Monday, 27 April 2015

(Gonna Make it) A Day to Remember

The 3rd Annual Walthamstow Patch Watch has been and gone and so it behoves one of us to give an account. I guess that will be me then! (I’m sure others will add their take, and maybe pictures, on it later...) No time for flowery prose as we were all pretty exhausted after 12 hours on the patch so I’ll just stick to the facts.

Borne out of a day I spent on the patch in 2009 (14th May), which ended with me seeing 75 species on my own, and helping a Public Transport assisted/hampered team of London Birders gain their last 5 ticks of the day to win a bird race. I started to wonder what a group of us might achieve if we combined forces.

AWPW1 took place on 27th April 2013 and recorded 81 species, AWPW2 on 3rd May 2014, a day lacking in migrants, and finished on 75species. You need to give some notice and publicity to these things so can’t really wait for the weather to look right, and even if you did it’s no guarantee of anything, so a decision was made to move it back to the end of April. A pretty wise/lucky decision as it turned out. The weather was just right, nasty enough to drop things in and nice enough to be able to get out and find them.

I have tried orchestrating people and sites in the past, in an effort to get complete coverage, but this year decided to drop the strong arm tactics and let folk do their own thing, which they seemed to do. Though quite a few were settled in their mind where they were going,  there was a lot of last minute planning  with many others, especially when it seemed that overnight and early morning rain might do the business on the larger reservoirs.

I was going to start at the bottom and work my way through the Waterworks, Marsh and onto the reservoirs but the weather turned my mind. Stuart F was first with the news; 2 Ringed Plover on the Lockwood, plus 2 Dunlin, plus 2 Arctic Terns...having woken earlier than planned I quickly texted Jamie P and arranged to get up there asap, we scooted by and rendezvoused with Adam W in Coppermill Lane (quickly adding 2 Goldcrest by Waterside). From Coppermill Lane we could see Terns on No.4, they looked like Arctic’s, on arriving at the reservoirs we forsook the Lockwood and checked them out; they were Arctic’s, 12 of them. Now we were half way round the southern section we just carried on and bagged a few other scarcities, Greater Black-backed Gulls on No.5, Lesser Whitethroat on No.1, Swifts over East Warwick. 

The Waders on the Lockwood had apparently gone but we soldiered on up there anyway. There were more Arctic’s moving through, plenty of Common Sandpipers, possibly 20 across the complex, a 1st summer Yellow-legged Gull loafing on the bank, different to the bird from a couple of weeks back.

(Terrible record shot jp)

 A few Yellow Wagtails and Meadow Pipits flew North, some landing, there were a few Wheatears too, looking bright, maybe bright enough for the Greenlandic race. 

(photos jp)

The weather closed in again and suddenly a flock of 9 summer-plumaged Dunlin flew silently North, gone as quickly as they came.

News came through from Pete L, of an Oystercatcher on the Banbury that had flown North, darn! Though ‘they often come back’ I said. It did, but more of that later. Swifts, swallows and Sand Martins buzzed around or flew over but we couldn’t raise a single House Martin. More news came our way Terry R had found a male Whinchat on Wild Marsh East but try as we might it couldn’t be seen from the banks of the Lockwood, Pete hadn’t seen it earlier and Stuart tried and failed later but we decided a few sets of eyes might have better results but first it was time to hit the southern section again. As we left Lockwood 6 more Dunlin flew in.

(photo GH)

The second time around the southern section was very profitable, adding Reed Bunting on West Warwick, no sooner had we seen that than Graham H phoned with news of an Oystercatcher on the Lockwood but that had flown East. We Whether or not this was the same as the earlier bird we’ll never know but at that moment I picked it/another flying North onto the East Warwick looking like it would land on the island, you’ve not seen grown men run so fast through the tunnel from East to West. It did land but only for a few moments and went off East.

Our attention soon turned to party of 8 Yellow Wagtails on the deck.

