Monday, 28 February 2011

Site #3 Waterworks N.R.

What used to be the Essex Filter Beds has, in more recent years, been left to go fallow and has now been turned into a mini nature reserve. I suspect the primary motive is education and publicity, given that it is a very small site (If only it were 10 times bigger and 5 times quieter) but hey! I won’t knock it and will be grateful for small mercies.

It is probably best suited for Insect, Amphibian and Botanical life but does get its share of Avian treats. Access is via the Waterworks N.R and Golf Centre off Lea Bridge Rd, just across the bridge over the Lea overflow channel.

To the South is a large Grassy area bordered by low Trees. In the South-east corner are few old beds now overgrown with Willow and Birch (don’t quote me on the species, I’m not a Botanist) that has the feeling of a damp micro forest. They don’t seem to hold many species during the day but I think are popular as roosting sites for Corvids and Thrushes after closing time.

On the North side is a large ‘hide’ with slats overlooking half a dozen old beds that are in various states of succession, from relatively deep water to Grassy and quite overgrown. If you can get in there before the kids, you can get good views of Pochard, Tufted Duck and in Winter Teal, Shoveler and Gadwall. Little Grebes breed and are frequently heard trilling.

Winter usually brings Green Sandpiper and Snipe and very occasionally Jack Snipe, other Waders are very much rarer but have included Little Ringed Plover, Ruff and even Stone Curlew.

Warblers include Lesser Whitethroat, Reed and Sedge. Cetti’s is a recent colonist but this Winter may have done for them. Ring Ouzel is a scarce visitor and Yellow-browed Warbler, Guillemot and Red-backed Shrike have occurred so it is worth checking carefully during Spring and especially Autumn passage periods.

There is a Sand Martin ‘nesting tower’ and a Kingfisher bank though I am not sure if the Kingfishers know about the latter yet. The site also has good views of one of Walthamstow’s primary sites.....the sky. The vista is quite broad so always keep an eye on what is flying over, especially Raptors.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

(Winter) business as usual...

Paul & I did a walk around the Southern sector this pm in dull, drizzly but thankfully milder, conditions, and it was pretty much 'business as usual' on that section of the patch, neither of us seeing any new species for our respective year lists.
Most notable were 'Elsie' the long-staying female Eider, now in the area for exactly a month - quite why she favours the no.5 res, and what she feeds on is a mystery to me - plus the 2 female Scaup, also long-stayers (one with little white on the face), still present on the West Warwick.
Other than our current 'star' winter duck, there were single RN Parakeet, Goldcrest & Meadow Pipit, a few Redwings and a flock of c35 Fieldfare by the no.5, plus a Water Rail again heard responding to Paul's iphone by the bridge next to no.1 and 3 Little Egrets establishing themselves on their nesting island. This sign, together with a much greater number of birds in song, suggests that spring cant be too far off...

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Relocation, relocation

Apart from relocating the female Eider on No. 5 and the 2 Scaup on West Warwick, I saw my first Siskin of the year, a male, singing in Alders by the stream South of the East Warwick and at 16:50 found an adult Peregrine on the pylon at the South end of the Lockwood (ref no. VC6). After a short while it flew south to the pylon by the entrance (VC7) above the crow's nest. I don't know if this is one of the Edmonton pair, or one of Stoke Newington’s three.

Only 7 Shelduck today, but 19 Goldeneye, 76 Teal, 112 Gadwall and only 2 Shoveler. (Didn't have time to walk all the way around the Lockwood so may have missed some ducks.) c.60 Fieldfare at the South end of the East Warwick with 2 Redwing, also 4 Lapwing SW and 3 Green Sandpiper on No 4.

Pete L

Sunday, 13 February 2011

There's a drink in it

14th February is the anniversary of the last new addition to the Walthamstow patch list, Dusky Warbler. So I thought it would be fun to have a small competition to guess the next addition.

