Friday, 8 April 2011


Today was really a game of two halves.

An early morning start was rewarded with 3 Lapwings actually on the deck on Walthamstow marsh (in the Richard’s Pipit field if you are interested, i.e. the field in which I intend to find a Richard’s Pipit one day) sadly they didn’t stay long as the joggers approached. Somehow I have managed to miss Lapwing on the patch thus far this year and really thought that was it until the Autumn/Winter.

The plan was that Lol was supposed to meet me on the marsh at 08:00 and then we would do the Lockwood for all the big flyover stuff later, but I received a text explaining that 3 of the 4 Glow Worms that power his car had died, or something like that, and so he would do Tottenham marsh instead.

I soon received another text; Whitethroat on TM! The stakes were raised. I wandered further across the marsh until I came across a singing Sedge Warbler, this one was a real poser unlike last week’s skulker. Then suddenly a pallid Warbler zipped across the path and disappeared into the undergrowth, I thought I was on for an early Reed Warbler but the white outer tail feathers put paid to that possibility, it turned out even better as I stalked it and found my earliest ever Lesser Whitethroat.

Minutes later, over by the railway line, a showy Whitethroat sang away. There were plenty of Chiffchaffs and oodles of Blackcaps on the marsh too. Later by the Riding Stables a male Yellow Wagtail flew over and a Little Owl bathed in the Sun.

I did see Lol up on the Lockwood later but to say that our expectations were dashed would be an understatement. I had lined up Jono L at Wanstead to tip us off on any approaching Black Storks and Raptors, especially White-tailed Eagles. The wind was a very light North-westerly so anything heading our way would surely pass Wanstead first. After an hour of texts relating to the colours of various approaching balloons I decided to check the skies by laying on the blockhouse with my eyes closed, it didn’t make much difference.

Conditions really were too good for observing anything soaring over. We did get a few single Yellow Wagtails and a couple of Meadow Pipits but that was it. I said that it might get better as things cooled down later, but we both had things to do so sidled off.

As we departed Lol picked up a Swallow, a Peregrine put in an appearance, 4 Green Sandpipers were in the overflow channel and then a Pheasant appeared but it was not enough to detain us. About the time I left the reservoirs Mark P had a Marsh Harrier flyover Stoke Newington, by back calculating it’s route, it would have come directly over our heads if we had stayed put for another twenty minutes! D’oh!

I bumped into George as I left and he told me that Pete and he had had Red Kite and Common Tern on Wednesday, there was also a Little Ringed Plover on the Lockwood on Thursday.

Further grippage came when Lol informed me that someone had seen Barn Owl on Tottenham marsh a few times late last year, surely visible from the patch! And then, more up to date, Jamie P told of a Grasshopper Warbler seen and heard on Hackney marsh this morning, maybe audible from the patch, but certainly seen heading our way, and a probable Reed Warbler on the Waterworks N.R.

All in all a good day with 4 patch year ticks this morning and another this afternoon, but can’t help thinking we should have got something from our skywatch!

On this date: 08 04 95 A few Willow Warblers singing on Walthamstow Marsh also a Sedge Warbler.


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