 Interesting female type...
(photos jp)

Whilst drooling over them Lol B picked up two brown birds flying in, they landed on a bush by the railway; 'Pipits' he called, ‘Speez’ they called, 'Tree' I called. We found out later that Sue H had, unwittingly, seen and photographed (very well, see below) 2 Tree Pipits on the Waterworks NR just five minutes earlier and they had flown off (1 mile, 5 minutes, you do the maths). 

We carried on round to the track between No.1 & 2 where Jamie spotted a Falcon on a pylon, surely a Peregrine, which up till this time we were lacking for the day, it seemed suspiciously small though and sure enough turned out to be a Hobby (photo courtesy of Paul G, who happened along at the right time). Cetti’s Warbler gave itself up aurally and visually along the bank which is more than the Garden Warbler(s) seen earlier by Stuart and later by Pete did!

Our next move was liquid refreshment and strategizing in the Ferry Boat Inn, we added no extra species by sitting at the end of the garden but did earn the ire of the waitress who had to traipse up with our grub. (the service gets no better there)

Fed and watered it was now up to the Wild Marsh East where the Whinchat gave itself up to our (my) eyes quite readily. What a little beauty! Another Lesser Whitethroat proclaimed its presence and then another Raptor, with prey, flew round and landed, I must admit I mistakenly thought it was a Sparrowhawk but any confusion I had was soon dissipated when a large female appeared and took the prey, maybe they are breeding in the vicinity after all?

It was now time to hit the south for the few species that we were still missing (news from the Waterworks, Pitch’n’Putt and Paddocks was mostly negative but helpful nonetheless for refining our plans) We hit the dump off Orient Way for Gulls, Common Gull in particular and Jackdaw, both had been seen earlier but we drew a blank, however we did score a super bright Willow Warbler which jumped up in front of me and then started to sing.

A blast around the Marsh for another Garden Warbler drew a blank but we did get Green Woodpecker a couple of Cetti’s and 6/7 Wheatear on the back paddocks. Finally the Waterworks gave up our last tick of the day a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Twelve hours in the field and the cumulative patch day list had been broken 82 species. 30 minutes later and i'm at home and Alastair D goes and finds a male Whinchat in the bomb crater field and 5 Red-crested Pochard on the Lea by Walthamstow Marsh and tops the record up to 83.

Seven species were added to the patch yearlist during the day, (finally allowing us to overtake our mortal enemies over in the Doggy Caliphate, who we seem to have been trailing by two species for months). Many participants added patch ticks (if that is their thing) and all of us came away with a few or more patch year ticks, and at least three of us got the new personal best of 78 species in a day on the patch. Overall it was just a thoroughly enjoyable day, though I will be quite happy to have a year’s rest before AWPW4.

Thanks to all Walthamstow Birders and visitors for their finding and sharing.

PW @birdingprof 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Mega Godwit (no, not that one) Gives Joy

A Harshad number, in a given number base, is an integer that is divisible by the sum of its digits when written in that base. (bear with it, i'm goiing somewhere)

To take a random example, 200 would be divisible by the sum of its digits (2+0+0=2). It has a mathematical symmetry that is pleasing to the (OCD) mind.
Harshad comes from the Sanskrit hara (joy) + da (give), meaning joy-giver.

It could be said, therefore that 200 is a number that gives joy to the recreational mathematician.

Birding is a not the be all and end all for me (no really), I have many other far more important things to do in life, nonetheless it is a source of great joy and part of that joy is in the numbers. I like a list....or two....or more.

I have seen Bar-tailed Godwit on my World List, Western Palearctic List, British List, English List, East Anglian & South-Eastern Lists and London List but, up until today, not on my Patch List, there was an OCD brain-itching gap against that particular delicacy, all the more so in that a number of local patchers have previously connected with BTG, some multiple times.

All that was to end however this morning when Adam ‘harshad’ W braved the elements and found one on the Lockwood (story below) and to his credit got the news out. His initial views, in very poor conditions led him to the, not unreasonable, conclusion that it was Black-tailed, a bird that I have seen on the patch, (20th July 1998, 9 summer-plumaged birds off the reservoirs and South over my house). Although I didn’t need it and only having a 40 minute window available this morning I thought it too good a patch year tick to miss and so shot up there. Imagine my confusion and delight that when clapping eyes on it, albeit distantly, with only bins and in the murk, it looked a bit Bar-taily. Adam W and Steve H had also got onto it again but were not getting fabulous views either, however a fisherman flushed it, and its true identity was revealed.

