba’ wagtails in Seymour Park, quite a few of which White Wagtails, 20+ Meadow Pipits on Walthamstow Marsh and 3+ Stonechats.


Saturday, 2 October 2010

Saving the best to last

The early morning watch from the garden was slightly better today, a few Meadow Pipits, Mistle Thrush, a couple of Finches and then, a quiet ‘tlooeet’, I searched the sky and found four, quickly disappearing birds, at least a couple of which looked a bit short-tailed and undulating in flight. If I had had another call or seen them a few seconds earlier I think they would have gone down as Woodlark...the highs and lows of viz-migging!

The bird of the day though must be Chiffchaff (compared to last week when bird of the day was Squirrel, millions of them) they seemed to be everywhere this afternoon as I walked across the Lammas fields and over to the Waterworks N.R. The male Cetti’s was heard to sing briefly, and there were Teal new in and, even better, 4 Wigeon which are scarce on the patch. The best was left to last however a fine male Ring Ouzel that just popped up in some bare branches and then dropped into some Brambles, I had been consciously looking for one, amongst other things, for a week or more, so it felt very good to finally connect. My 120th species for the patch this year (Patch as a whole on 137), which is what I set as a personal target, I feel like I have earned my break on the Scillies and some real birding (sorry Walthamstowphiles;-))

On this date: 02 10 89 At Walthamstow 3 Stonechats, 1 Whinchat and a Wheatear on the Lockwood, also there a Slavonian Grebe and a ‘scandinavian’ Rock Pipit.