To dissuade some random person claiming a new species just for the kudos I have made one small prerequisite – it must be multi-observed. This doesn’t mean we (or more likely the LNHS rarities committee) won’t accept a single observer record; you just won’t get the prize; A bottle of wine to the person who guesses correctly. Of course the finder will get a bottle too!

Each person can submit three possibilities, you will probably want to check ‘The List’ to see what has already occurred, send your choices here:

I will collate the entries and post the results in a couple of weeks, in the event of a tie I will figure out what to do, for what it’s worth here are my top three:

Lesser Scaup
Temminck's Stint
Red-necked Phalarope


Sunday, 6 February 2011

From Nemesis to Revelation

With Lol this afternoon I suggested we checked the Banbury, a much neglected part of the patch. “You never know, the Red-breasted Merganser might be having a brief visit”, I said. It was.

My nemesis laid to rest, 21 years and a day since my last on patch (a drake on No.3). This female gets anywhere between the Lockwood and the Chingford reservoirs but today decided to grace us with its presence. Close by were 3 Goldeneye and 7 Goosander, 2 drakes.

I suggested we stray off patch to see if the Tottenham Waxwings were still around, a few side streets later and we were staring up at a Tree full of Waxwings, 64 was the highest number we could get, but they were not easy to count in the blustery conditions, they were easy to hear though, a constant trill filled the air.

A brainwave came to me that as we could see the pylon by the Lockwood from Tottenham perhaps we could see the Waxwings in the Tree from the Lockwood. Shameless poaching I know, but it seemed the only way to get Waxwing on the ‘seen from the patch’ list for the year. Needless to say after we went round to the Lockwood we couldn’t get the height needed to see our quarry. Does shame know no bounds though? Embrazened (yes I know the word doesn’t exist) by our poaching attempts we turned our ‘scopes to the South-west to see if we could have the Stoke Newington Peregrines but they too were a no show. Perhaps there is a moral there, ‘stick to the patch’

We bumped into Pete on the way out and he told us the Eider had relocated to the East Warwick and one of the Scaup was now on No.5. Apart from a Little Egret near the overflow channel to the South of the Lockwood that’s about your lot.

On this date: 06 02 10 Just 2 Snipe and a Green Sandpiper on the Waterworks N.R. No sign of the Scaup on Walthamstow, again. 5 Goldeneye and 2 Wigeon on the West Warwick.


Thursday, 3 February 2011

Site #2 Lea Bridge Rd Golf Centre

Does exactly what it says on the tin; primarily this is a Golf Course, well Pitch’n’Putt, but does have some wildlife merit so bear with me. It also has a cafe which does a quite decent breakfast.

Probably best viewed in the early morning, though during the week it can be relatively quiet too. The fairways and greens never hold anything hugely exciting though it is a very reliable site for Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, the former are often seen feeding and rarely even displaying on the fairways (it’s a bit like a Great Crested Grebe display without the water).

I have seen Woodcock and Ring Ouzel here but they certainly cannot be guaranteed. Ring-necked Parakeets have now arrived, probably using the Tree-lined River Lea as an expansion corridor. This is the aspect of the area that holds most potential, Nuthatch has been seen on the Hackney side of the River and Tawny Owl used to breed just South of here, again in the Trees by the River so keep your eyes and ears peeled for anything in transit along this sylvan strip.

The River Lea here marks the Southern boundary of the patch and can be good for Grey Wagtail and Kingfisher. A few Duck usually winter, especially Teal and Gadwall also Little Grebe and Cormorants are usually present.

The red bridge to the South-west (called the Friends Bridge, no doubt a reference to the camaraderie of the youth of E10 and E5) gives access to the largest conglomeration of Football pitches in Europe, maybe the universe and also the Middlesex Filter Beds, which is a nice little reserve but not on the patch. North of the bridge a pathway leads onto Walthamstow marsh, going under Lea Bridge Rd. Over the bridge and through the Middlesex Filter Beds N.R. you come to the Lea again and, where it crosses the Lea Bridge Rd, a Youngs pub; The Princess of Wales, that does nice chips.

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