After a near thing with Hoopoe last week (we don’t talk about it) I finally got to ink in my 200th patch bird; Bar-tailed Godwit, a giver of joy indeed. Not that it has been a quick thing mind you; I first visited the patch, for the purposes of birding, in 1967, so 48 years, though with many and long hiatus (not hiatai apparently) in between. I have to agree with that other great local patcher, Fat Boy Slim (no relation) when he waxed lyrical about the patch:

We've come a long long way together,

Through the hard times and the good,

I have to celebrate you baby,

I have to praise you like I shouldddddd
PW @birdingprof

An Idiot's Guide to Finding Inland Waders

Whilst dipping the Short Eared Owl on Tottenham West Marsh on Thursday night, I managed to pick Prof's brains about the perfect conditions for finding migrant waders on the reservoirs. Obviously any of the edges can turn up waders if the water levels are low but historically the Lockwood is particular good due to its raised profile and the fact it is relatively undisturbed. The island (with its heavily obscured small pool) on the East Warwick also regularly draws them in, although you need patience and a bit luck to actually see them in this small gap.

Basically, what I've managed to gleam from Prof (and DB) is that three main conditions ideally need to occur for migrant waders to appear:

1) Wind Direction 
Southerlies in the spring and Northerlies in the autumn to drive birds inland from the coast. This is fairly self explanatory...

2) Rain Showers
Even if the wind is blowing in the right direction, if it's sunny or overcast waders will mostly pass high overhead or land on the larger Chingford Reservoirs if they need to feed. As such, you have to be prepared to get wet. Very wet. In fact, the wetter the better... 

3) Poor Visibility
This might seem self-apparent, as mist and fog disorientates migrating birds all over the world. What is less obvious, however, is where you need to be checking... Essentially, poor visibility in Walthamstow could help but you really want to look for is poor visibility at the coast overnight to force migrating birds inland. In spring, for instance, it's important to check for mist and fog on the Sussex/Kent coast (Brighton) overnight and in the early morning.

So, on Saturday morning the stars aligned and conditions seemed like they would be ideal: a light south westerly of about 10mph; showers between 7-9am; and mist in Brighton until about 6am. 

Despite getting well oiled the night before, I somehow managed to get onto the Reservoirs at 6.45am and headed straight for the Lockwood.... 4 Common Terns on No. 4 were new for the year, but there was very little to see on either of the Maynards. Knowing that I was the first person to get onto the Lockwood this morning, I climbed the bank in eager anticipation and walked to the Northern end, but aside from 2 Common Sandpiper and a female Wheatear there wasn't much about.

I headed back along the Eastern side and decided to wait on the ramp for an hour or so. Pretty soon, it started to drizzle, before getting heavier. At 8am, I noticed two large waders flying high from the Banbury with long, pretty straight bills. A few thoughts flashed through my mind (Whimbrels? Godwits?) but they were so high that I struggled to ID them and soon lost them to view over the High Maynard. I spent the next ten minutes kicking myself, while getting soaked to the bone. 

Then, all of a sudden, one of the birds flew back from High Maynard calling and dropping fast. As it headed towards the rafts I could see that it was a Godwit! And what's more... it was actually going to land! It flew into the Southern Eastern corner but due to the curve of the reservoir, it had landed out of view. Without really thinking, I put out the news on twitter as a Black-tailed Godwit and started to walk towards the Southern end. On the way, I met Steven H and we both realised that we were probably going to flush the bird, so we waited until some other patch listers arrived before going any further. It briefly came into view in heavy rain, but we still hadn't managed to see it very well.

