Thursday, 22 December 2016

Winter Chats

There were two Stonechats enjoying the tastefully manicured area near the bomb crater pond today. This spot is generally pretty good for Stonechat. Hopefully they'll stick around over winter.

Stonechat (male)

Stonechat (female)
Stonechat Playground


Friday, 16 December 2016

High hopes for 2017

It was gloomy but amazingly mild and calm for mid-December which, with a nice array of birds again, made for a very pleasant visit. High Maynard held a pair of Goosander and 50-plus Teal while I broke my record haul of Green Sandpipers for the third time in a few weeks with five on the overflow channel. They were hidden by the overhanging vegetation and were only seen when flushed by a Thames Water truck actually driving - Hollywood movie style - up it. They were checking the concrete, I have since learnt.

The drake Scaup, after a brief foray onto High Maynard yesterday, was back on No 4 while the Black-necked Grebe, which has played an embarrassing game of hide-and-seek with me over its stay, was easy to see today near the hide on East Warwick. Neil B and I also had good views of a Stonechat on the opposite bank.

Given the number of engineers and builders on the reservoirs at the moment, it hardly seems possible that there is going to be more work in 2017. But the anglers are being warned that water levels in No 4 /5 are going to fall over the Christmas period in preparation for work in January which should see mud exposed. Even more exciting was Neil's information that Thames Water are planning to drain down Lockwood from March to carry out major repair work. If this really does coincide with Spring migration, the Avocet-shaped gap many of us have in our patch lists might finally be filled.

DB @porthkillier 

Friday, 9 December 2016

He's back

We have had a good run of Scaup at the reservoirs in recent years, which, I suspect, is now second only to Staines as the best site for the species in the London area. It's always hard to know for certain whether they include returning birds but No 4 has hosted a drake for the last two years which later moves onto other reservoirs in the complex. So when Mike M discovered a drake here on December 1 - two days later than last year and ten days earlier than in  2013 - it seems likely it may know the reservoirs well. It was still in its favourite NW corner today, spending most of its time as usual asleep.

Having also see Black-necked Grebe and Goosander on my last excellent - and camera-less - visit five days ago, it was inevitable that there would be fewer birds around today now I have bought a replacement for my broken compact. Lockwood only held three Goldeneye although the overflow channel had four Green Sandpipers together which is the most I have seen in a day. There was also a solitary Fieldfare by the side of High Maynard.

Stuart and I could not find the Black-necked Grebe on West or East Warwick where it had been yesterday. There has been a great deal of tidying up around the reservoirs in recent weeks which, unfortunately, has also included razing the bramble patch and brush at the south end of Lockwood. I know it will grow again but not in time for the Whitethroats when they return in the summer. It seems a shame.

DB @porthkillier