Pretty soon, Prof arrived on the South Western side. My phone started ringing as a fisherman climbed the bank and flushed the bird. Prof had managed to see the bird much more clearly and realised that it was a Bar-Tailed Godwit! More importantly, it was his 200th bird for the Patch! As it flew to the 
Southern end we could see that he was right, as it didn't have any visible wing-bars. 

Prof soon dashed off to work, but we walked to the Southern end and managed to find a Little Ringed Plover that had also been grounded by the shower. My second patch lifer in the space of an hour! As I hadn't seen an LRP for a long time, Stephen kindly talked me through some of the flight ID features as a few Sand Martins flew overhead. 

At the Northern end, we managed to relocate the Godwit distantly on the North West bank for around 10 minutes, while Lol B confirmed that it was a female from the comfort of his house. After a while, it flew back towards the Southern end, where Graham H watched it feed and even managed to get a few record shots....

We walked back up the Western bank, but as the weather was clearing up the Little Ringed Plover had already moved on. Within a few minutes, Graham watched the Godwit head back towards the Northern end of the Lockwood climbing steadily until it was little more than a speck in the sky. 

The weather had grounded the Godwit and the LRP for about 90 minutes but as soon as the sun started to appear, they were back on their way...  AW

Bar-tailed Godwit - GH

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


20/4/15   JP suggested a lunchtime rendezvous on the Lockwood on this sunny but breezy April day,
and I was happy to oblige. It's also easier to get onto the res at the moment from my place on the Billet Road, whilst work's being done to create a new concrete cycle path through what will become 'Walthamstow Wetlands' in a couple of years time.
Practically the first thing I came across was a lovely Little Ringed Plover (my first of the year), which later became a pair (see Jamie's pics below).  The news was twitterfied (a form of communication I've resisted until now...probably not for much longer, as it is useful in the context of birding at least), and we were soon joined by PW and JN, who'd spent the morning seeking out some dubious semi-wild pheasant sp. in the home counties somewhere...
Apart from a lone female Wheatear, 2 Common Sandpipers on the island on High Maynard, and a trickle of hirundines, there wasn't much about - disappointingly, a lack of large raptors in seemingly ideal conditions - that is, until a Rook sailed overhead - my second in a week, the patch 4th in a week and only my second ever! A surprisingly rare species on the patch considering they're commonly found in the more countrified areas a few miles further up the Lea valley.

So the 4 of us moved on to the South side starting with a circuit of the East Warwick where again there wasn't much of note except a lone Lapwing and a couple of Great Black-backs milling about.
As we made our way across to the no 5 res (and I dumbly misidentified a Sparrowhawk as Peregrine..doh!), Paul suddenly called out Red-legged Partridge! and sure enough, a bit further up the road adjacent to the East Warwick, was said RLP strolling nonchalantly along without a care in the world! Another widespread farmland bird which is very rare in urban areas, and a patch first for everyone except PW...
So another enjoyable, and very worthwhile few hours on the patch...roll on Sunday!  
Lol Bodini

21/4/15  Another beautiful spring day in London town - with not a cloud in the sky this time, though still a fair Easterly breeze - and I had arranged to meet up with Rachael Smith, the newly appointed 'Community Liaison' person (apologies if I've got the title wrong) for the London Wildlife Trust. Rachael will be responsible for publicising the new Walthamstow Wetlands Centre as well as taking groups on regular walks around the reservoirs (concentrating on the South side).
She and her boss David Mooney have asked local birders to assist with these walks where possible during the two years leading up to the grand opening of the Wetlands Centre in 2017, and I have offered my assistance at least once a month. If anyone else reading this feels the urge to do the same, just let me know and I can pass on the relevant details.
We walked through the path between reses 1,2 & 3 and almost immediately I spotted 2 duck take off with pale blue forewings. They landed by the island on no.2 res and sure enough were a splendid pair of Garganey! Not very good at remembering dates of stuff I've seen, but suffice to say that it's been at least 3 years since I saw one of these on the patch (and possibly longer). I told Rachael how lucky she was to see such a scarce species and she was suitably impressed. Unfortunately, whilst chatting away I lost site of the pair and couldn't relocate them (luckily Jamie P relocated them a few hours later skulking under a log on same island - hopefully pics to follow!).
The only other birds of note were 1 Common Sandpiper on East Warwick, a single (adult) Common Gull on Low Maynard and Yellow Wagtail heard passing over Lockwood, where I also later had magnificent views of a Peregrine sailing past the house, it's black mask and yellow legs clearly visible in superb light against the cloudless blue sky.
I should finish by saying that from my earlier conversations with Rachael, I've ascertained that the habitat improvement plans are going to be concentrated around reservoirs 1, 2 & 3, at least in the initial stages (there may be other works done later in other areas when more money becomes available). It's a bit vague at the moment except that they plan on creating more reedbeds, improving the existing hides (and possibly erecting new ones), and creating the new Visitors Centre of course, which will also have a cafe and education centre.  She assured me that there will definitely NOT be dog walkers allowed in and NO playground for kids, so that's good news! I stressed birders' wish for some kind of 'scrape' to attract waders e.g. breeding LRPs, and she took that on board and promised to relay that message to the 'powers that be'.  Onwards and upwards...
Lol Bodini

Garganey - GH
Garganey pair - GH
Island on No.1 Reservoir - GH

Saturday, 18 April 2015


Gulls are hard. I hate Gulls.

A History

In the beginning there was just one species of Gull, known and beloved by birder and public alike it was called ‘The Sea-Gull’. They lived by the Sea and their call sounded like ‘Koow’ or ‘Gull’, if you will, everything was simple.

By the time of the industrial revolution mankind had become quite materialistic, this led to a consumer society and the throw away mentality we have today, this in turn led to developing sites where we could throw away the stuff we had bought some while ago in order to hoard new stuff. Thus the landfill was born and the Sea-Gull moved inland in order to exploit this new resource.

People that had not travelled to the seaside called these birds that they were seeing for the first time ‘The Land-Gull’. They lived by the Landfill and their call sounded like ‘Koow’ or ‘Gull’, if you will, everything was fairly simple.

Science and Discovery

Around this time, and due to the Catholic church banning the use of telescopes for investigating the universe, canny telescope salesmen turned their attention to a new branch of science that was growing in popularity; Ornithology. Recognizing that all these new Ornithologists were keen to make names for themselves these salesmen suggested looking at birds with said scopes.

Though early scopes left much to be desired in optical reach and clarity, nonetheless new discoveries were soon being made. There were Large Gulls and  Little Gulls, ones with Black backs and ones with Grey backs, some had dark heads and some didn’t and some had them in the summer and not in the winter; these were heady times for the new generation of Ornithologists. Things were not so simple after all.

Confusing Times

Whilst optical technology was in its infancy, communication technology had not even been born and this often led to scientists working in isolation, unaware of developments with colleagues working elsewhere. Black-headed Gull for instance was discovered in Britain but the name Larus melanochephalus (literally Gull with the head of black) had already been given to a similar species in the Mediterranean, so it was awarded the scientific name Larus ridibundus (literally laughing Gull),  this led to problems with the Americans who already had one of those and now had to make up another scientific name for their bird, they called it Larus atricilla (literally Gull with a black tail), this meant the Japanese had to come up with a different name for their Black-tailed Gull so they called it Larus Crassirostris (literally Gull with the thick bill). Further progress in telescopes later led British scientists to realise that Black-head Gulls actually had brown heads but sadly the Chinese had already called one of their birds Larus brunnicephalus (literally Gull with the head of brown) so the whole sorry affair was buried. Things were getting more complicated.

A Period of Instability/Stability

By the end of the 19th Century upwards of twenty-five species of Gull had been described. At this time humanity was plunged into an orgy of war and the scientific world turned its attention away from bird discovery and to the development of weapons of mass destruction, historians have postulated that the diplomatic difficulties arising from the previous century of Gull discovery played a contributory part in the turmoil that followed during the 20th Century, and who am I to argue. Things were definitely more complicated.

A Period of Stability/Instability

By the mid 20th Century the world was returning to an uneasy stability but the world of Gulls was becoming decidedly unstable. Soldiers returning from the battlefield with looted superior German optics went on to discover further species of Gull but the increase was incrementally slow. It was science that once again sped up the process. Nuclear weapons had been invented and scientists were now at a loose end, so they discovered DNA. Ornithologists soon realised that inside every Gull was some of this DNA and some Gulls had different coloured DNA (such is my understanding) to other Gulls, they started naming them as new species. Birders, as the returning soldiers with the looted optics were now calling themselves, were at first reluctant to embrace this new concept but it was sold to them as a listing opportunity and gradually the idea became acceptable.

At first each Gull had to be dissected to determine what colour its DNA was and hence what species it was, but later this practice went the same way as egg collecting as the nation became more conservation conscious. Fortunately optical developments were coming along apace and before long birders were convincing themselves that they could actually see the DNA difference without resorting to dismemberment. Things were extremely complex.

End Game

Now in the 21st Century we have entered a period of scientific and Ornithological free fall. There are so many Gull species that there are not enough descriptive names (Black, Brown, Grey-headed etc.) to go round, we have virtually run out of geographical (Caspian, Mediterranean, Iceland etc.) names, now almost every birder has a Gull (Ross, Franklin, Bonaparte etc.) named after himself, Gulls are even being named after comedians ((Richard) Herring, (Syd) Little, (Phil) Silver, Sooty etc.).

Self-proclaimed identification gurus are proliferating, every birder and his dog are Gull experts, people are discussing Gulls, watching Gulls, photographing Gulls, even blogging about Gulls. But the end is nigh! Recycling is in, consumerism is out, landfills are being closed. Soon the Gulls will be returning to whence they came.

At the end there will be just one species of Gull, known and beloved by birder and public alike it will be called ‘The Sea-Gull’. They will live by the Sea and their call will sound like ‘Koow’ or ‘Gull’, if you will, everything will be simple.

Which brings me to yesterday. I spotted an interesting Gull at the bottom end of the West Warwick, I went to investigate, I set up my scope, it flew off, another Gull took its place, it looked interesting, I photographed it, I thought it looked like a 1st summer Yellow-legged Gull, I asked my mate who is a Gull expert, he said it was, I wished I had just trusted my own ability and put the news out straight away, I hate Gulls.

It’s #101 for the patch this year. I still hate Gulls.

PW @birdingprof

Friday, 17 April 2015


the re edit....

(I've just returned home from a hungover day at work and re read the blog post for this and shouldnt never write after that many drinks again. It was the scrawlings of a mad man... apologies, i suppose i was celebrating!)

I was on the patch at 6.10am , It was slightly foggy but clearing quick. I was hoping for ring ousel really, but flushed a stunning Hoopoe from the first sand bunker on the pitch and putt. It flew high and between the large poplars, and i managed these record shots. I then lost it and re found it again in the same spot.

I was shaking, but put out the news and a few lucky people came and got a glimpse after i'd left.

A day to remember and im thouroughly pleased with myslef.

JP - @jarpartridge

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Thats the way the Rookie crumbles...

Having been booked into work for the next month or so, My only time for birding is between the hours of 6-8am. So i intend to hit the patch each morning and find excellent birds.

This morning i climbed the fence at the waterworks having checked for ring ouzel on the pitch and putt, surprisingly the parakeets are still roosting here with up to c150 birds present this morning.

There were about five male common white throats present, three willow warblers and many more blackcaps including three females. There seem to be 2 maybe 3 cettis still. One was quite showy and appeared to be carrying nesting material along the hedgerow just before the hides.  A high flying, suspicious looking corvid caught my eye and turned out to be a Rook, and was followed by another, calling and headed SE,  new one for the patch year list 2015. 

A single reed warber was singing like mad in the reedbed with the chanel. I also had a common lizard under a corrugated iron sheet a few days ago, FYI

JP - @jarpartridge

Monday, 13 April 2015

Ring Ouzel

I found this little poem about the Ring Ouzel penned by a blogging poet called 'thecheeswolf' and it is rather delightful.  Follow the link for some of his other works.

Ring Ouzel

 A lunar crescent, skyward horned.
A tail which traces scree and ling.

A plaintive tone, a mournful tune.

A solitary black and bib.

Alone in rocks above the scars,

Where streams from bogs first scratch their beds

With steady tick like lowland merle,

A lost and wayward song of moors.

The moon is pitched in afterglow

And scattered with the trace of stars.

The melancholy call of space

A flick of night pitched wing and gone.

And left as one with what was once,

The sadness of a memory’s song.

There are cons to early starts on the patch, but today was very much about the prose.  A male Ring Ouzel found feeding on the grassy path adjacent to the river on the old Pitch and Putt at the Waterworks was a real treat.  Maybe the same bird seen yesterday, it fed purposefully on the damp surface, unearthing morsels while being harrassed by obstinate Blackbirds, it's bold white gorget piercing through the dingy morning light.

Today there was a real fall of these montane thrushes in the south, so it was nice to share on the feast of Ouzels that were passing through, some localities seeing numbers upward of 40 individuals.  I observed it for around ten minutes before it flew into trees at the eastern end before being lost to view.  Attempts to relocate it with @jarpartridge, JW Davies, and Jan were in vain but hopefully it will stick around before journeying north.

Nearby, a Kingfisher could be heard calling, 15 Teal and three Gadwall were observed on the channel, and a minimum of five singing Willow Warbler were recorded.  Three Sedge Warbler on the northside of Walthamstow Marshes were doing a bit of this 'zrüzrü-trett zrüzrüzrü-trett zrüzrüzrü psit trutrutru-pürrrrrrrrrrurrrrrr vi-vi-vi lülülü zetre zetre...', a decent but brief look at a vocally explosive Cetti's Warbler in thickets next to the boardwalk, and a Common Whitethroat scratched away opposite the paddocks.  Five Sand Martin flew up river.

JN - @randombirder


Yes it's the 3rd Annual Walthamstow Patch Watch

This year it will be on Sunday 26th April. Last year we went off a week later and were hampered by a lack of migrants, so we are moving it back to April and see what happens.

The attached list has all the species we recorded during AWPW1 & AWPW2. I reckon the species on the left are pretty much a given as long as you cover a reasonable section of the lower (Marsh) and upper (Reservoirs) parts of the patch. The Green highlighted species ought to be seen if you are fairly diligent; by the time you get to the Amber highlighted species you will have to make a bit more effort and the Red highlighted species will need a degree of luck on the day. Of course there may well be all sorts of additional species on the day -that's the fun!

If you are not doing so already, follow some/all of us on Twitter for live breaking news on the day, share your sightings either on Twitter or post them to the London Wiki site. Get the news out quickly if at all possible so that we can chase any special birds.

Finally if you are unable to join in on the day we would appreciate any scouting you may be able to do on the previous day or two.

See you there.

Walthamstow Birders

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Trickling through..

            It's certainly more a trickle than a flood but the summer migrants are slowly arriving at the reservoirs. Two House Martins fed with 30-plus Sand Martins over West Warwick yesterday while Pete L had singing Willow Warbler between No 2 and No 3 today as well as the first Common Tern through high north over Lockwood. Even better was his Reed Warbler singing on the east side of No 2 this afternoon which appears to be one of the first in London. There was plenty of excitement further south on the patch with Ring Ousel. My sole contribution - before I defected to Rainham - was a Redshank on East Warwick which at least stayed around for others to add to their year list. The Common Sandpiper which GH had yesterday - along with a Wheatear - was also seen today by Pete.
DB @porthkillier

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Friday 9/04/15,

Blackcap at the waterworks,

Male Reed bunting on the paddocks

Sand martin between the Warricks

There were up to 5 female wheatears on the Lockwood, No sign of the pair of scaup though.

Common sands on the lockwood

There were two green sands on the usual ramp north of the lockwood

Single Mipit also lockwood, despite 2 blokes strimming and mowing the grass.

Lovely lovely Graellsii Lesser black-back

Common Buzzard over the west Warrick

JP  @jarpartridge